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Friedel is solid in net for Rovers, but Blackburn is sinking.

Friedel, Rovers have tough week, falling in Cup, league.

Nightmare grows for Lewis, Leeds United.

Friedel makes seven saves, but Rovers fall to Bolton 1-0.

Reading gains respect despite recent Premier League slide.

McBride recovers from blood disorder to lead Fulham.

Keller, Mönchengladbach go down 3-0 to Werder Bremen.

With Lewis starting, Leeds defeats Birmingham under interim manager.

Happy Howard helps Everton rise near top of English Premier League.

Blues fans see red over Beasley's (brief) choice of boots.

Number of Americans in top European leagues increases.

Convey assists winner, Reading drops Manchester City 1-0 in EPL.

With Johnson on the attack, Wolves win again, 1-0 over Leeds.

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Americans Abroad

With Convey hurt, Reading reverses slide by winning pair.

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

WASHINGTON (Friday, November 24, 2006) -- United States midfielder Bobby Convey has returned to the United States to recuperate from a knee injury and will be absent from the Reading lineup for several weeks of English Premier League action.

"Bobby suffered some bone bruising in his knee. . . in training," Reading trainer Jon Fearn told the team's web site. "He had some rest and came back for the Portsmouth game (Octiber 28), but was still feeling discomfort, so we've pulled him out to let it all settle down."

Convey has missed three matches since then. Reading, which heads to Fulham tomorrow, had dropped five games in a row -- four league matches and elimination from the Carling Cup -- before winning its last two outings, both at home.

On Saturday, U.S. goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann turned in a strong effort in a 2-0 triumph over visiting Charlton Athletic before 24,093, 17 less fans than the record crowd that had filled Madejski Stadium six days earlier.

Seol Ki-Hyeon and Kevin Doyle scored for the Royals and Hahnemann made those goals stand up with six saves en route to his clean sheet. Hahenemann's best stop was on a hard drive by Dennis Rommedahl in the second half and he also produced nice efforts to deny Andy Reid's free kick and defender Talal El Karkouri's attempt off a corner kick.

On November 12, Reading snapped its skid by coming from behind to defeat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 before the record crowd of 24,110.

Spurs went ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute when Robbie Keane sent Hahnemann the wrong way and converted a penalty kick fter Ibrahima Sonko had tripped Keane in the box.

Nicky Shorey tied the game in the 38th minute and Steve Sidwell put the Royals ahead 2-1 seven minutes later. Kevin Doyle made it 3-1 in the 79th minute.

Hahnemann was tough all afternoon, making six saves, including good ones on Dimitar Berbatov, Keane and Hossam Ghaly.

Reading's 2-0 loss November 2 at Liverpool was predictable since the host had not been beaten at Anfield in 41 matches, spanning more than a year. Ten days after Reading was sent out of the Carling Cup by Liverpool 4-3, the Royals returned to Anfield with a more defensive posture, but it was not good enough to prevent a pair of strikes from Dutch international Dirk Kuyt.

Liverpool went ahead 1-0 in the 12th minute by exploiting a bad defensive error. Kuyt was allowed to run totally unmarked and steered a sharp header into the net. Hahnemann, who had been holding the post against Crouch, threw himself across the goal, but too late.

In the 22nd minute, Hahnemann made a brilliant reaction save on a flicked header from Kuyt and pushed a longer-range shot from the Dutchman wide in first-half stoppage time.

In the second half, Hahnemann made saves on Gerrard, Kuyt and then Gerrard in the 70th minute, steering the shot wide. On the ensuing corner kick, Crouch hit a hrad header, but Hahnemann was screened by his defender Jamie Carragher. In a last-second move, Hahnemann threw an arm up and deflected the ball, but directly to Kuyt, who scored from about a yard out.

Reading (6-6-1, 19 points) has climbed from the bottom half of the 20-team table back into eighth place.

DaMarcus Beasley, Convey's friend and midfield mate since both were in residence with the U.S. under-17 men, also is ailing with a sore ankle and did not dress for either of Manchester City's last two matches.

There were still three Americans in the starting lineup Saturday when City swept to a relatively easy 3-1 decision over visiting Fulham.

Striker Bernardo Corradi, recently promoted to the starting lineup, scored twice and Joey Barton added another goal just before halftime for City. U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna played mostly in a defensive role with his midfield partner Barton pushing forward often.

U.S. striker Brian McBride and defender Carlos Bocanegra both started for Fulham, but were yanked at intermission with the Cottagers trailing 3-0. Neither contributed much with the pair replaced by two strikers, Heidar Helguson and Collins John.

Reyna, who went the distance against Fulham, last only 60 minutes in a 0-0 draw with visiting Newcastle United November 11. Reyna was replaced by Corradi, who appeared to have scored the winner in stoppage time, but referee Graham Poll ignited controversy. disallowing the tally by calling a foul in the box.

Reyna and Beasley both started November 4 in a 1-0 setback to Charlton at The Valley, dropping City to 0-5-1 on the road despite holding a 16-9 shots advantage

Beasley, who was listed as a striker, was lifted in the 50th minute after playing much of the time withdrawn on the left flank, resembling a fifth midfielder. Reyna played deep in the center of midfield.

City (4-5-4, 16) is tied with Tottenham (4-5-4) for 12th place.

Prior to losing to Manchester City, Fulham came away with a 1-1 draw from a visit to red-hot Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

McBride and Bocanegra both started and Bocanegra nearly scored in the first half when he beat goalkeeper David Games with a header off Claus Jensen's corner kick, only to see a defender clear the ball from the goal-line.

Fulham went ahead 1-0 on defender Zat Knight's header off a corner in the 57th minute with Andy Cole coming up with the equalizer for Portsmouth 17 minutes later.

On November 4, McBride and Bocanegra faced U.S. teammate, keeper Tim Howard, beating him and visiting Everton 1-0 triumph before a small crowd of 23,327 at Craven Cottage.

Howard made six saves, but lost when Claus Jensen's shot deflected off Lee Carsley as he tried to tackle the ball and looped over the keeper in the 66th minute.

Neither side generated much attack until a frantic five minutes of stoppage time. McBride came off in favor of an additional defender for the added minutes.

Last Saturday, Howard survived one glaring error, but posted a shutout at home in defeating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 at Goodison Park.

Howard made a good early save on Idan Tal, but then almost gave away a goal when he sent a clearance directly to Bolton midfielder Gary Speed, who missed inches wide from 30 yards out. Howard made up for his mistake with an athletic save on El-Hadji Diouf just seconds before Mikel Arteta scored the only goal of the match.

The goal was Everton's first in three weeks after coming up empty in two league games and its 1-0 elimination from the Carling Cup at the hands of Arsenal. On November 11. Everton fell just short, losing 1-0 to Aston Villa before a home crowd of 36,376.

Howard had six saves, including a great kick save on Stiliyan Petrov, but there was nothing he could do to keep Chris Sutton's header out of the net in the 42nd minute.

Everton (5-3-5, 20) is in seventh place, while Fulham (4-4-5, 17) is in 11th.

After stunning Arsenal 1-0 November 4, West Ham United dropped a pair of 1-0 results. On Saturday, West Ham fell to host Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on a goal by defender Geremi Njitap in the 22nd minute. A strong effort by U.S. defender Jonathan Spector went for naught.

On November 11, West Ham again came out on the short end against host Middlesbrough because of a goal from reserve Massimo Maccarone in the 74th minute. Spector went the distance and picked up a yellow card in the 54th minute for unsportsmanlike behavior.

Before 34,969 thrilled home fanes at Upton Park, Marlow Harewood found net in the 89th minute to drop Arsenal. Spector did his part is a particularly strong effort by the West Ham back-line and was issued a yellow card in the 18th minute.

West Ham (3-8-2, 11) is in 16th place, one point and two positions above the relegation zone.

Watford is in the relegation zone at 1-6-6 with nine points, sitting 19th, one point above the basement. American defender Jay DeMerit score a rare goal to give the Hornets a lead at Portsmouth, but his foul led to the Lomana LuaLua' late penalty kick that allowed the Blues to prevail 2-1

When DeMerit headed home Ashley Young's corner kick, it was only Watford's third goal on the road this season. Nwankwo Kanu toed the game for Portsmouth just before the break, before DeMerit, who otherwise played extremely well, was booked for a slight tug at Kanu's shoulder in the box, sending the Nigerian tumbling to the ground in the 88th minute.

Watford boss Adrian Boothroyd was infuriated by call, thinking Kanu took a dive. "DeMerit showed what we are all about, putting his neck on the line for the sake of the team," Boothroyd said. "But I think it was a case of the referee dealing with big personalities -- and I'm not talking about my players here -- and being over-awed by the occasion."

Boothroyd then risked the wrath of the Football Association by suggesting officials who get decisions wrong should be put "in the stocks" and hit with "rotten tomatoes."

Watford was no match for powerful Chelsea November 11 and fell 4-0 with Didier Drogba collecting three goals. DeMerit went the distance for Watford's over-matches back-line.

On November 4, Watford recorded its first league victory since be promoted this season from the League Championship by downing visiting Middlesbrough 2-0 at Vicarage Road Stadium.

In the Hornets' 11th Premier League contest, Watford benefited from an own goal in the sixth minute and Young nice strike in the 59th.

DeMerit went 90 minutes at right back and made a brilliant block on a hard shot by Nigerian striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu just as the first half ended, allowing the Hornets to take a lead into the locker-room

On November 7, Watford played a 2-2 draw with visiting Newcastle, but went out of the Carling Cup in the fourth round after dropping the penalty-kicks tiebreaker 5-4. As usual, DeMerit went the whole way.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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