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Casey scores twice in Karlsruhe loss, then debuts in style for U.S.

Meeting between trio of U.S. field players produces drab 0-0 draw between Man. City, Fulham.

Mathis assists goal, but Hannover squanders two leads in 2-2 draw with Schalke.

Friedel is sharp in Rovers' 2-0 win over Aston Villa; Howard sits for Man. U.

Reyna, Manchester City romp over defenseless Manchester United 4-1.

Mathis, Cherundolo can't change Hannover fortunes under new coach.

After scoring thrilling tying goal, Lewis could be finished for North End season by hernia surgery.

Howard is beaten in last minute, Manchester United falls from Champions League.

Cherundolo, Mathis will get new coach at Hannover 96.

Manchester United, Howard prevail over Fulham, McBride in FA Cup.

Q&A: Mathis is enjoying Germany, looking to World Cup.

Casey scores twice as Karlsruhe ties Bielefeld 2-2.

McBride, Bocanegra lead Fulham past West Ham in FA Cup.

Sanneh expected to miss rest of German season; Mathis scores again.

Friedel scores tying goal for Blackburn, but is soon beaten by Charlton winner.

Mathis has goal, assist for Hannover in 2-2 draw with Leverkusen.

O'Brien appearance for U.S. in doubt because of hamstring injury.

Howard leads Man. U. past Reyna, Man. City 4-2 in FA Cup.

Hannover, with Mathis, Cherundolo, falls to Bayern Munich; Casey, Berhalter score in victories.

Americans Abroad

Howard's days as Manchester United starter might be over.

By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)

(Monday, April 5, 2004) -- A huge question mark exists when and if United States goalkeeper Tim Howard will be back in net for Manchester United after his replacement, Northern Ireland international Roy Carroll was brilliant in United's 1-0 triumph over English Premier League-leading Arsenal Saturday in the FA Cup semifinals.

Manchester coach Alex Ferguson put Howard on the bench the last three matches, saying the young American was mentally worn out and needed a rest after giving up a bad rebound goal which eliminated United from the European Champions League Round of 16 March 9, then being beaten four times in a 4-1 loss at Manchester City five days later,

The 1-1 draw at home with Porto of Portugal and a 3-2 aggregate loss in the Champions League was most painful for the Man. U. management and faithful because it was played on a bigger stage and cost the club millions of dollars of revenue should it have advanced.

Benching Howard, 25, was widely viewed as an attempt to pressure him into playing better. However, Carroll, who Ferguson called his "lucky charm," has made the most of the opportunity, playing exceptionally in all three matches. This culminated Saturday when he made five saves, four in the first half, to lead United to past Arsenal, which has set a record by going undefeated (22-0-8) through the first 30 matches of the Premier League season.

Eliminated from the Champions League and EPL contention, winning the FA Cup final over the First Division's Millwall would give United a major honor in an otherwise disappointing campaign.

With his "three-match experiment" now over, Ferguson must decide who he will start over the Bank Holiday weekend with a visit to Birmingham City Saturday and a home game with Leicester City April 16. The popular thinking is Carroll will keep the job, but the Irishman is not sure.

In 24 Premier League and FA Cup appearances for United over three seasons, Carroll, 26, is yet to be on the losing side. "I am the man in possession just now, but I know it could all change next weekend," Carroll told Soccernet. "I have never doubted I am good enough to be first choice here, but I do accept the move from the Second Division to the biggest club in the world is a big one and I have had to bide my time. When I first came, Fabien Barthez was here and doing really well. Then Tim signed in the summer and he was equally good. Now the gaffer (coach) has given me my chance and hopefully I have impressed enough to keep my place on Saturday."

The last time Tottenham Hotspur beat Chelsea on the road at White Hart Lane was in 1987. Saturday, despite a strong effort in net by U.S. keeper Kasey Keller, Chelsea extended this 17-year unbeaten run over Spurs and closed to within four points on Premiership leader Arsenal with a 1-0 victory.

Keller came up big several times on the afternoon, especially in the 57th minute when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink ran through two Spurs defenders before feeding Fred Lampard whose close-in blast was saved by the American. But in the 38th minute, Keller could do little when Lampard fed Damien Duff on the left flank and his low cross was comfortably put away by Hasselbaink from point-blank range.

U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna played a solid 73 minutes and Sylvain Distin scored in the 82nd minute to earn relegation-threatened Manchester City an important point in a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.

Reyna worked hard in the midfield, before tiring and giving way to Trevor Sinclair. City (7-13-11, 32 points) is four points and three positions above the relegation zone.

U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra had one of his best matches since arriving at Fulham in a 0-0 draw with Birmingham City. Bocanegra made several good stops, including on Mikael Forssell's angled shot which had goalkeeper Maik Taylor beaten.

Taylor had a brilliant match for City. U.S. striker Brian McBride came on for Martin Djetou in the 66th minute, but could do little to spark the Fulham attack.

When Liverpool and its star forward Michael Owen are on their game, they are as good as anyone in the Premiership as U.S. keeper Brad Friedel and Blackburn Rovers learned Sunday. Owen shredded them for a pair of goals in the first half in a 4-0 drubbing.

The woeful state of the Rovers' defense was clear in the first four minutes during which Friedel had to handle four shots. He finished the day with seven saves.

Owen's first goal came in the seventh minute when Harry Kewell fed Emile Heskey who controlled and drew defenders toward him, before slipping the ball to his left to an unmarked Owen who used his first touch to beat Friedel who made a tremendous effort and managed to get a hand on the ball.

Two minutes after an Andy Todd own goal put Liverpool ahead 2-0, El-Hadji Diouf brought the ball in from the right side. Again defenders moved to cover him and left Owen essentially alone. Diouf flicked the ball to him and Owen unleashed a fierce right-footed drive in full stride that beat Friedel into the far corner of the net to make it 3-0 in the 24th minute.

Friedel made three brilliant saves in the second half, one on Owen who drilled a 20-yard free-kick, another on Sami Hyypia's close-range shot and then on a good effort by Dietmar Hamann. There was nothing Friedel could do little on Heskey's 10-yard blast which made it 4-0 after 79 minutes.

In England's First Division, Jamie Ashdown, 18, earned another clean sheet in goal as a replacement for injured American Marcus Hahnamann (knee), leading Reading to a 2-0 victory over West Ham United.

U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis, recovering from hernia surgery, remained sidelined for Preston North End which defeated Bradford 1-0.

In the Second Division, American defender\midfielder John Thorrington was again on the bench for Grimsby Town in a 2-0 decision over Sheffield Wednesday.

In France, Greg Vanney paid an apparent price for his midweek call-up to join the U.S. men for their 1-0 victory over Poland in Plock. He was relegated to the bench by Bastia which defeated Nice 2-1.

Even though Bastia is five places and six points above the relegation zone in the tightly-bunched French Ligue 1, it was 1-3-3 in its previous seven outings and in need of a win. One more victory by Bastia would assure the club remaining in the first division.

In the Netherlands, there were reports last week that oft-injured U.S. defender John O'Brien might not be offered a new contract by Ajax Amsterdam. But he was tendered what the Dutch call a one-year "presentation" or "performance" pact.

This means that next season, should O'Brien sign as many close to the situation say he will, the American will be paid a relatively low base salary, but will get substantial bonuses for each match he starts, enters as a reserve or sits on the bench. Given the number of matches he has missed over the past two seasons, the proposal shows that Ajax still wants him, but is hedging its bets, at least financially.

Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman.

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