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Americans Abroad

Keller is strong in Rayo Vallecano win.

(Sunday, September 12, 1999) -- With the exception of Kasey Keller in Spain, it was a relatively uneventful weekend for Americans playing in Europe.

Keller's Rayo Vallecano continues its implausible run in the Spanish First Division. Today it made it three wins out of three as it defeated visiting Real Sociedad 2-1 on an injury-time goal.

Keller almost had a clean sheet, making three fine saves in the first half. But he finally gave up a 56th minute goal to Inigo Idiakez. Rayo played a man up for the final 20 minutes as Real's Jose Felix Guerrero was sent off for his second yellow card. Rayo applied tremendous pressure near the end that finally paid off about two minutes into extra time when striker Michel blasted a spectacular left-footed volley into the top corner.

In Scotland, Claudio Reyna played the entire match as Rangers easily defeated Aberdeen 3-0. The match against one of the lesser teams in the Scottish league served as a warm-up for Rangers Champions League opener midweek when they face Spanish side Valencia on the road.

A victory in Spain would give them a major boost in group play. But they may have to do it without star striker Rod Wallace who is still recovering from injury.

Tony Sanneh continues to struggle in Berlin. His Hertha team was demolished by Hamburg 5-1 in a match that was not as close as the score would indicate. Hertha was without several normal starters and used all three substitutes, but Sanneh remained on the bench, reportedly a combination of not being totally fit and still in coach Jürgen Röber's doghouse.

Hertha also faces its opening Champions League test midweek against Turkish club Galatasaray in Istanbul. If it cannot rebound from the embarrassing loss in Hamburg, Hertha may find itself out of group contention quickly.

In another Bundesliga match, Frankie Hedjuk did not appear for Bayer Leverkusen in its 3-2 win over FC Schalke 04. In the last several matches, midfielder Hedjuk has been used as a late substitute. But with Bayer holding onto a 3-1 lead, mostly defensive substitutes were used against Schalke.

Leverkusen travels to Italy on Wednesday to play Lazio in its opening Champions league Group match.

In the German second division, neither Steve Cherundolo of Hannover, nor David Wagner at Waldhof Mannheim played this weekend. Cherundolo had missed training this week as he played for Bruce Arena in Jamaica.

In England, Brad Friedel was again on the bench as Manchester United, a man down for the final 18 minutes when Andy Cole was sent off, defeated his Liverpool team 3-2.

In the English First Division, Fulham continues its undefeated season with an easy 2-0 win over Port Vale. As he has since leaving the Colorado Rapids, goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann continues as a well paid back-up to starting keeper Maik Taylor, a Northern Ireland international. Hahnemann is yet to make his Fulham debut.

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