Mönchengladbach, Bradley experience improved play in Bundesliga.
Dempsey regains scoring touch, helps Fulham drop Liverpool.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Thursday, November 5, 2009) -- After going 14 matches, stretching into last season, without scoring a goal, United States striker Clint Dempsey found net in two straight outings for Fulham in the English Premier League.
On Saturday, Fulham surprised Liverpool 3-1 with Dempsey playing a key role. The two sides had traded goals when Fulham took a 2-1 lead in the 73rd minute. A minute later, Dempsey controlled and was clearing a ball on the left side when he was trundled down by Swiss defender Philipp Degen, who was ejected with a straight red.
Another three minutes later, Liverpool was reduced to nine men when Jamie Carragher took down Bobby Zamora, who also was shown red and sent off.
In the 87th minute, Dempsey put the match out of reach. Zamora fed the ball to Erik Nevland, who exchanged passes with Dempsey at the top of the box. Dempsey laid the ball off to Nevland and ran for goal, beating two defenders to the return pass. He easily slotted his shot home from close range to make it 3-1.
On the previous Sunday, Dempsey broke out of his scoring drought when he scored in the 68th minute to allow visiting Fulham to come away with a hard-earned 2-2 draw with Manchester City.
Dempsey lunged between defenders to head home Jonathan Greening's 68th-minute free-kick past goalkeeper Shay Given and off a goal-post into the net. Two minutes later, tempers flared when Dempsey was takendown on the edge of the City box, but referee Kevin Friend waved play on.
American striker Eddie Johnson did not play for Fulham in either match, but dressed for the Manchester City contest.
U.S. forward Jozy Altidore went in and then out of Hull City's endangered manager Phil Brown's doghouse over the past week. First, Altidore arrived late at KC Stadium for Hull's match with Portsmouth and Brown disciplined him by sending him to the stands to watch a 0-0 draw. To make matters worse, when Altidore Twittered an apology, Brown announced Altidore would be fined for disclosing an internal club matter.
On Saturday, however, Brown relented and inserted Altidore in the 59th minute of what became a 2-0 road loss at Burnley. Altidore received a yellow in the 65th minute, but could not help Hull's moribund offense.
On Saturday, American keeper Brad Friedel reached a seeming impossible plateau, his 200th consecutive Premier League start in which his Aston Villa drew 1-1 with Everton, employer of U.S. keeper Tim Howard.
It was not a busy day for Friedel with Villa controlling much of the action. Friedel was credited with a single save, but it came off a hard shot from Marouane Fellaini.
Both teams had players sent off in the final three minutes.
Howard had a busier time with three saves, but could only parry away a shot by Gabriel Agbonlahor, which allowed John Carew to put in the rebound in the first minute of the second half.
A week earlier, Friedel was sharp a 1-1 draw with host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium. Neither side had many quality chances and Wolves only managed a goal from a Sylvan Ebanks-Blake minute penalty kick in the 83rd minute after Steve Sidwell took down Michael Kightly.
American keeper Marcus Hahnemann, as usual, was on the bench as Wolves' backup keeper.
Villa fared well in League Cup action with its other U.S. keeper, Brad Guzan, looking sharp, making eight saves against Sunderland, including a match-saving stop on Kenwyne Jones' 83rd-minute penalty kick in a 0-0 draw. In the tiebreaker, Guzan stopped three Sunderland penalty kicks, allowing Villa to prevail 3-1.
"He gave a fantastic performance and we are naturally delighted to have got through," Villa manager Martin O'Neill said. "He has been doing it for some time, I think he is a great keeper in the making. He has got everything and he is as brave as they come. He was immense tonight, he was immense in preseason and that performance will elevate his confidence to new heights. You got the feeling that it would have to have been something special to beat him tonight."
It has not been a good stretch for Howard, including tonight's 2-0 loss to Benfica of Portugal in the Europa League. On October 25, he did not have the best of days with Everton dropping a road contest to Bolton Wanderers 3-2.
After falling behind by a pair of goals, Everton managed to draw level, but in the 86th minute, Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen sent a long goal kick all the way into the Everton box. There, Kevin Davies managed to head it down to Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic, who drilled it past Howard to notch his first goal in English soccer and Bolton's first league victory at home this season.
Two days later, Everton was ousted from the Carling Cup in a 2-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur. Howard had seven saves in a very busy night, giving up a goal from in front of his net on a poorly defended corner kick and later a rebound of a penalty kick he initially saved.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector has reclaimed a place in West Ham United's starting 11, replacing Julien Faubert at right back. On Saturday, he went the distance in a 2-2 draw with Sunderland. A week before, he also played 90 minutes of a pleasantly, surprising 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
Watford confirmed that its captain, U.S. defender Jay DeMerit, will likely miss two months after successful surgery to have the infected cornea in his left eye replaced in an operation at London's renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital. The new cornea must fully heal into place before DeMerit can return to training and then he will likely have to play wearing safety goggles for some time.
In the second-tier English League Championship, the flu hit Sheffield Wednesday with the result that Frank Simek found himself back in the starting 11 Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bristol City. He played well and drew the praise of manager Brian Laws. A week earlier, he was not dressed for Wednesday's 4-1 loss at Watford.
In third-tier League One action, American striker Jemal Johnson was not dressed for MK Dons' 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers. In the prior game, he played the first 45 minutes in a 3-1 loss at Southampton.
American forward Mike Grella has not seen action for league-leading Leeds United in its last two matches. Saturday, he was on the bench, but did not play in Leeds' 4-0 triumph over Yeovil Town. A week earler, he did not dress for a 2-1 loss at Millwall.
American defender Eric Lichaj was loaned by Aston Villa to Lincoln City of the fourth-division League Two Lincoln City.
Lichaj, from Chicago, played on U.S. youth national teams before signing with Villa two years ago. Last season, he was a regular on Villa's championship reserve team.
He is well-thought of by Villa and the one-month loan is intended to give him first-team experience. At the end of the month, the loan might be continued or he might be loaned to a higher-division team if he will get playing time.
On Saturday, Lichaj went 90 minutes at right back in Lincoln's 0-0 draw with Torquay.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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