(Thursday, February 28, 2008) -- United States striker Eddie Johnson looks to get his first English Premier League start Saturday when Fulham hosts Manchester United.
In Johnson's Premier League debut, Fulhan reached a low point in an already disastrous year, losing 1-0 at home to West Ham United on a late goal, one of the most controversial of the league season.
The match also saw American forward Brian McBride make his first 2007-08 start for Fulham. After undergoing surgery for a dislocated kneecap, suffered in the season opener in mid-August, McBride went 90 minutes, though he was held in check.
Johnson entered in the 76th minute, replacing fellow American Clint Dempsey. Dempsey had the Cottagers' best chance on the day, but he was not able to beat goalkeeper Robert Green with a hard shot.
The match looked to be headed for a scoreless conclusion when Peruvian international Nolberto Solano charged Fulham goalkeeper Antti Niemi as he was making an easy save in the 87th minute. Solano kicked the ball out of Niemi's hands, crashed into the keeper, his studs first, and the ball seemed to go into the goal off Solano's arm. Despite the apparent fouls, the goal was allowed.
"I've seen it on the television," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said afterward. "I can say nothing else. It was a clear foul and the goal should have been disallowed."
U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra was again on the bench, having lost his starting role to newly-arrived and much taller Norwegian international Brede Hangeland.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector came on for West Ham in the 90th minute. West Ham hosts Chelsea Saturday.
Fulham is 3-14-10 with 19 points, mired in 19th place and four points from reaching 17th place and escaping the relegation zone. West Ham (11-8-7, 40 points) is in 10th place.
Also in the drop zone is fading Reading, sitting in 18th place after losing 2-1 Sunday to red-hot Aston Villa at home the Madejski Stadium.
U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann, already called upon this season to make more saves than any other keeper in the Premiership, made 11 more, including a stopping Gareth Barry's penalty kick in the 33rd minute. Hahnemann could not prevent Ashley Young from scoring on a breakaway just before intermission or get to a well-placed strike from Marlon Harewood in the 83rd minute.
Reading's American midfielder Bobby Convey was back in England after receiving treatment on his rebuilt knee in Houston, but he did not dress. The Royals hope to end an eight-match losing streak with a visit to Middlesbrough Saturday.
Everton hopes to stretch its unbeaten streak (5-0-2) to eight Sunday when it hosts Portsmouth. On Monday, U.S. keeper Tim Howard posted the clean sheet by turning away 12 shots in a 2-0 decision at Manchester City.
Nigerian striker Ayegbeni Yakubu put Everton ahead in the 30th minute and Joleon Lescott made it 2-0 eight minutes later. In its futility, City outshot the Toffees 20-13, 12-8 on frame.
On Thursday, Everton cruised into the last 16 of the UEFA Cup by defeating SK Brann of Norway 6-1 for an 8-1 aggregate triumph with Yakubu scoring three. Howard set the tone for the match early with a terrific leg save at a post and the Toffees then completely outclassed the visitors the rest of the way. Everton's next opponent is Fiorentina of Italy
In the EPL, Everton is 15-7-5 with 50 points, standing fourth, three points ahead of Liverpool (12-3-11), which has a game in hand, and Aston Villa (13-6-8) for the final berth in the next European Champions League qualification round.
On Sunday, American Brad Friedel was strong in goal for Blackburn Rovers, making 11 saves in a 4-1 win over visiting Bolton Wanderers. Blackburn profited from a pair of penalty kicks from South African Benni McCarthy and Friedel was only beaten by Kevin Cyril Davies in the 50th minute.
Blackburn (11-7-9, 42 points) is in ninth place, two points behind Portsmouth (12-7-8) and Manchester City (12-7-8), and next visits Newcastle United Saturday
U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis was dressed, but did not play for Derby County (1-20-6, 9), which sank further into last place by losing 2-0 to Wigan. Derby hosts Sunderland Saturday.
Cherondolo commits own goal in Hannover loss
In the German Bundesliga, U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo was the victim of an unfortunate own goal for Hannover 96, which dropped a 2-1 decision Friday at lowly Bochum.
In the 30th minute of a scoreless match, Bochum's Stanislav Sestak triggered a hard shot that Hannover keeper Robert Enke could only manage to parry away. The ball came off his hands directly into Cherundolo's knee and ricocheted into the goal.
After Hannover's Mike Hanke tied the matchin the 47th minute, Bochum's Benjamin Auer produced the winner in the 52nd minute.
Five days earlier, Cherundolo also went the distance is a 3-0 setback to visiting Bayern Munich.
Hannover (8-8-5, 29), which is winless in its last five outings (0-3-2), is in 10th place in the tightly bunched center of the standings where seven points separate sixth and 13th place. Hannover hosts FC Nürnberg Saturday
In the 2Bundesliga, U.S. striker Josh Wolff entered 1860 Munich's 0-0 draw with FC Köln in the 77th minute, but could not help struggling 1860 generate any late attack. American defender Gregg Berhalter sat out the match for Munich following his red card received a week earlier against Hoffenheim.
Though 1860 (8-5-8, 32) is tied for seventh place, it is within four points of a promotion spot.
Adu makes relief appearances
In Portgual Sunday, American Freddy Adu played the final seven minutes of Benfica's 1-1 home draw with Braga.
A week earlier, Adu came on in the 72nd minute of a 2-0 road victory over Naval 1ş Maio, but did not make it to the end, playing 18 minutes before coming out with a bruised back, suffered in a collision. His replacement, László Sepsi, assisted on Benfica's second goal in stoppage time.
Adu played well in his appearance against Maio, making several good passes and taking on defenders.
Benfica (10-2-8, 38) is in second place and visits Sporting Lisbon Sunday.
In Belgium's Jupiler League, U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu played 90 minutes as his side used no substitutes in a 0-0 draw with La Gantoise. A week earlier, Onyewu was also in the center of defense for visiting Standard, which defeated league-leading Club Brugge 2-1 for a share of first place.
By defeating KSC Lokeren 1-0 on the road Sunday, Brugge (15-2-6, 51) was back in the top spot, two points ahead of Standard (13-0-10).
In the Dutch Eredivisie, U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley went the full 90 in Heerenveen's 3-2 home loss to NEC Nijmegen. Heerenveen (13-7-6, 45) is in sixth place, two points below a potential berth in the next Champions League qualifying round.
Heerenveen went ahead by a pair of goals, but lost Brian Vandenbussche in the 23rd minute to a red card and surrendered three second-half goals with the winner for NEC coming in stoppage time. Heerenveen visits Twente Enschede Saturday.