U.S. men's schedule, results
Friedel is sharp in Rovers' 2-0 win over Aston Villa; Howard sits for Man. U.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Monday, March 22, 2004) -- While Tim Howard sat the bench for Manchester United, his United States men's goalkeeping mate Brad Friedel was both busy and sharp, recording a clean sheet in Blackburn Rovers' satisfying 2-0 road victory over Aston Villa Saturday in England's Premier League.
Friedel made 11 saves to help Rovers overcome a week of off-field strife and record a much-needed win following a week of turmoil.
Villa started out on the attack and Friedel did well to cover a low, angled shot from Darius Vassell. He then directed a shot from Juan Pablo Angel wide of the goalpost.
Gary Flitcroft scored in the 26th minute and Jonathan Stead 10 minutes later to put Rovers ahead 2-0, while Villa managed few good opportunities until the late going. Lee Hendrie fired low after being set up by Angel and Pete Whittingham turned and fired from point-blank range, but Friedel turned away both shots.
Rovers training ground had been in an uproar, first because of a shouting match between manager Graeme Souness and striker Dwight Yorke -- a matter Souness now says is "done and dusted," and then a complaint filed by Andy Cole to the players' union, alleging he has been mistreated by Souness. The latter matter reportedly is the product of a disagreement over travel and days off.
Rovers (8-14-7, 31 points) climbed to 15th place, four points clear of the relegation zone.
Howard was on the Man. United bench -- and will be for at least a couple more matches -- while his teammates beat another American keeper, Kasey Keller, once early and twice late in a 3-0 decision over visiting Tottenham Hotspur.
Roy Carroll was in United's net Saturday and will be for a pair of matches against Premier League-leading Arsenal, Sunday on the road in league play and April 4 in an FA Cup semifinal in Birmingham. Carroll recorded Man. U.'s first shutout since a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United January 11.
Since signing before this season, Howard has started 37 matches for United, four more than Carroll has in his three years at Old Trafford.
With United in third place, 12 points behind Arsenal in the EPL, and having been eliminated last week in the European Champions League, the FA Cup is the Red Devils' last chance for a title, while Arsenal hopes to win all three crowns.
"I wanted to give young Tim Howard a break mentally," Ferguson told reporters after defeating Spurs. "He has been sensational for us since we signed him last summer. He's going to be a top goalkeeper in years to come. Roy deserved a chance. I asked him to show us what he could do and he's kept a clean sheet. Perhaps he's a lucky goalkeeper for us. He will certainly play the next two games."
In rain and extreme winds, Ryan Giggs put United on top 1-0 in the 30th minute with a solid finish that gave Keller no chance.
Keller kept the match close with good saves on Diego Forlan and Ruud van Nistelrooy, but could do little in the 89th minute when young Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo controlled the ball near the center line, carried downfield unmolested and then crashed in a shot off the far post for a 2-0 lead. David Bellion made it 3-0, scoring from a scrum in front of Keller in stoppage time.
After serving his three-match suspension, U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra returned to the Fulham lineup in a hard-fought 2-1 loss to Chelsea.
American Brian McBride came on as a reserve in the 77th minute with Fulham employing a new attack scheme. While manager Chris Coleman calls it a 4-3-3, it more resembles a 4-5-1 with a single forward, Barry Hayles, on top supported by five midfielders. This has sent McBride to the bench.
All three goals in the match came in the first 30 minutes with Damien Duff putting Chelsea ahead 2-1. Most of the rest of the match took place in the crowded midfield with neither team getting much of an advantage.
U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna, was ruled out at the last minute by an ankle injury and did not dress for tonight's Manchester City 2-1 loss to Leeds United.
It turns out the ankle was injured in the first half of the 4-1 victory March 14 over Manchester United. Manager Kevin Keegan replaced both Reyna and midfield partner Steve McManaman at the interval supposedly for tactical reasons, but midweek the manager confirmed both had been injured. Reyna is not expected to be out long. McManaman also sat out tonight against Leeds.
Both Americans playing in England's First Division are sidelined with injuries.
U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis, who had consistently been one of Preston North End's better players, will be sidelined for a minimum of four-to-six weeks following hernia surgery. Preston fell to Walsall 2-1 Saturday.
Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann will be lost to Reading for two-to-four weeks with a strained medial ligament in his knee, but an MRI exam showed no need for surgery. He suffered the injury seven minutes into last Saturday's match against Stoke, but continued to play until midway through the second half.
With Jamie Ashdown in net, Reading beat Cardiff 3-2 Tuesday and lost to Sunderland 2-0 Saturday.
In his second match with Grimsby Town, American midfielder John Thorrington limped off with an ankle injury in the 79th minute of a 2-0 loss to Swindon Wednesday night in England's Second Division. The injury is not considered serious and he was on the bench, though he did not play in Town's 2-0 loss to Hartlepool Saturday.
Thorrington is on loan from Huddersfield Town of the Third Division.
In France, U.S. defender Greg Vanney was solid at left back for Bastia which fought to a 0-0 draw with Le Mans. Bastia earned the shutout despite playing without the three defenders - Anthar Yahia, Cedric Uras and Anthar Yahia -- who usually start with Vanney.
In the Netherlands, U.S. defender John O'Brien continues sidelined with a hamstring strain for Ajax Amsterdam which overwhelmed Vitesse Arnhem 5-0 at home.
In Belgium, American defender Oguchi Onyewu is bothered by a sore knee and did not play for La Louvière in a 1-1 draw with Racing Genk.