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U.S. under-20s Bernardo, Nazzani refine their trade in Italy.

Adu gets first start for Monaco in Cup loss to PSG.

With Friedel in net, Aston Villa couples UEFA Cup advancement with EPL success.

Howard, Onyewu face off: Standard, Everton draw in UEFA Cup.

U.S. players have seen their numbers dwindle in English Premier League.

Beasley helps Rangers get off to good start.

Hahnemann's 10 saves stymie Man United, earn Reading 0-0 draw.

Adu negotiates with Benfica after MLS, Portugese power, agree to $2-million transfer fee.

Dalby North End romance ends with work permit denial.

Beasley reported to be near deal with Glasgow Rangers.

Bernardo's Italian training could benefit U.S. future.

Friedel, Rovers left to rue what should have been.

Onyewu is hopeful, but unsure of his Newcastle future.

Hahnemann is ranked No. 1 among Premier League goalkeepers.

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Americans Abroad

Dempsey finds net twice, late header for Fulham stuns Chelsea in 2-2 draw.

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

(Sunday, December 28, 2008) -- This Boxing Day weekend might prove to be a milestone in the English Premier League career of United States midfielder Clint Dempsey.

In a season that looked like it could have been his last with Fulham, Dempsey not only has made it back into the starting side, but he scored three goals in Fulham's last three matches, including two today, one an equalizing header in the 89th minute, to propel the Cottagers to a 2-2 home draw with heavily-favored Chelsea at Craven Cottage.

Things have truly come full circle for Dempsey. He started the season in a midfield crowded with new acquisitions for manager Roy Hodgson. He managed a pair of short, late appearances early in the season, but did not start until the eighth match when he replaced suspended Andy Johnson.

While in the U.S. for World Cup qualifiers in October, he told SoccerTimes that he was fully fit and "all I can do is work as hard as I can in training to show the manager that I belong on the starting side."

Dempsey did become the first player off the bench for Hodgson in the next several Fulham matches, but did not crack the starting lineup until a 0-0 draw November 22 match against Liverpool. He has started all six matches since, five as the right midfielder and one on the front line.

Today, Dempsey's pair of goals offset two by Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard. Dempsey opened the scoring in the 10th minute when he controlled Simon Davies' curling free kick on his chest and flicked it past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Lampard put Chelsea ahead 2-1 with strikes in the 50th and 72nd minutes, but Dempsey salvaged the draw with his goal in the 89th minute.

Again it was a set piece, a corner kick by midfielder Simon Davies. Dempsey rose above a pair of defenders to meet the corner and directed his header inside the far post. He was immediately mobbed by his teammates and ended up with a yellow card for excessive celebration.

Dempsey, who also had a goal in a 3-0 decision over Middlesbrough two weeks ago, is tied for the Fulham scoring lead with four despite starting only eight of 19 outings.

A year ago, Fulham was on the verge of relegation. Now, the Cottagers are in ninth place at 6-5-8 with 26 points. Chelsea is 12-2-6 with 42 points, in second place, trailing only Liverpool (13-1-6, 45 points).

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent. Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes publisher and managing editor.

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