Adu scores key goal, sees playing time increase with Benfica.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Wednesday, October 31,2007) -- American midfielder Freddy Adu is starting to make progress with Benfica of Portugal. On Sunday, he came off the bench to score his first Liga bwin goal in the 88th minute, lifting shorthanded Benfica over Maritimo 2-1, a victory which allowed the unbeaten Lisbon club (4-0-4) to move into second place, trailing perfect FC Porto (8-0-0) by eight points.
After new coach Jose Antonio Camacho took over shortly after Adu arrived, the American had difficulty impressing the Spaniard. The 18-year-old has had to fight for first-team playing time with only limited appearances in Cup matches, while not even dressing in league games.
In recent weeks, however, that has started to change. Adu has seen substantial time in Taça da Liga Cup games and, based on some fine play in those contests, is now seeing league action as a late substitute.
On Sunday, Adu replaced Maxi Pereira in the 81st minute with Benfica having been reduced to 10 men since the 30th minute. With a 1-1 draw looming, Adu shook off a defender and put himself in position to redirect a right-side cross from Brazilian defender Leo to give visiting Benfica the triumph.
In the first leg of a fourth-round Taça da Liga match October 20 against Vitoria Setubal, Adu came on in the 70th minute and also scored a late goal to allow Benfica to salvage a 1-1 road draw.
Camacho played only four first-team regulars and Benfica's performance showed it. With the match entering its final moments, Benfica staved off defeat when a long ball from the back deflected off a defender's head and fell to Adu , who struck a low drive with his first touch into a corner of the net from 20 yards.
Beasley contributes, but Rangers fall to Dundee United
In Scotland's Premier League, U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley went the distance for Glasgow Rangers, who suffered a 2-1 defeat Sunday at the hands of Dundee United, coming off a resounding 3-0 defeat of arch-rival Celtic and a brave European Champions League 0-0 draw with powerful Barcelona.
Against Dundee, Beasley burst into the box and was taken down by Christian Kalvenes in the 53rd minute. Daniel Cousin converted the penalty kick for a 1-1 tie. Three minutes later, Barry Robson's PK gave Dundee its 2-1 margin of victory.
Five days earlier, Rangers entertained Barcelona at Ibrox. Rangers manager Walter Smith opted to go with a big lineup and play the visiting Spanish side as physically as possible. This put the slight Beasley on the bench.
Smith's strategy worked to the degree that although Rangers did not do much offensively, they also kept Barcelona off the scoreboard. Beasley came off the bench in the 75th minute to help Rangers preserve their clean sheet, using his speed to hold the ball against tired opponents.
The high point of the Rangers season came when they defeated crosstown rival Celtic 3-0 October 20 in the first of this season's "Old Firm" matches. Smith started Beasley on the bench because he returned from the U.S. 1-0 decision over match against Switzerland three days earlier with a minor calf strain. Beasley did enter in the 75th minute and four minutes later put Charlie Adam into the box where he was taken down, leading to a penalty kick that accounted for Rangers' third goal.
Despite the convincing win over Celtic, Rangers (7-3-1, 22 points) dropped three points behind Celtic (8-2-1) and into a tie with Dundee (7-3-1) after Sunday's setback.
Cherundolo leads solid Hannover back-line
In the German Bundesliga, American Steve Cherundolo was in his usual spot on the right side of the back-line for Hannover 96 which could manage only a 0-0 draw with host Eintracht Frankfurt at Commerzbank Arena.
Hannover's defense was tight, allowing Eintracht only a single good chance on goal in the 78th minute. American striker Sal Zizzo has still not been named to a Hannover match roster.
Hannover (5-3-3) is tied for fifth place with Schalke 04 (4-1-6) with 18 points each, three points below third place.
U.S. defender Hearth Pearce did not dress for Hansa Rostock in its 0-0 home draw with Karlsruhe.
Kamani Hill did not play for Wolfsburg, a 3-1 winner over FC Nürnberg: Willkommen
In the 2Bundesliga, American defender Gregg Berhalter and forward Josh Wolff started for TSV 1860 Munich which easily defeated Kickers Offenbach 3-0.
1860 has had many injuries so far this season and that proved to be an opportunity for American Steve Purdy, a defender and four-year University of California stalwart who found himself dressed and on the bench.
Purdy signed with 1860 in January.
Berhalter went 90 minutes, while Wolff, who spent six weeks on the injury list, is still not completely fit and came off at halftime.
American defender Ian Joy, who had played for St. Pauli in place of injured Marcel Eger, was back on the bench as Eger returned for a 1-1 draw with SV Wehen.
American midfielder Joe Enochs played the first 60 minutes for VfL Osnabrück in a 1-0 loss to TuS Koblenz. American defender Josh Grenier, who has been starting for Koblenz, sat this one out on the bench.
Bradley, Heerenveen have easy time with Venlo
In the Dutch Eredivisie, U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley played a little more than an hour for Heerenveen which easily defeated VVV Venlo 4-0 on the road. Bradley and two others were taken out of the one-sided match to rest ahead of today's key Cup match at powerful Ajax in Amsterdam at the ArenA.
At 4-3-2 with 14 points, Heerenveen is in a four-way tie for seventh place.
American attacker Lee Nguyen again did not make the first squad for PSV Eindhoven which beat Sparta Rotterdam 4-1.
Eindhoven (7-0-2, 23) is two points ahead of Ajax (6-0-3)
Onyewu, Standard struggle to draw
In Belgium, Standard de Liège was held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Le FC Malines. American Oguchi Onyewu was in the center of defense, as usual, for Standard, which had trouble handling the pace of its opponent.
Undefeated Standard (7-0-4, 25 points) still sits at the top of the Jupiler League, now one point clear of second place Club Brugge (7-1-3).
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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