Lichaj returns to score one, assist another, but Aston Villa loses to Chelsea.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Monday, April 2, 2012) -- When Aston Villa's regular fullback Alan Hutton went down last week, it gave United States defender Eric Lichaj, himself returning from injury, a chance to get back into Villa's starting English Premier League side.
Lichaj made the most of his opportunity, scoring a goal and getting an assist, but host Villa still fell 4-2 to surging Chelsea on Saturday.
Making his first start for Villa since December 2010, Lichaj almost single-handedly rescued Villa after it went down by a pair of goals. In the 77th minute, he let loose a long throw-in directly to the head of James Collins, who narrowed the Chelsea advantage to 2-1.
Two minutes later, Lichaj pulled Villa level with a sliding conversion of a long cross for his forst Premier League goal.
Unfortunately for Villa, Chelsea needed only three minutes to retake the lead and iced the triumph in stoppage time.
Otherwise, Villa announced it is suspending all contract talks with current players and their agents until after the season in order to concentrate the task at hand - avoiding relegation. With eight matches remaining, Villa is in 15th place at 7-11-12 with 33 points, three positions an five points ahead of the drop zone, though it holds a game in hand on the four bottom teams in the standings.
American goalkeeker Brad Guzan is one of those players whose contract is up this season and had had started talks about a new contract
Three Americans started their weeks on Thursday with important quarterfinal, first-leg matches in the Europa League quarterfinals.
U.S. striker Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands were the most successful with a 2-1 home victory over Valencia of Spain.
Altidore started and played 76 minutes. The return leg will take place in Spain on Thursday.
Altidore also scored his 15th goal in all competitions in visiting Alkmaar's 2-2 draw yesterday with Vitesse Arnhem in the Dutch Eredivisie. He headed home a left-side cross in the first half in the 32nd minute.
AZ dropped out of first place at 17-5-6 with 57 points, one behind Ajax (17-4-7).
German-American midfielder Jermaine Jones went the distance for German host Schalke 04, which fell 4-2 to a clearly superior Atletico Bilbao of Spain.
The match was tight until Bilbao scored three unanswered goals in the latter part of the second half. With a cushion of two road goals, Bilbao will be the heavy favorite to advance the second leg.
Yesterday, Jones played 90 minutes and received his usual yellow card in a 1-1 draw with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga.
German-American defender-midfielder Fabian Johnson went the distance for Hoffenheim. German-American defender-midfielder Danny Williams played the final ten minutes, while American striker Joe Gyau did not dress.
Underdog Hannover 96 of Germany will head to Spain in a deep hole after conceding a goal in the 90th minute in a 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid level.
U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo went the distance for Hannover. On Sunday, he played 90 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga.
In the English Premier League, U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey went the distance and scored his 19th goal of the season (all competitions) for Fulham, which defeated visiting Norwich City 2-1 at Craven Cottage.
Dempsey's goal came in the second minute after Bryan Ruiz's hard shot required a diving save from keeper John Ruddy. The rebound was pushed directly into Dempsey path for the easy conversion.
American defender Zak Whitbread played the first half for Norwich.
U.S. keeper Tim Howard kept a clean sheet with two saves in Everton's 2-0 victory Saturday over West Bromwich Albion.
American keeper Brad Friedel only made a single save Sunday for Tottenham Hotspur in a 3-1 decision over Swansea City 3-1.
U.S. defender Tim Ream has solidified his hold on a place in the first team. He went 90 minutes for Bolton Wanderers in a 3-2 win over vs. Wolverhampton.
Seventeen-year-old defender Adam Henley dressed, but did not play for Blackburn Rovers in tonight's 2-0 setback to Manchester United.
No American played in the second-division English League Championship last weekend.
Striker Robbie Findley of Nottingham Forest is sidelined with a concussion. U.S. defender Jonathan Spector has an ailing thigh wand was unavailable to for Birmingham City. Irish-American forward Conor Doyle was unavailable to Derby County because of a bad hamstring.
Midfielder Robbie Rogers did not dress for Leeds United, while defender Daniel Potts did not dress for West Ham United.
In the third-tier League One, as usual Frank Simek went the distance for Carlisle United in a 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town.
American striker Mike Grella did not dress for Bury and midfielder Anton Peterlin did not dress for Walsall.
In Scotland, U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu played 90 minutes Saturday for Glasgow Rangers in their 2-1 Premier League victory over Motherwell.
U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra sat out a one-match, red-card suspension for Rangers, while midfielder Alejandro Bedoya dressed, but did not play.
In the German Bundesliga, German-American Timmy Chandler went 90 minutes in the midfield and was issued a yellow card for 1. FC Nürnberg in a 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Saturday.
German-American defender-midfielder Alfredo Morales dressed, but did not play for Hertha Berlin in its 4-1 loss to 1. VfL Wolfsburg.
American David Yelldel was the backup keeper for Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-0 loss to SC Freiburg.
German-American striker Terrence Boyd remains with Borussia Dortmund's reserves.
American forward Andrew Wooten did not dress for last-place 1. FC Kaiserslautern in a 1-0 loss to Hamburger SV.
No Americans played in the the second-tier 2 Bundesliga last weekend.
American forward Matt Taylor dressed, but did not play for SC Paderborn 07 in its 0-0 draw with Eintracht Braunschweig on Friday.
American striker Bobby Wood did not dress for 1860 Munich, while goalkeeper Luis Robles did not dress for Karlsruher SC.
In Italy, U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley went the distance yesterday for Chievo Verona in its 2-1 win over Fiorentina.
In France, American striker Charlie Davies did not dress for Sochaux in its 2-1 triumph over Brest on Saturday.
In Belgium, U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan played 86 minutes for Anderlecht in a 1-1 draw yesterday with Kortrijk in their opener of the Pro League round-robin, six-team playoffs.
American midfielder Mix Diskerud did not dress for Gent in its 3-0 whitewash of Standard de Liège in the Pro League playoffs.
In Norway, U.S. midfielder Ricardo Clark went the distance and received a yellow card for Stabæk IF in a 5-1 loss Sunday to Fredrikstad.
American defender Sean Cunningham also went the distance for Stabæk.
American defender Josh Gatt played 90 minutes for Molde FK in a 2-0 loss to Haugesund.
American keeper Steve Clark played 90 minutes for Honefoss BK in a scoreless draw with Sogndal.
In Denmark, American defender Clarence Goodson went the distance for Brøndby IF, which edged Odense 1-0 yesterday.
American forward Conor O'Brien went 86 minutes tonight for SønderjyskE in a 3-1 decision over AGF Aarhus.
American striker Chris Rolfe played 20 minutes off the bench, but received a red card in stoppage time for Aalborg BK, a 1-0 loser to Horsens on Saturday.
American defender Brad Rusin played the final 22 minutes Sunday and received a yellow card for HB Køge in its 2-0 loss to FC Nordsjælland.
American defender Michael Parkhurst did not dress in Nordsjælland
In Mexico, U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley went 88 minutes and assisted the goal for Puebla in a 1-0 victory Saturday over Queretaro.
American defender Edgar Castillo went the distance and received a yellow card Friday for Club Tijuana in its 1-0 loss to Pachuca.
Mexican-Salvadoran-American midfielder Joe Corona played the final 30 minutes for Tijuana, while American defender Greg Garza dressed, but did not play for Tijuana.
American José Torres played 90 minutes for Pachuca.
American defender-midfielder Michael Orozco Fiscal went 90 minutes for San Luis in a 3-1 loss to Cruz Azul.
American striker Herculez Gomez did not dress for Santos Laguna, midfielder Sonny Guadarrama did not dress for Atlante, defender Jonathan Bornstein did not dress for Tigres and forward Adrian Ruelas did not dress for Jaguares de Chiapas.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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