U.S. men's schedule, results
Howard starts again and Manchester United draws 1-1 with Chelsea.By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Monday, May 10, 2004) -- United States goalkeeper Tim Howard started his third match in a row for Manchester United, turning in a good five-save performance in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea Saturday in England's Premier League.
Jesper Gronkjaer, who had scored a brilliant Champions League goal for Chelsea in a losing effort against Monaco on Wednesday, nearly duplicated the shot against Howard. Taking Joe Cole's header on the left edge of the penalty area, the Danish international took two steps inside the box and delivered a wickedly curling shot that left Howard with no chance and put Chelsea ahead 1-0 in the 19th minute.
Ruud van Nistelrooy scored to give United the 1-1 tie in the 77th minute
Given this was Howard's third straight start, it opens the question of who manager Alex Ferguson will start when United faces Millwall May 22 in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. After Howard suffered a late season letdown, Ferguson had inserted Northern Ireland international Roy Carroll for four matches. Carroll played well and the job looked to be his for the remainder of the season, but Ferguson went back to Howard and the American has played well.
Tottenham Hotspur turned in a workmanlike performance Saturday with U.S. keeper Kasey Keller gathering another clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers. Keller was not called on often, but twice in the second half he came up big against Andy Cole.
Keller's U.S. teammate, goalie Brad Friedel is sidelined for the last two matches of the season with a groin strain and young Peter Enckelman represented himself well in his first start for Rovers.
Tottenhan is in a state of upheaval. The club has been without a permanent manager since firing Glenn Hoddle in September with the club's director of football David Pleat serving as acting coach. This week, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy branded the club's season as "unacceptable" and described the team's current form as "appalling."
Levy said his top priority was finding a coach and that changes would be coming this summer. Keller has been playing behind an always questionable defense, a liability for a team that rarely scores more than one goal a game, and he has complained he feels unappreciated. Whether Keller will be with Spurs next season has to be considered an open question.
Manchester City and U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna will remain in the Premiership next season despite a 2-1 loss to Middlesbrough Saturday. Leeds United cooperated by giving up two late goals in a 3-3 draw with Charlton, guaranteeing that City will finish one spot above the relegation zone despite playing some very poor soccer over the last half of the season.
Reyna did well over 90 minutes with City's only goal coming from a rejuvenated Paulo Wanchope who is back after a series of injuries this season. That is good news for City, but not for the U.S. men who expect to face Wanchope and Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying.
Yesterday, league champion Arsenal (25-0-12, 87 points) made it 37 matches without a loss this season by using Jose Antonio Reyes' goal in the ninth minute for a 1-0 decision over luckless Fulham.
U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra started at left back and played well for 90 minutes. Fulham, despite several good chances, just could beat Arsenal keeper Edwin van der Sar. Shortly after he came on for Fulham in the 58th minute, American striker Brian McBride flicked a ball to Steed Malbranque, but he failed to connect even though van der Sar beaten. That was the closest Fulham would come to scoring.
In England's First Division, American keeper Marcus Hahnemann went the distance for the Reading reserves Wednesday. Teen Jamie Ashdown, coming off of a pair of shutouts, started yesterday for the first team in a 1-0 loss to Watford in the season finale, a setback that extinguished Reading's faint hopes of making it into the playoff for promotion next season. Reading finished in ninth place at 20-16-10 with 70 points, three points and three positions behind sixth place which is the lowest spot included in the four-team playoff.
Preston North End (15-17-14, 59) finished 15th after a 3-3 draw yesterday Sheffield United. U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis went the distance on the left flank and had a couple of good tries on goal in the match which saw North End come from behind three times.
In Belgium, American defender Oguchi Onyewu went the distance for La Louvière which used three second-half goals to defeat Beveren 3-2.
In France, U.S. defender Greg Vanney remained on the bench for Bastia which played a 0-0 draw with Strasbourg. Gaining a point in the Ligue 1 standings helped both clubs who are poised above the drop zone, but not mathematically out of danger. With three games left, Bastia (9-14-12, 39) is in 13th place, five points and five positions above the relegation zone, one point ahead of Strasbourg (9-15-11).
Three Americans -- Major League Soccer veterans Brian Dunseth and Steve Shak, and Leighton O'Brien are playing this season with Bodens BK in Sweden's Superettan, the second division below the Allsvenskan.
Dunseth, a defender, played for the New England Revolution, Miami Fusion and Dallas Burn over seven seasons in MLS formerly played for the Dallas Burn. Shak, a defender, was with the MetroStars and Colorado Rapids before spending last season with the Minnesota Thunder in the A-League. O'Brien spent last season with Boden and is a veteran of Major Indoor Soccer League's Milwaukee Wave.
Both Dunseth and Shak played 90 minutes in Boden's home opener, a 1-0 loss May 2 to Assyriska. Dunseth received a yellow card 33 minutes into the match. O'Brien rejoined the team this week after Milwaukee was swept in three games by the Baltimore Blast for the MISL championship.
All three went the whole way in a 2-1 away loss to Ãtvidabergs FF with O'Brien assisting on the Bodens goal.
In the Netherlands, Ajax (25-5-4, 79) wrapped up the Eredivise championship with a 2-0 triumph over NAC Breda. U.S. midfielder\defender John O'Brien remained sidelined for Ajax with a hamstring injury.
Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman.