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Friedel, Rovers are heading to Europe after 1-0 decision over Chelsea.

Hahnemann, Convey help Reading close season with record.

Berhalter penalty kick moves Cottbus to brink of promotion.

Hahnemann, Convey are back in action as Reading nears record.

Beasley fined $1,852 by Dutch judge for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Spector will have surgery to repair dislocated shoulder.

Spector dislocates shoulder in Charlton victory over Portsmouth.

Controversial goal diverts Rovers' run to European play.

Keller, G'ladbach see UEFA Cup hopes fade away.

Convey assists one goal, sets up another as Reading rolls with 5-2 decision over Cardiff.

Convey assists one goal, sets up another as Reading rolls with 5-2 decision over Cardiff.

Convey assists one goal, sets up another as Reading rolls with 5-2 decision over Cardiff.

Cherundolo, Casey meet; Hannover draws 0-0 with FC Mainz.

McBride goal and possible Fulham road win wash away.

Rossi's 29th goal leads Man. U. reserves' 6-0 rout of City, title hopes.

Americans Abroad

Lewis free kick gives Leeds 1-1 draw with North End in playoff opener.

Eddie Lewis
Leeds United midfielder Eddie Lewis elevates over Patrick Agyemang in last night's 1-1 promotion semifinal tie with Preston North End.
-- Leeds United web site photo --
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)

(Saturday, May 6, 2006) -- United States midfielder Eddie Lewis scored a huge goal for Leeds United last night, allowing it to escape the first leg of its promotion playoff semifinal with a 1-1 with visiting Preston North End.

The aggregate-goals series concludes Monday night at Preston's Deepdale. The winner advances to the one-match promotion final May 21 at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The survivor joins Reading (with U.S. goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Bobby Convey) and Sheffield United as the English League Championship's three promoted teams.

The crowd of 35,239 was the largest for Leeds at Elland Road in its two seasons in the League Championship since being relegated from the Premier League.

Lewis was named Tuesday to his second U.S. World Cup team, which reports Wednesday to training camp, but he will not report to Cary, N.C., until Leeds' playoff run is over. He delivered the equalizer against North End with a free kick in the 74th minute.

After Claude Davis fouled Liam Miller 22 yards from goal, Lewis curled a left-footer over the defensive wall. Defender Graham Alexander, who had retreated to cover the near post, tried to head the ball out, but the ball was a bit too high and he only managed to redirect it into the right upper side netting with goalkeeper Carlo Nash unable to reach it.

Soon after, Lewis nearly assisted a game-winner. He broke down the left flank and chipped a cross into the box for Robbie Hulse, who was ruled offside.

Preston striker David Nugent, an England under-21 team member who had just gotten back from a broken foot, put the visitors ahead with a brilliant individual effort three minutes into the second half.

Five minutes later, Lewis carried into the box, but was taken down by Tyrone Mears. Referee Phil Crossley waved off appeals from the Leeds bench for a penalty kick.

Lewis got involved in the action early and had a strong first half, joining Gary Kelly and David Healy in peppering crosses into the box, but North End often had as many as seven men back to defend in its area.

The match and series carry some irony for Lewis, who starred at Preston last season, but saw the team as being content with mid-table finishes while it built a state-of-the-art training facility and improved its financial standing. So when his contract expired, he moved on a free transfer to Leeds, a former Premiership side he felt was willing to spend the money to acquire the players needed to return to the top division.

Preston surprised most observers by finishing fourth in the League Championship, one point and one place better than Leeds, which slumped and won only once in its last 10 regular-season outings (1-3-6).

Jay DeMerit
Jay DeMerit and the Watford defense stifled Crystal Palace.
-- Watford web site photo --
American defender Jay DeMerit went the distance for Watford which is well on its way to the promotion final after thrashing host Crystal Palace 3-0 today in the first leg of their series before 22,280 at Selhurst Park.

Watford completely shut down Palace's attack and won on second-half goals from Marlon King, Ashley Young and Matthew Spring. Palace keeper Gabor Kiraly came up big three times or the final score would have been much worse.

Demerit and Malky Mackay, his partner in the central defense, did a good job in shutting down Palace striker Andy Johnson, who looked early like he was prepared to have a big day.

The second leg will be played Tuesday at Vicarage Road.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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