Fulham fans fete Dempsey; Reading says farewell to Hahnemann.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Tuesday, May 19, 2009) -- United States midfielder Clint Dempsey was honored by Fulham's fans, being voted the club's "Monster Player of the Month" for April. The designation falls somewhere between most valuable and most popular.
On Saturday, Dempsey put in another hard 90 minutes for Fulham, which used Diomansy Kamara's 41st-minute strike to defeat host Newcastle United 1-0 in an English Premier League match at St. James' Park.
Newcastle was not helped when left defender Sebastien Bassong was sent off in the 60th minute, four minutes after Dempsey received a yellow card.
With one match left in the season, Dempsey is somewhat improbably tied with striker Andrew Johnson as the Cottagers' top goal scorer at seven goals.
Fulham is in seveth place at 14-12-11 with 53 points.
Hahnemann's long tenure with Reading appears over
In the second-tier English League Championship, the news was not good for American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who was released by Reading Friday after the club failed to win promotion to the Premiership.
"I knew it was coming. . . but it was still hard to take," Hahnemann, who turns 37 on June 15 and is now a free agent told reporters. "But I'm not done playing in England yet."
Hahnemann, who was with Reading since 2001, was told early Friday morning, along with three other veteran players, that their contracts would not be renewed. The moves come as part of a general housecleaning three days after visiting Burnley defeated Reading 2-0, completing a 3-0 aggregate sweep that end the Royals' season in the promotion tournament semifinals.
"Marcus has been a key player for us for a number of years now, and he has been a great ambassador for our club and very popular with our supporters." Royals chairman John Madejski said to the team's web site..
Defender Graeme Murty, forward Leroy Lita and defender Michael Duberry were also released a day after Steve Coppell was fired as manager.
"The players who are leaving will all sorely be missed, but this week has seen the end of an era and it's time for the club to move on," Reading director of football Nick Hammond said to the web site. "Marcus has been a tremendously consistent and reliable goalkeeper for many years, and has without a doubt been one of our most important players in the last decade."
Had Reading won at home over Birmingham City in the season finale, the Royals would have finished second and earned automatic promotion. Instead, Reading fell 2-1 and placed fourth at 21-11-14 with 77 points.
Friedel helps Aston Villa tie Middlesbrough
In the Premier League, American goalkeeper Brad Friedel put in another solid 90 minutes in net for visiting Aston Villa, which overcame an early deficit to salvage a 1-1 draw against relegation-challenged and desperate Middlesbrough at The Riverside Stadium.
In the 14th minute, Friedel was surprised by an acrobatic bicycle kick by Tuncay Sanli and was caught flat-footed. Villa drew level at 1-1 in the 57th minute on a goal by John Carew and then held on to limit Middlebrough, which would need a victory in its final match and some help not to be demoted.
U.S. keeper Tim Howard did not post a clean sheet, but host Everton, behind a pair of goals from Louis Saha, cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory against shorthanded West Ham United at Goodison Park.
West Ham scored in the 24th minute on a hard 30-yard shot from Radoslav Kovac, but the match turned in the 37th when West Ham's James Tomkins was sent off and Saha converted the subsequent penalty kick.
Howard did not have a busy day with only a pair of saves, but in the 13th minute he stopped Diego Tristan, sent in on goal by Kovac after his pass split the defense.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector came on at halftime and played well for West Ham, receiving a yellow card in the 73rd minute.
Whitbread helps Millwall advance in playoffs
American defender Zak Whitbread went the distance for Millwall which ousted Leeds 2-1 on aggregate thanks to a 1-1 road draw Thursday in the third-tier English League One promotion playoff semifinals.
Forward Mike Grella came on in the 90th minute for Leeds.
The Lions move on to the single-match final at Wembley where they will meet Scunthorpe United, 7-6 penalty-kicks winners over the Milton Keynes Dons after a 0-0 tie and a 1-1 aggregate draw. American striker Jemal Johnson was not dressed for the Dons.
Edu helps Glasgow Rangers take first
In Scotland's Premier League, Glasgow Rangers (25-4-8, 83 points) have opened a two-point lead over arch-rival Glasgow Celtic (24-4-9) with two matches to play after a 2-1 home win over Aberdeen at home at Ibrox Saturday.
Celtic could only manage a 0-0 draw with host Hibernian at Easter Road Stadium.
U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu went 90 minutes for Rangers in the strange effort which saw Aberdeen lose Charlie Mulgrew to a red card in the 18th minute, Rangers was reduced to 10 men when Madjid Bougherra was sent off in the 40th minute.
The match was scoreless to the 66th minute when an Aberdeen own goal gave Rangers a lead they didn't relinquished.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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