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Americans Abroad

Reyna, Keller efforts help clubs return to winning form.

By Robert Wagman

(Sunday, November 12, 1999) -- It was a rebound weekend for two Americans -- Kasey Keller with Rayo Vallecano in Spain and Claudio Reyna with Glasgow Rangers in Scotland. Both teams ended losing streaks with much needed home league victories.

In Madrid, Rayo brought its four-game losing streak to an end with a 4-1 victory over Malaga today. Rayo broke out on top with a nice goal from Bolo Perez in the 18th minute. But Malaga drew even seven minutes later on a strong strike from Brazilian Catanha.

From that point on, however, Keller shut the door and Rayo got headed goals from Jean Francois Hernandez, Carlos Llorens and Manuel Canabal.

Rayo, which improbably stood in first place in the Spain's First Division a month ago, had dropped to fifth during the losing streak. The victory allowed the club to step up to fourth place. It is still ahead of powerful Barcelona, who dropped into fifth place by losing to Sevilla 3-2.

Glasgow Rangers also got back on the winning track yesterday, outlasting Kilmarnock 1-0 in a league match. Rangers are still trying to recover from their elimination from the UEFA Cup when they lost a two-goal lead at Borussia Dortmund last week.

The home victory at Ibrox Park was the work of German midfielder Jorg Albertz whose stunning free kick gave Rangers the victory. The kick was a precision play. The German pushed the ball out to Reyna to open an angle, and then got the ball back and curled it brilliantly over the wall and past the Kilmarnock keeper.

Reyna is still nursing a tender leg and calf, and has been tiring noticeably in the late stages of recent matches. He was substituted for in the 90th minute yesterday and Rangers held on through injury time to hold onto the win.

United States striker Joe-Max Moore made his debut for Everton in an entirely forgettable third round F.A. Cup match against third division Exeter City. Everton, with a lineup that cost about $14 million to assemble, was held to a 0-0 draw by what is essentially a semipro team whose entire roster is valued at about $30,000.

It was a comedy of errors for Everton, which had two early goals disallowed for offsides, and saw a half dozen other shots either hit the post or crossbar, or miss by inches.

Moore was inserted at forward in the 75th minute and actually had a couple of chances in the late going. But by that time Exeter was playing an 11-man defense trying to force the draw.

By gaining the tie, Exeter forced a replay on December 21 and will gain a payday of about 200,000 British pounds, one of the largest in club history.

Liverpool skipper Gerard Houllier left American keeper Brad Friedel on the bench and played his normal starting keeper, Dutchman Sander Westerveld, against Huddersfield Town in Liverpool's Third Round F.A. Cup match.

Westerveld had a busy day as he made a half dozen good saves to help preserve the 2-0 Liverpool victory.

Huddersfield is no pushover. It stands at the top of the First Division and likely will be playing in the Premier League next season.

Finally in England, former Columbus Crew star Stern John continued to be the strongest player in the Nottingham Forest line-up, but again was unable to score for the slowly sinking Forest which was held to a 1-1 Cup draw by Oxford.

In the first five minutes of the match, John had two good chances, but was wide on one and stopped by the keeper on the other.

The draw increased pressure on Forest manager David Platt to start winning matches. He is depending a great deal on newly arrived John. But after scoring a goal and setting up another in his first match, John has been tightly marked and while showing some flashes of brilliance, has been kept off the scoreboard.

In Germany, U.S. midfielder Frankie Hedjuk did not play for Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-2 draw with Hamburg, nor did he play midweek when Leverkusen was defeated by Udinese 2-1 in the UEFA Cup third round. Udinese advanced to the round of 16 after drawing 2-2 on aggregate, on the basis of away goals.

Likewise, American midfielder Tony Sanneh did not make an appearance when his Hertha Berlin club defeated SC Freiburg 1-0 yesterday, nor did he appear in Hertha's 1-0 loss to Porto in a Champions League second-round match in Portugal on Thursday.

Hertha now lags behind group leader Porto and Barcelona, and will have to defeat both at home if it is to make it through to the quarterfinals.

Among other Americans in Europe, midfielder John O'Brien's Ajax did not play as they get ready for a major league showdown on Wednesday with second-place PSV. In France, FC Metz and David Regis also had the weekend off.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at SoccerWag1@aol.com.

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