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Americans Abroad

Surprise starter Keller has easy time in Rayo’s 2-0 upset of Atletico.

(Sunday, August 22, 1999) -- Rayo Vallecano home fans took to the streets of the Madrid suburb after a huge opening day match against traditional Spanish First Division rival Atletico Madrid 2-0.

American Kasey Keller, a surprise starter who had spent most of the week sick from a stomach ailment, had a relatively easy time. He was only called upon to make one difficult save, when he parried a hard shot from close-in from Carlos Gamarra about midway through the second half.

Rayo actually dominated play from the start, with Atletico disorganized in attack. After several narrow misses, Rayo's Luis Cembranos's corner found the head of Jean Francois Hernandez at the far post to put Rayo ahead in the 41st minute lead.

It was Rayo who came out for the second half the aggressor, and five minutes into the half, Jordi Ferron put in a rebound to make it 2-0.

In Germany, Sunday, it might have been a coincidence, but only seconds after United States midfielder Frankie Hedjuk entered a tense 0-0 struggle for Bayer Leverkusen against Bundesliga power Bayern Munich, Leverkusen scored two goals for a impressive early-season victory. The match was played in front of a sellout crowd of 22,500 at Leverkusen's Bay-Arena stadium.

Hedjuk came on in the 77th minute for Brazilian Ze Roberto. A minute later, Ulf Kirsten found the net, after a pass from Brazilian Emerson, to break the scoreless draw. Then in the 85th minute, Oliver Neuville made it 2-0 and put the match out of reach.

Bayern played without Major League Soccer-bound Lothar Matthaeus in defense, and its two normal starting forwards Carsten Jancker and Giovane Elber, all on the bench because of question marks about their fitness.

It appears that Hedjuk, for the time being, will be used as a reserve in Bayer's crowded midfield. This is the second match in a row he has come on late to try to spark Leverkusen with his speed.

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