Villa beats Everton; Friedel bests Howard in meeting of American keepers.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Thursday, September 2, 2010) -- A week earlier, Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard faced his United States teammate Marcus Hahnemann in a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton in the English Premier League. On Saturday, he was across the field again from an American keeper and it was Brad Friedel who came out on top, making six saves en route to a clean sheet in Aston Villa's 1-0 victory over Everton.
Howard, who ended up with four saves, was victimized by a goal by Luke Young in the ninth minute.
It was quite a turnaround for Villa, which had given up nine goals in its last two league matches, including six in a mauling at the hands of Newcastle United in the prior week.
Friedel was sharp against Everton, stopping a rocket from Louis Saha on the hour and later a header from Jack Rodwell. He was beaten in the 18th minute by Steven Pienaar, but the shot crashed off the crossbar.
Howard, meanwhile, made a fine double save, first on John Carew's hard shot and then the follow-up attempt from Ashley Young.
American defender Eric Lichaj, who dressed but did not play for Villa, received good news this week when he was informed he would be part of the new, reduced 25-man Premier League roster. That makes three Americans on Villa, along with backup keeper Brad Guzan.
On August 26, for the second year in a row, Rapid Vienna knocked Villa out of the Europa League qualifying phase, winning 3-2 on the road and 4-3 on aggregate after the two sides had tied 1-1 last week in Vienna, Austria.
Guzan was in goal and Villa took an early lead, only to see the visitors draw level at 1-1 in the 55th minute.
Things got busy over the final 20 minutes. In the 72nd, Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov's penalty kick was saved by Rapid keeper Raimund Hedl, but five minutes later, Villa took the lead on a goal from Emile Heskey.
In the 78th minute Rapid tied the match at 2-2 when Guzan could not stop a header from Mario Sonnleitner that went through the keeper's hands. Three minutes later, Vienna notched the winner when Guzan could not get to a low shot from Rene Gartler.
Hahnemann made four saves Saturday in a highly physical 1-1 draw with Newcastle that saw Wolves end up with seven players booked to Newcastle's five. Hahnemann did very well stopping a powerful drive from Kevin Nolan after he pounced on a dangerous cross from Wayne Routledge. He was beaten by a powerful header from Andrew Carroll in the 62nd minute.
U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden again excelled for Bolton Wanderers who drew 2-2 with Birmingham City despite playing down a man after goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was sent off for slapping Roger Johnson in the face after the two collided in the 36th minute.
With Birmingham up by two goals, Holden came close on a free kick, forcing Birmingham keeper Ben Foster into a full-stretch save to palm the ball over the crossbar. A Kevin Davies penalty kick in the 71st minute and a Robbie Blake tally in the 81st minute drew Bolton even.
Holden came out in the 78th minute.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector went the distance for West Ham United, which fell 3-0 to Manchester United in a visit to Old Trafford Stadium.
Man. U. dispatched West Ham in a very businesslike manner, controlling play without seeming to expend much energy. The West Ham offense was completely absent while the defense did well to limit Manchester to three goals.
Spector fouled Ryan Giggs in the penalty area in the 33rd minute, leading to Wayne Rooney's penalty-kick conversion.
West Ham and Stoke City have lost all three outings to sit at the bottom of the standings and puts West Ham manager Avram Grant in jeopardy.
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey again began a match for Fulham on the bench with $6-million signee Moussa Dembele getting the start as Fulham came from behind to draw with Blackpool 2-2 in the first match in Blackpool's small, but rebuilt Bloomfield Road stadium.
Dempsey came on in the 59th minute for striker Bobby Zamora who had taken a hard hit.
Eddie Johnson did not dress for Fulham, but surprisingly was named to Fulham's 25-man roster.
On August 25, Dembele got his first start for Fulham which easily defeated fourth-tier Port Vale of League Two 6-0 at home at Craven Cottage in the second round of the Carling Cup. Dempsey replaced Dembele at halftime, scoring his first goal of the season in the 70th minute on a strike from distance.
In the second-tier English League Championship, American striker Conor Doyle again started for Derby County and played 57 minutes in a 2-2 draw Saturday with Queens Park Rangers.
American forward Mike Grella did not dress for Leeds United in its 1-0 win Saturday over Watford.
American defender Zak Whitbread has a calf strain and did not dress for Norwich City in a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
In the third-division League One, American defender Frank Simek went the distance for Carlisle United in a 1-1 draw Sunday with Colchester United.
American defender Anton Peterlin played the final 14 minutes for Plymouth Argyle which lost 3-0 to Peterborough United on Saturday.
American striker Jemal Johnson, whose efforts to move to a higher division have not borne fruit, has re-signed with Milton Keynes Dons and was dressed, but did not play in a 2-1 triumph Saturday over Swindon Town.
In Scotland, U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu was rested and came off the bench for the final seven minutes of Glasgow Rangers' 2-1 decision Saturday over St. Johnstone.
American Dominic Cervi who had been the backup keeper, did not dress for Glasgow Celtic's 1-0 victory Sunday over Motherwell.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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