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

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

Gibbs signs with Charlton; Lewis, Leeds United advance in promotion quest.

Cory Gibbs
Cory Gibbs hopes to have found a home a London's Charlton Athletic
-- Charlton Athletic web site photo --
By Chris Courtney (in Brussels)
and Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)

(Monday, May 8, 2006) -- United States defender Cory Gibbs signed a deal today with Charlton Athletic of the English Premier League.

Meanwhile, U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis and Leeds United are within one game of returning to the Premier League following a two-year absence. Despite finishing the game with nine players, Leeds defeated host Preston North End 2-0 for an aggregate 3-1 triumph in the promotion playoff semifinal.

Leeds will probably face Watford in the May 21 promotion final at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Watford, the employer of American defender Jay DeMerit, heads home for tomorrow's second leg of its semifinal series after opening with a 3-0 decision at Crystal Palace.

Gibbs, 26, who moved on a free transfer from Feyenoord Rotterdam of the Dutch Eredivisie, was selected last week to the U.S. World Cup team. His arrival is imminent in Cary, N.C, for the U.S. training camp which starts Wednesday.

Gibbs, whose move is conditional on his obtaining a work permit, was targeted by a number of sides, including Middlesbrough, Bolton Wanderers and Reading before he settled on Charlton. "Playing Premiership football has always been my dream and I was flattered to have such options," he told the Charlton web site. "I honestly believe I am joining a club that is ambitious and hungry for success."

"Having met with the representatives from Charlton, I was hugely impressed with the chairman Richard Murray and his ambitious plans for the continued development of the club," Gibbs added.

Gibbs did not play last season for Feyenoord. He injured his left knee in the U.S. men's 2-1 loss in a May 28 friendly in Chicago and had surgery in June to repair a torn meniscus. After spending five-plus months rehabilitating in Florida, Gibbs reported to Feyenoord on January 19, only to be told five days later his services were not needed. A week later, he was recalled and loaned to Eredivisie rival ADO Den Haag, which let him go after the season.

Gibbs signed with Feyenoord in January 2005 with a contract that reportedly ran to the summer of 2009 and he immediately became a starter under coach Ruud Gullit, scoring one goal in 15 appearances.

Gullit was fired after that season and Gibbs never played for his replacement Erwin Koeman, who had stated a strong preference for Dutch players.

The vagabond Gibbs now hopes to have found a home at the Valley in London.

Rather than sign with Major League Soccer, the Brown University graduate chose a move to Europe in 2001 when he joined Germany's FC St Pauli. There, he became the youngest American ever to score in the Bundesliga when he tallied a goal against FC Cologne that year.

He spent three years with the Hamburg-based side before returning to spend 2004 with the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) of MLS.

Gibbs could wind up playing on the same back-line with U.S. teammate Jon Spector who spent last year with Charlton on loan from Manchester United. Spector's season and World Cup hopes ended when he separated his shoulder which required surgery last Tuesday.

The future for Spector, 20, is not immediately clear, though it is certainly bright. U.S. manager Bruce Arena said Spector would have had a good chance to make his Cup squad had he not been hurt.

Eddie Lewis
Eddie Lewis and Leeds United are hoping to be promoted to the Premier League next season.
-- Leeds United web site photo --
Because Leeds advanced, Lewis will miss the entire two-week U.S. training camp in Cary and will report just in time for a May 23 game against Morocco at The Coliseum in Nashville, the first of three friendlies before the Americans head to Germany 2006.

Leeds tied Preston 1-1 Friday night at home in the series opener.

Tonight's match was tense and physical with North End losing striker Brett Ormerod in the first half with a broken leg after a hard tackle and goalkeeper Carlo Nash suffered a fractured cheekbone. There were fights in the stands and a 45-minute halftime break because of a power failure.

Leeds broke through for a 1-0 lead on a goal by Rob Hulse in the 56th minute, an advantage that moved to 2-0 five minutes later on a tally by Frazer Richardson.

From that point, Leeds concentrated on defense despite losing defender Stephen Crainey to his second yellow card in the 68th minute. Midfielder Richard Cresswell, who entered in the 78th minute, lasted only 12 minutes before being sent off with his second yellow cards. Eight United players were issued a total of 10 yellow cards, while only one member of North End was cautioned.

Lewis played last season for Preston, which had a goal disallowed tonight in the 81st minute when the referee ruled a cross had curved out of touch before it came into the box and was headed home

SoccerTimes publisher and managing editor Gary Davidson contributed to this report.

Chris Courtney is an expatriate American living in Brussels. Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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