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Convey, Hahnemann help Reading thrash Brighton 5-1.

Onyewu returns, Standard shuts out Anderlecht 2-0 for share of first place.

Reyna returns, City regains punch in beating Charlton 5-2.

Cherundolo scores, helps Hannover to first win at Dortmund since 1964.

Keller, Gladbach waste two-goal lead, draw 2-2 with Hertha Berlin.

McBride scores pair, lifting Fulham to 2-1 win over Bolton.

Convey, Hahnemann help Reading climb into first place.

Convey goal, assist lead Reading past Hull 3-1.

Beasley sidelined by hamstring injury.

Friedel, Rovers come back from bad loss to beat Charlton 4-1.

Beasley scores, sparks PSV is 3-0 shutout of Sparta.

Hahnemann, Convey continue to lead way for Reading in League Championship.

Friedel's nine saves are not enough; Chelsea dumps Rovers 4-2.

Reyna is out at least three weeks with knee, ankle injuries; starts talks on new contract.

Hahnemann, Convey keep Reading rolling 1-0 over Stoke City.

Friedel, Rovers have easy time blanking Birmingham City 2-0.

Americans Abroad

Reyna helps dominant Manchester City drop Birmingham City 4-1.

Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel skies high to tip away diving header, but Blackburn Rovers fell 2-1 to Fulham.
-- Blackburn Rovesr web site photo --
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)

(Sunday, December 18, 2005) -- Having Claudio Reyna healthy and engaged is important to the United States men's World Cup aspirations and, if the midfielder's performance yesterday is any indication, American fans can be encouraged.

Reyna and Joey Barton completely dominated the midfield in Manchester City's 4-1 victory at home over Birmingham City in the English Premer League.

Reyna roamed from the left side to the right, sending balls to his attackers or, when none were open, touching them back to defenders. Manchester City went ahead 1-0 on a goal by David Sommeil after 42 seconds and also received tallies from Barton, Antoine Sibierski and Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Reyna came out in the 71st minute to a nice ovation with City holding a 4-0 lead.

City is in seventh place at 8-6-3 with 27 points.

Fulham, with U.S. striker Brian McBride going the distance, recorded a 2-1 decision over Blackburn Rovers, who had American Brad Frieldel in goal.

U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra did not play for Fulham because of an Achilles heel injury.

Although Fulham dominated the midfield, the match was quite even with the visiting Rovers out-shooting Fulham 11-8.

It looked as if the score would be 0-0 at intermission following Friedel's sensational save on Collins John's diving header, but a defensive error allowed an unmarked Papa Bouba Diop to beat Friedel in first-half stoppage time for a 1-0 Fulham lead.

In the 52nd minute, Fulham went ahead 2-0 when Sylvain Legwinski fed McBride who played a one-touch pass into the path of Heidar Helguson. Pulling defenders his way, Helguson slid a pass to Luis Boa Morte, who tapped his shot home.

In the 73rd minute, McBride had a good look at goal on a feed from Helguson, but he was closed down. He received a yellow card in the 80th minute for dissent.

Blackburn did not get on the board until it was the beneficiary of an own goal in injury time.

Blackburn is in 12th place at 6-8-3 with 21 points. At 5-8-4 with 19 points, Fulham stands 14th.

American defender Jonathan Spector started on the bench for Charlton Athletic which was embarrassed 3-0 by Wigan. After Wigan scored its third goal in the 63rd minute, Charlton manager Alan Curbishley put Spector into the midfield in a futile attempt to spark a comeback,

Spector tried hard, but had only a 75th-minute yellow card to show for the effort.

Charlton is in 11th place at 7-8-1 with 22 points.

In the second-division English League Championship, Reading ran its league unbeaten streak to 23 games, posting a 2-0 decision over Millwall, which was reduced to 10 men when Tony Craig was ejected with a red card in the 47th minute.

Reading, 18-1-5 with 59 points, has not lost since Opening Day and the Royals can start looking forward to promotion to the Premier League next season. The top two teams are promoted. Reading leads second-place Sheffield United (16-3-5) -- which drew 0-0 with Preston North End -- by six points but, more importantly, has opened a 20-point gap on third place where Leeds United (11-6-6) and Watford (10-5-9) are tied at 39 points. (Leeds owns a game in hand.)

At The Den in Millwall, Reading led 1-0 when Craig was sent off and the Royals wasted a chance in the 49th minute when Dave Kitson's penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Colin Doyle.

Soon after, U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann made good saves on shots from Bruce Dyer and Ben May, before the Royals secured the victory on Kevin Doyle's tally in the 70th minute.

U.S. midfielder Bobby Convey had a good day. He was denied by a heroic leg save by Colin Doyle just before halftime and later shot wide on a breakaway as Doyle charged out.

Under the Actim Index, the complex formula by which players in England are judged, Hahnemann is the top goalkeeper in the League Championship while Convey is ranked eighth among field players and fourth among midfielders. Three of the top four midfielders play for Reading.

For the second match in a row, Leeds lost 1-0, this time to host Wolverhampton. After last week's home loss to Cardiff, Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell put Simon Walton, Shaun Derry and Richard Cresswell into his starting line-up.

U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis went the distance on the left side, as usual. In the 34th minute, he beat a defender and sent in a well-placed cross but Matthew Kilgallon header was saved by Stefan Postma. With Leeds trying for a late equalizer, Walton was sent off with his second yellow card, making a United comeback more improbable.

American Frank Simek played 90 minutes again in back for Sheffield United, which suffered its fifth straight shutout loss when Ipswich scored in the 87th minute for a 1-0 triumph.

Ipswich managed only four shots, but Nicky Forster's right-footer gave Ipswich its first win in six games and a 1-2-3 mark in that span.

Wednesday (4-12-8, 20 points) slipped into the relegation zone, tied with Crewe (4-12-8) for 22nd place, three points above the basement.

American defender Jay DeMerit again began on the bench for Watford which fell to Burnley 4-1. DeMerit started the second half in the midfield with his club trailing 2-0.

In the German Bundesliga, U.S. keeper Kasey Keller was beaten three times, but Borussia Monchengladbach rallied with three second-half goals to defeat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3. Francisco Copado put Frankfurt ahead 2-0 with goals in the 16th and 21st minutes. Both times the Spanish midfielder was unmarked and Keller had no chance to stop his shots.

Marcell Jansen got the host on the board in the 44th minute, then Oliver Neuville scored two goals in a five-minute span to spark a rally of three goals in 10 minutes for a 4-2 advantage in the 85th minute.

In stoppage time, the G'ladbach defense went to sleep and allowed a sloppy goal by Christian Chris to make the final 4-3.

G'ladbach had gone winless in its last six outings (0-2-4) and is now 6-4-7 with 25 points, tied for sixth place with Stuttgart (5-2-10). Despite the recent slump, G'ladbach has greatly improved its performance from last season when it needed to win its finale to avoid relegation.

With a pulled thigh muscle, U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo sat out Hannover 96's 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.

In the Netherlands, U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley was eased back into PSV Eindhoven's lineup for an easy 4-1 decision at home over Willem II Tilburg.

Beasley, who has missed almost six weeks after suffering a groin and hamstring injury in the United States 1-1 draw with Scotland November 12, came on in the 64th minute with PSV ahead 3-1. Eleven minutes later, he was the victim of a reckless tackle that earned Willem defender Nuelson Wau a red card though Beasley did not appear hurt.

In Belgium, first-place Standard de Liege (12-4-2, 38) opened a two-point lead over arch-rival Anderlecht be earning a hard-fought 2-0 decision over Lierse in the last match before the Juliper League takes its winter break. Anderlecht (10-2-6) drew 0-0 with La Louvière.

American Oguchi Onyewu started in the center of Standard's defense and went the distance against Lierse in a match that was not iced until a stoppage-time goal by Mohammed Tchite.

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

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