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Rovers, Friedel rally to remain in FA Cup; O'Brien remains injured.

Sanneh courtship with West Brom is over after exchange of barbs.

Rovers, Friedel see Worthington Cup reign end with 3-1 loss to Manchester United.

McBride's two goal lead Everton's 2-1 comeback win over Sunderland.

Sanneh nixes move to West Brom; Friedel posts easy shutout.

McBride starts Everton career in style, but Keller, Spurs are triumphant 4-3.

Friedel, Rovers romp in FA Cup; Keller is routed.

Kirovski's second goal is a mere memory after Birmingham City is shut out twice.

Friedel's shutout helps Blackburn Rovers end futility against Man. U. 1-0.

Kirovski gets start and scores to lead Birmingham City past Fulham 1-0.

Hahnemann keeps shutout streak alive for Reading which draw 0-0 with league-leading Portsmouth.

Marcus Hahnemann: Clean sheets and growing whiskers.

Americans Abroad

McBride continues to spark Everton rise to top of Premier League table.

Brian McBride
Brian McBride, a loan from the Columbus Crew, is paying off for Everton.

By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
and Gary Davidson (in Washington, D.C.)
SoccerTimes

(Sunday, February 2, 2003) -- With American striker Brian McBride playing a key role, Everton is red hot and climbing the table in England's Premier League

Though McBride did not score a goal, he made a significant contribution, and was named "Man of the Match" in one of the Toffees' two victories the past week.

For the first time in his brief career with Everton, McBride did not figure directly in a goal, but David Unsworth and Tomasz Radzinski found net in the second half for a 2-0 triumph over the visiting, struggling Leeds United yesterday before 40,153 at Goodison Park

McBride, who was replaced after 73 minutes, did create the first good chance of the match, taking a feed from Dave Unsworth, pulling the ball back to clear a defender, and then finding Steve Watson in front of the net. Watson skied the easy setup over the crossbar. Later, Leeds keeper Gary Kelly stopped McBride from inside the six-yard box before McBride set up Watson again for a failed, but spectacular bicycle kick shot.

On Tuesday, McBride assisted two Watson tallies in a six-minute span in the first half in a 2-1 road win over Bolton Wanderers who did not score until the closing moments. Several newspapers cited McBride as "Man of the Match."

After Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen turned away his header off a cross from Alessandro Pistone, McBride, on loan until April from Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew, set up Watson's spectacular goal. In the 33rd minute, Watson controlled a perfect flick from McBride and sent an overhead kick just beyond Jaaskelainen to make it 1-0.

Six minutes later, Jaaskelainen could not control a hard shot by McBride and Watson was quick to easily poke in the rebound for a 2-0 advantage.

Despite McBride scoring 10 minutes into his debut, Everton lost 4-3 to Tottenham Hotspur. Since then, the Toffees have rolled off three straight victories to raise their record to 13-7-6 for 45 points, good enough for a fourth-place tie with Chelsea (12-5-9), 11 points behind league-leading Arsenal (17-4-5), but trailing second-place Manchester United (15-5-5) by only five.

United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel represented himself well, but could not prevent Blackburn Rovers from dropping a pair of matches, including a 3-0 drubbing at Aston Villa today.

Villa went ahead two minutes in when Dion Dublin rose high above defender Martin Taylor to rocket a header past Friedel off a well-placed cross.

Then, Friedel twice turned back seemingly sure goals. Olof Mellberg floated a free kick into the box where he found an unmarked Ronny Johnsen eight yards out, but Friedel parried his right-footed volley away. Soon after, he denied Stefan Moore's drive.

In the 40th minute, however, Dublin was sent in alone and he beat Friedel from 12 yards with a left-footed effort into the corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.

In the second half, Friedel kept Rovers' bleak chances alive when he first stopped Thomas Hitzlsperger's curling 25-yard shot, then denied Johnsen's rebound attempt. Friedel could not get to Gareth Barry first-touch shot from 10 yards, coming off a cross from Ulises de la Cruz, to make it 3-0 in the 81st minute.

On Wednesday, Friedel was sharp in the early going, but Blackburn squandered a 1-0 lead to struggling West Ham United which won 2-1 with a pair of tallies after intermission.

Friedel denyied Les Ferdinand's 14-yard header seven minutes before making a fine flailing save to push away Michael Carrick's diving header, and denying a rebound try by Paolo di Canio.

Dwight Yorke gave Rovers a 1-0 lead after 38 minutes, but di Canio evened matters 20 minutes later with a penalty kick. West Ham's winner came in the 89th minute off a sensational move by substitute Jermain Defoe who collected a diagonal ball, cut inside from the left and smashed a blistering shot past Friedel at the near post.

Blackburn is 12th among 20 teams at 8-8-10 for 34 points, while West Ham (4-14-8) is tied for 18th, its 20 points one above cellar-dwelling Sunderland.

It was also a disappointing week for U.S. keeper Kasey Keller and Tottenham Hotspur. Yesterday, Keller was sharp, especially when denying Jesper Gronkjaer's hard shot off a rebound, but he could not stop Gianfranco Zola's perfect, curling free kick in the 40th minute in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

On Wednesday, Keller was just as good, but Spurs could not generate any attack for 36,084 home fans at White Hart Lane allowing Newcastle United to prevail 1-0 on Jermaine Jenas' tally in the 90th minute.

With time winding down, Keller made a spectacular save on Craig Bellamy, who had worked himself free for his blast, but the rebound fell to an unmarked Jermaine Jenas who easily scored into an open net.

Keller stopped several other shots, including a fierce low drive from Alan Shearer and an ensuing rebound attempt.

Spurs (11-9-6, 39) are in a three-way tie for seventh place with Southampton (10-7-9) and Charlton United (11-9-6).

U.S. striker Jovan Kirovski entered in the 74th minute of Birmingham City's 4-2 loss to Bolton. He managed one hard shot, but otherwise was not much of a factor.


In England's First Division, U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis scored once and twice nearly missed in helping Preston North End to a 3-0 triumph yesterday over visiting Gillingham, a side that was undefeated in its last nine league and Cup outings.

In the 29th minute, Brian O'Neil found Lewis alone at the far post and the American slammed the ball home for a 1-0 advantage.

Lewis was solid all afternoon on the left side and, after North End had increased its margin to 3-0, Lewis twice triggered dangerous shots that were handled by keeper Jason Brown.

Reading, with American Marcus Hahnemann in goal, split a pair of games.

After losing 3-1 Wednesday to Leicesster City -- Hahnemann was responsible for conceding the first goal when he mishandled a Alan Rogers cross and an unmarked Paul Dickov produced a neat overhead kick to put his side ahead 1-0 -- Reading bounced back with a fine 5-2 win over Burnley yesterday.


In France, U.S. defender David Regis continues to play well in a starting role for Troyes which dropped a heartbreaker 1-0 to Le Havre on a questioned penalty kick in the 85th minute.
In the German Bundesliga, Energie Cottbus made it two wins by defeating VfL Bochum 2-1. U.S. defender Gregg Berhalter, playing the middle, marshaled what has suddenly become a stiff defense and made several good defensive stops on his own.

Likewise, U.S. right defender Steve Cherundolo excelled for Hannover 96 which defeated TSV 1860 Munich 1-0, led by its well-organized and solid back line.

Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent and can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com.Gary Davidson is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent and can be e-mailed at editor@soccertimes.com.

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