Friedel makes seven saves, but Rovers fall to Bolton 1-0.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Wednesday, October 25, 2006) -- United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel has had an up-and-down month in the English Premier League. He had to battle back from injury, while Blackburn Rovers dropped a strange match 1-0 to Bolton Wanderers Sunday, following a period in which Rovers qualified for UEFA Cup group play, drew a league game with Liverpool and then went to Poland to win its first UEFA Cup second-round match.
Friedel hurt himself in the first half of a 2-1 league victory over visiting Wigan October 1 and was replaced by backup Jason Brown, who was superb while Rovers used a goal by Benedict McCarthy to complete its comeback decision.
Three days earlier, Friedel turned in a strong performance for Blackburn, which recorded a 4-2 aggregate victory over visiting Red Bull Salzburg with a 2-0 decision in the home leg. This qualified Rovers for Group E in the UEFA Cup.
Friedel's two early saves seem to deflate Salzburg, while the American also made a pair of outstanding second-half saves to earn his clean sheet.
Fortunately, because of an international play date, Friedel had nearly two weeks to recover, if not fully, from his groin ailment and he was in the Rovers net in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool before 44,206 at Anfield. In the 30th minute, Friedel made an outstanding diving save to his left to deny Steven Gerrard's curling 20-yard free kick. Friedel remained on the ground and required lengthy treatment, but was able to continue.
Friedel was sharp and ended with 11 saves. He was beaten in the 64th minute after a defensive lapse allowed unmarked Craig Bellamy to nod home a corner kick from six yards -- his first league goal for Liverpool. That offset a Benni McCarthy goal that had put Blackburn ahead in the 17th minute.
On Thursday, Rovers opened UEFA Cup Group A play by traveling to Wisla Stadium in Krakow in Poland for a 2-1 triumph over Wisla Krakow in a Group E match in a match won on a stoppage-time goal from David Bentley.
Friedel was solid, making six saves though he could do little to prevent the host from taking a lead in the 28th minute. Wisla midfielder Mauro Cantoro's shot was going well wide until it hit defender Tugay, changed direction and rolled past Friedel, who was headed in the wrong direction.
On Sunday, Bolton went to Ewood Park and captured a 1-0 road victory after Rovers failed to convert two late penalty kicks.
Friedel made seven saves, but was beaten in the 62nd minute by Ivan Campo, who was unmarked when he pushed a header past the American. Rovers had 27 shots, 11 on goal, but were defeated when
Finland international keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen topped Benni McCarthy's PK effort in the 87th minute and reserve Jason Roberts' attempt 60 seconds later.
Blackburn is in 10th place in the Premier League at 3-3-3 with 12 points.
Everton split its last two outings, defeating visiting Sheffield United 2-0 Saturday behind a shutout by U.S. keeper Tim Howard.
Howard was called on to make only three saves, but two of them were dandies, making a brilliant reaction save to stop Colin Kazim-Richards from close range and getting a leg on Danny Webber's shot near the end.
Everton had a man advantage after Sheffield defender Claude Davis was sent off with a red card in the 32nd minute for taking down Andrew Johnson in the United box. James Beattie converted the subsequent penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
On the previous Saturday, Everton suffered its first loss of the season after a 3-0-4 league start, falling 2-1 on a trip to Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.
Howard caused himself problems when he dumped Aiyegbeni Yakubu in his box and then went the wrong way when Yakubu netted the ensuing penalty kick for a 1-0 Middlesbrough lead in the 27th minute.
Howard guesses correctly on a second Yakubu PK, turning it away in the 65th minute, but six minutes later, Mark Viduka beat Howard from close range to make it 2-0. Tim Cahill closed the Everton deficit to 2-1 in the 71st minute, but that was it for the Toffees.
Everton (4-1-4, 16 points) is tied with Portsmouth (5-3-1) for fifth place.
Manchester City has not scored in October, its 4-0 setback at Wigan Saturday preceded by a scoreless draw with visiting Sheffield United a week earlier.
City's Americans -- midfielders Claudio Reyna and DaMarcus Beasley -- did not dress for the Wigan match, in which the host scored twice, including an own goal, within the opening four minutes before 16,235 at The JJB Stadium.
Reyna, after getting banged up in practice, was a game-day scratch, while Beasley suffered an ankle injury a week ago in a reserve match against Wigan.
A week earlier, City should have had an easy time against lowly Sheffield United at home before 42,192 at City of Manchester Stadium, but once again they could not generate any offense and came away with an unwanted 0-0 draw. Reyna was left on the bench to start, coming in in the 58th minute for Dietmar Hamann.
City manager Stuart Pearce has yet to give Beasley a start and has confined Reyna to a reserve role in his 4-5-1 formation as he tried to find a combination which can score.
On September 30, City went to Everton and drew 1-1 with Reyna and Beasley figuring in City's tying goal in stoppage time.
Beasley came on in the 66th minute and his speed immediately caused some problems for Everton. In the 75th minute, he picked up the ball on the left side and ran at the Everton defense, only to be taken down inches above the penalty area by Tim Cahill. The resultant free kick, however, was driven into the defensive wall.
Reyna came on in the 77th minute and helped City press the attack. Twice, he combined with Beasley to create openings. In the 94th minute, Beasley kept a ball alive after Everton tried to clear it and fed Reyna. Reyna squared it to the right side for Micah Richards, who smashed it home.
Howard, in net for Everton, made a couple sizable blunders, including mis-hitting a clearance directly into the path of a City player, but the Toffees did not pay for his errors.
City is in 14th place at 2-4-3 with nine points.
U.S. striker Brian McBride started for Fulham which traveled to Aston Villa Saturday for a 1-1 defensive struggle.
Twice in the first half, McBride just missed teammates with crosses twice before coming out in favor of Collins John after 74 minutes.
U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra went the distance and put in a solid defensive performance with the only Villa goal coming on a penalty kick.
Fulham (3-2-4, 13) is tied for eighth place.
American defender Jonathan Spector was not dressed for West Ham United which lost 1-0 on the road at Tottenham Hotspur.
Spector had been starting, but manager Alan Pardew has been making changes, trying to shake a five-match league losing streak, not to mention being knocked out in the first round of the UEFA Cup.
West Ham (1-6-2, 5) is tied for 18th place, one point above the basement.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
Do you have a comment on this story or something to say about soccer in general? Send us a letter.
©Copyright 2006 SoccerTimes.com. All Rights Reserved.