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Americans Abroad

Brief rendezvous for Sanneh, Hejduk over weekend in Bundesliga.

(Monday, September 20, 1999) -- For six minutes this weekend, two Americans faced off in the Bundesliga. Tony Sanneh was inserted at halftime for Hertha Berlin and Frankie Hedjuk six minutes from time for Bayer Leverkusen as the two teams played to a tense 0-0 draw.

Sanneh, who has not seen much action this season, came on after the break in place of German midfielder Kai Michalke. Hedjuk, who played the entire match at right back for Leverkusen in their midweek Champions League test against Italian power Lazio, this time finished up the match against Hertha coming on in the 84th minute for midfielder Oliver Neuville.

In Spain, Kasey Keller and his Rayo Vallecano continued their unblemished run, winning their fourth straight league match, 1-0 over Celta Vigo. This was Keller's second clean sheet of the young season which finds newly promoted Rayo sitting improbably alone at the top of the league standings, three points ahead of second place Barcelona and Alaves. This is the first time in the club's 75-year history it has stood alone at the top.

Keller has been terrific in goal. The Spanish newspaper Diario called his performance against Centa ". . . strong and perfect for the entire 95 minutes."

In the 20th minute, Keller parried a blast from Russian striker Alexander Mostovoi, ". . . with authority and ease," according to Diario. He then yelled at his defenders for allowing Mostovio free at the top of the box. This showed, said Diario, "the Vallecas (where Rayo plays in Madrid) goal now officially belongs to the American international."

In the Netherlands, midweek, the oft injured John O'Brien made his debut with Dutch side Ajax in their easy 6-1 UEFA Cup home opening round match against Slovakian side FC Dukla Banska Bystrica. O'Brien came on in the 77th minute in place of midfielder Aron Winter. After the match, O'Brien told reporters, "It was great to finally get onto the pitch."

O'Brien did not play in Ajax's disappointing 1-1 draw with RKC Waalwijk on Sunday. But he may get another chance soon because Ajax winger Tijjani Babangida, on as a substitute, was carried off with a concussion.

Another player recovering from injuries is David Regis. Last week he made his debut in the final moments for FC Metz. This week he played all 90 as Metz surprised powerful Monaco by holding them to a 2-2 draw, a match played in a driving rain.

Monaco took a 2-0 lead, but could not hold it as Metz came back with two late goals for the draw.

Claudia Reyna's Glasgow Rangers had the weekend off to prepare for their next Champions League match, a critical home encounter on tomorrow with German power Bayern Munich. Originally Rangers were to play traditional rivals Celtic on Sunday, but the match was rescheduled when Rangers qualified for Champions League play.

Two Americans keepers in England were on their respective benches again on Saturday. Brad Friedel continues to back up Dutch keeper Sander Westerveld as Liverpool drew 2-2 on the road with Leicester City. Marcus Hahnemann was again on the bench as Fulham defeated Queens Park Rangers only 1-0 despite the fact that QPR had seven players down with the flu and played a man short most of the match.

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