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Howard's saves help Manchester United overcome Aston Villa 2-1 in FA Cup.

Kirovski, Birmingham win duel with Reyna, Manchester City 2-1.

Marcus Hahnemann Q&A

O'Brien returns to Ajax, playing for reserves in Amstel Cup.

Gregg Berhalter Q&A.

Howard works hard for Man. U. in defeat of Manchester City.

Lewis cracks starting lineup, sparks Preston North End twice.

Casey, Berhalter score as their teams draw in Germany.

Keller is key in Tottenham Carling Cup win, is named Spurs' best player.

Howard, Man. U. get the best of Friedel, Rovers before record crowd at Old Trafford.

Hahnemann's shutout leads Reading to 1-0 victory over Millwall.

Friedel, Rovers get back on winning track, 2-1 over Everton.

Reyna out at least two weeks.

Americans Abroad

Reyna injures leg early as Manchester City draws 1-1 with Charlton.

Claudio Reyna
Claudio Reyna (left) hurt his leg in a midfield collision, but his injury was not believed to be serious.
-- Manchester City web site photo --
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
and Gary Davidson (in Washington, D.C.)

(Wednesday, January 7, 2004) -- United States midfielder Claudio Reyna limped off early in Manchester City's 1-1 English Premier League draw today with Charlton United, but initially, the injury was not thought to be serious.

Before 30,617 at City of Manchester Stadium, Reyna received a knock to his leg in the 20th minute and he was replaced by Joey Barton. Robbie Fowler put City ahead 1-0 in the 39th minute, but Charlton tied the game when Paulo Di Canio scored in the 84th.

Reyna put in a solid effort over 90 minutes Saturday in host Manchester City's 2-2 draw with Leicester City in a third-round match that will have to be replayed next Wednesday at Leicester's Walkers Stadium. Should Manchester win, it will host Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round on January 25.

Tottenham and its American goalkeeper Kasey Keller are enjoying a good week. Tonight, Keller was solid for Spurs who rolled over visiting Birmingham City 4-1 in an EPL match before 30,016 at White Hart Lane.

A pair of goals Stephane Dalmat put Spurs ahead 2-0 after 24 minutes and Simon Davies made it 3-0 in the 39th minute. The only goal against Keller came on a Robbie Savage penalty kick in the 67th minute, countered when Robbie Keane finished the scoring for Spurs.

U.S. striker Jovan Kirovski came on for Birmingham in the 83rd minute after the result was assured.

On Saturday, Keller had a relatively easy time as Spurs cruised to an easy 3-0 defeat of the First Division's Crystal Palace in the FA Cup third round. Keller was not called on to make a save until the 58th minute when he stopped a long range blast from Danny Butterfield.

Things became heated when Gustavo Poyet was sent off for Spurs in the 79th minute and Butterfield was shown a red card three minutes later. With each side playing with 10, Keller made a terrific stop on Tony Popovic's header to preserve the shutout.

After U.S. keeper Brad Friedel and Blackburn Rovers were routed 4-0 in the FA Cup by Birmingham City Wednesday, the host Rovers salvaged a 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton on Dwight Yorke's goal in the 78th minute.

Blackburn went ahead 1-0 on an Andy Cole tally in the 14th minute, but the Rovers defense came apart, allowing Paul Butler and Alex Rae to score in the 63rd and 72nd minutes, respectively, the beneficiaries of neat passing combinations.

On Saturday, Rovers defense was absent in the demolition at Birmingham. Friedel did well to keep the match scoreless for the first 20 minutes before the floodgates opened.

Trailing 2-0, Friedel made several excellent saves in the second half, but also watched three Birmingham shots hit the goal frame or go just wide.

Kirovski came on in the 76th minute and added a spark that resulted in Birmingham scoring twice in the last 15 minutes.

U.S. keeper Tim Howard had a lot to do with Manchester United's 2-1 victory tonight over Bolton Wanderers. He made terrific saves on shots from Per Frandsen and Ivan Campo, and twice denied Jay-Jay Okocha.

After Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistlerooy gave United a 2-0 lead in the first half, Howard lost his clean sheet when Youri Djorkaeff blasted a header off a perfect service from Okocha in the 89th minute.

United had to come from behind to defeat Aston Villa 2-1 in the FA Cup Sunday. Howard came up big twice with the match still scoreless, superbly turning away a shot by Juan Pablo Angel and then one from Darius Vassell.

In the 19th minute, Howard, moving in the wrong direction, managed to get a hand on Gareth Barry drive, but could not keep it out and Villa led 1-0. A pair of Paul Scholes tallies within a four-minute span midway through the second half rescued Man. U.

In one of the more interesting FA Cup matchups, American keeper Marcus Hahnemann and Reading faced off against U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis and Preston North End yesterday in a bizarre 3-3 draw.

Preston three times rallied from one-goal deficits and twice victimized itself with own goals. Al six goals came in the first half.

At times, Hahnemann was terrific, making several wonderful saves, the best on Michael Keane's 20-yard blast, a long-range drive from Graham Alexander, and on David Healy. He also stopped a hard shot from Lewis, his close friend.

After own goals put Reading ahead 2-1 and 3-2, Ricardo Fuller twice beat Hahnemann with powerful headers from close range.

Blackburn Rovers' pursuit of Columbus Crew forward Brian McBride is apparently over, at least for now. Rovers manager Graeme Souness is seeking a big target forward and thought McBride would fit the bill. He offered Major League Soccer a deal that would have loaned McBride to Rovers for the remainder of the Premier League season with the prospect off Blackburn paying for a full transfer if McBride did well.

MLS apparently was only willing to talk about a full transfer now or a short-term loan that would have seen McBride back in Columbus for the start of the MLS season in April. Souness reportedly said no and that he would revisit the issue over the summer.

MetroStars and U.S. men's midfielder Clint Mathis is trying his luck with Hannover 96, on trial with the German Bundesliga team that employs American defender Steve Cherundolo

Since the end of the MetroStars' season in October, Mathis has tried out for Leicester of England's Premier League and then Glasgow Rangers of Scotland's Premier League in December, but was not offered a contract by either team.

Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman. Gary Davidson is a SoccerTimes managing editor. E-mail Gary Davidson.

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