Beasley helps Rangers get off to good start.
By Robert Wagman(in Washington, D.C.)
and Gary Davidson (in Washington, D.C.)
(Monday, August 13, 2007) -- United States midfielder DaMarcus Beasley moved directly into the starting lineup and went the distance for his new club, Glasgow Rangers, who easily won their first two Scottish Premier League matches.
Additionally, Beasley became an instant hero for Rangers fans when he scored the only goal in Rangers' 1-0 defeat of FK Zeta in Podgorica, Montenegro, giving the team an aggregate 3-0 victory in the Champions League second-round qualifying series.
Rangers begin the fourth and final round of qualifying for the first-tier European tournament Tuesday with the home leg of a series with Crvena Zvezda of Belgrade, Serbia. Should Rangers lose the series, they would enter the second-level UEFA Cup competition
Beasley, who did not play in the 2-0 home victory having just arrived, made it 1-0 against Zeta when he lashed a 20-yard shot past Zeta goalkeeper Sasa Ivanovic in the 81st minute.
The goal came on a difficult day for Beasley and his teammate, Frenchman Jean-Claude Darcheville, who were subject to relentless racist taunting. The incident generated headlines all over Europe and both world governing body FIFA and UEFA, the European federation, are investigating and likely will assess fines and other punishments soon.
Rangers, along with Glasgow rival Celtic, have been the dominant teams in Scotland for decades. When former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna was Rangers' captain (1998-2001), they were a powerful club that rarely lost a league match, almost never at its home stadium Ibrox. Every year Rangers dueled Celtic to see who took home the Premier League trophy.
However, Rangers have fallen on somewhat hard times over the past few years. Many of their best players have moved on to greener pastures and, in 2005, placed third, an unheard-of finish, before coming in second last season, 12 points behind Celtic.
So Rangers manager Walter Smith spent freely over the summer and brought in a number of new players, including Beasley, for whom he paid a reported $1.5 million transfer fee PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands. Last season, PSV loaned Beasley to Manchester City of the English Premier League.
Other new faces include Spanish center-back Carlos Cuellar, along with Kirk Broadfoot, former captain of Scotland's St. Mirren, Lee McCulloch, who came over from the EPL's Wigan, striker Jean-Claude Darcheville from Bordeaux, France, and Steven Whittaker from Hibernian of Scotland.
So far, so good for the new Rangers, who are 2-0 in the Premier League after opening with a 3-0 decision on the road at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, followed by Saturday's 2-0 home win over St Mirren. In both matches, Beasley used his speed down the flank to create opportunities and had several good chances himself, though he did not score.
One problem for Beasley had last season with Manchester City was, given his small stature, he was did not hold up well to the physical pounding he took and was too easily moved off the ball by bigger defenders. That might prove to be a problem in Scotland also. At Inverness, he was banged around by right back Ross Tokely and, at one point, Smith, his manager, was nearly sent to the dressing room by referee Kenny Clark for complaining furiously about the treatment of his player.
"I knew it would be physical, I've always been a small guy," Beasley told reporters. "Other players have always towered over me. They always try to knock me off the ball. On Saturday, they went over the top, but I just got up and got on with my football. I'm not a guy who goes and yells and screams. I just get on with the game and try to keep the ball moving."
Adu eyes Benfica debut
American midfielder Freddy Adu will be in uniform and on the bench, hoping to make his debut for Benfica of Portugal in Tuesday's Champions League first-leg qualifier against FC Copenhagen.
Adu, 18, who was acquired from Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer for a reported $2-million transfer fee and joined his new club July 31, was one of 19 players named to the roster for the match at Benfica's Stadium of Light.
"Adu has only had seven days of training, but he has enormous potential and he is available," Benfica coach Santos told the Associated Press. .
Feilhaber set to join Derby County
DERBY, England -- U.S. midfielder Benny Feilhaber was issued a work permit, clearing the was for him to move from Hamburger SV of the German Bundesliga to Derby County of the English Premier League.
"We're bringing in another very good young player with excellent potential who is growing in stature with his national team," Derby manager Billy Davies told reporters. ""I believe he is ready for the challenge of the Premier League."
England's Home Office approved the permit on appeal. Feilhaber, 22, who was born in Brazil, but moved to the United States when he was six-years-old, was initially turned down because he had not played in 75 percent of his country's matches in major competitions over the last two years.
Lewis is now a defender
In England's third-division League One, Leeds United opened its season with a 2-1 road victory over Tranmere.
U.S. Eddie Lewis, formerly a midfielder, is starting at left back. Leeds began the season with a 15-point penalty, assessed because of its financial problems, so the one-time Premier League power, is facing an uphill climb to avoid relegation for a third straight season. Leeds chairman Ken Bates is appealing the penalty, claiming it should have been imposed at the end of last season when his team fell out of the second-tier League Championship.
Cherundolo, Hannover drop opener
In the German Bundesliga, Hannover 96 dropped its opener 1-0 to visiting Hamburg SV 1-0.
U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo was solid at right back, but Hannover showed little offense and could easily have lost by two goals or more with the visitors coming close on a number of occasions.
Onyewu back with Standard
In Belgium's Juplier League, Standard de Liège is off to a fine start, winning its opening two matches with Oguchi Onyewu back in the center of defense after spending the second half of last season on loan to Newcastle United of the English Premier League.
Efforts to transfer Onyewu to a bigger club failed.
Onyewu went the distance this week when Standard defeated newly-promoted FC Molenbeek Brussels Strombeek 4-1 on a hat trick from Milan Jovanovic. A week earlier, he played 90 minutes when Liège went on the road to down Zulte-Waregem 4-1.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent. Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes publisher and managing editor.
Do you have a comment on this story or something to say about soccer in general? Send us a letter.
©Copyright 2007 SoccerTimes.com. All Rights Reserved.