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

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.

Americans Abroad

Bocanegra joins Fulham after winning work permit appeal.

Carlos Bocanegra
Carlos Bocanegra joined Fulham in England's Premier League after his work permit was approved on appeal.
-- Chicago Fire web site photo by Jonathan Daniel --
By Gary Davidson (in Washington, D.C.)

(Thursday, January 8, 2004) -- Chicago Fire star central defender Carlos Bocanegra has signed to play for Fulham of England's Premier League.

Bocanegra moves to Fulham on a free transfer, joining a club that is currently seventh in the Premier League after playing for four seasons in Major League Soccer. Terms of his contract were not released

Bocanegra, 24, was granted a work permit on appeal to a six-member panel of England's Home Office after his initial request was denied.

Bocanegra is coming off his finest season for both the Fire and with the United States men. He started all 13 of his 2003 appearances for the U.S. -- giving him 20 career caps -- scoring four times and adding two assists, recording the most goals by an American defender since Marcelo Balboa scored four in 1994.

For Chicago last year, Bocanegra was named MLS "Defender of the Year" for the second consecutive season, helping the Fire to its third MLS Cup in five years, losing the final to the Kansas City Wizards in 2000 and San Jose Earthquakes in 2003 during Bocanegra's tenure with the team.

"MLS has been a huge part of my development as a player," Bocanegra said. "I couldn't have achieved the level of success with the U.S. national team without my years with the Chicago Fire. I'm going to miss my teammates."

Bocanegra had been seeking a job overseas for several months and had also drawn interest from Premiership clubs Leeds United, Manchester City and West Ham United.

"It's been a long road and it's finally coming to an end," Bocanegra said. "There's been a lot of waiting and hoping, and now I'm just relieved that I know where I'm going. The English Premier League has been my favorite to watch since I was in high school. Fulham is a great club and (manager) Chris Coleman seems like a great guy. I'm confident that I can compete at this level, and I think it's going to be a great challenge.

"London is a pretty sweet place. The British culture is very similar to the U.S., so it should be an easy transition."

Bocanegra joins Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard (MetroStars, 1998-2003) and Blackburn Rovers keeper Brad Friedel (Columbus Crew, 1996-97) as Americans who moved from MLS and are currently in the Premier League. Three other members of the U.S. national team are in the Premiership -- Kasey Keller, the starting keeper for Tottenham Hotspur; midfielder Claudio Reyna, a starter for Manchester City; and striker Jovan Kirovski who sees considerable action as a reserve for Birmingham City.

Two American MLS veterans are standouts in England's First Division -- keeper Marcus Hahnemann (Colorado Rapids, 1997-99) with Reading and midfielder Eddie Lewis (San Jose Clash, 1996-99) with Preston North End.

Gary Davidson is a SoccerTimes managing editor. E-mail Gary Davidson.

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