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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.

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    Americans Abroad

    Berhalter, Cottbus clinch promotion with 3-1 win over München.

    By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)

    (Sunday, May 14, 2006) -- United States defender Gregg Berhalter converted an important equalizing penalty kick late in the first half, helping Energie Cottbus secure promotion to the Bundesliga next season by coming from behind to defeat visiting 1860 München 3-1 today at Stadion der Freundschaft.

    Entering the final day of the 2. Bundeliga season, Cottbus controlled its own fate, sitting in third place, the third and final promotion position, one point ahead of Greuther Fürth and two points clear of both Karlsruher SC and SC Freiburg. With Fürth visiting Freiburg and Karlsruhe hosting SC Paderborn today, Energie knew a loss would likely mean another season in the second division and even a draw could prove disastrous.

    Cottbus was shocked in the 21st minute when 1860, which finished 13th among 18 teams at 11-14-9 with 42 points, went ahead 1-0 on a goal by Paul Agostino in the 21st minute.

    Cottbus pulled even at 1-1 in the 42nd minute after 1860 defender Slobodan Komljenovic was called for a handling Vragel da Silva's right-side cross in the box. Berhalter drilled the penalty kick down the middle and just under the crossbar while goalkeeper Michael Hofmann guessed wrong and dove.

    Vragel da Silva headed home a corner kick in the 54th minute, while Kevin McKenna later nodded home an insurance tally in the 78th to give Cottbus the triumph.

    In the 70th minute, 19-year-old defender Fabian Johnson, who has dual German-American citizenship, entered for 1860. Johnson, who normally plays for 1860's under-23 side, is the son of an American who was born and grew up in Germany.

    The attendance, estimated at 23,000, was the largest ever to see a Cottbus home match.

    Freiburg ended up defeating Greuther Fürth 1-0 and would have been promoted instead of Cottbus, had it lost. Karlsruhe was upset by Paderborn 3-2. Thus, Cottbus (16-8-10, 58 points) placed third, followed by Freiburg (16-10-8, 56), Fürth (15-10-9, 54) and Karlsruhe (15-11-8, 53).

    So Berhalter has something to celebrate after the disappointment of not being named to the U.S. World Cup team. He will join his American teammates -- goalkeeper Kasey Keller (Borussia Mönchengladbach), defender Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96) and Conor Casey (1. FSV Mainz 05) in the top German division next season.

    Berhalter was not the only American to enjoy promotion today. Defender Josh Grenier, who was born in Bedford, N.H., went 90 minutes on defense for TuS Koblenz (16-4-12, 60) which drew 2-2 with SpVgg Bayreuth, clinching second place in the third-division Regionalliga Süd and a spot next season in the 2. Bundesliga.

    Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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