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Americans Abroad

Reyna excels in one match, is sent off the next; Friedel saves Blackburn.

By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
Willy Calderon (in Bristol, England)
Christopher Courtney (in Wuerzburg, Germany)
and Mark Flannery (in Montpellier, France)

(Tuesday, December 5, 2000) -- Few Americans saw much action in Europe last week.

On Thursday, United States midfielder Claudio Reyna played a strong 90 minutes for Glasgow Rangers who received a late goal to defeat German Bundesliga power Kaiserslautern 1-0 in their UEFA Cup third-round first leg at home.

Jorg Albertz scored against his German countrymen in the 86th minute to give Rangers a critical lead in the aggregate goal series which concludes this week in Germany.

Reyna, as usual, played on the right side of midfield, adding to Rangers three-man defense, pushing the ball forward whenever he could, and, at times, especially in the first half, making runs into the offensive third. Rangers failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities in the first 45 minutes, partly because Kaiserslautern goalkeeper Georg Koch was superb.

The match swung toward the home side after French referee Gilles Veissiere sent Kaiserslautern’s Jorgen Pettersson off for a second yellow card in the second half.

On Sunday, Reyna became one of two Rangers sent off, leaving goalkeeper Stefan Klos to save the day for nine-player side in a 1-0 defeat of Hearts.

Rangers took a 1-0 lead after 12 minutes. When Hearts came aggressively back, Rangers began panicking and fouling. First Bert Konterman, Jorge Albertz and Barry Ferguson were cautioned, then Reyna fouled Grant Murray and was carded. Hearts continued to press, and in the 65th minute, Reyna stuck out his arm to impede Andy Kirk, and was shown the way to the dressing room with his second yellow card.

Twelve minutes later, Numan was shown a yellow for a tackle on Robbie Neilson, then was sent off with a second caution for dissent.

Rangers are 13 points behind league-leading Celtic with two matches in hand.

In England, U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel put in a strong performance for Blackburn in a 1-1 draw with Tranmere. The match was a back-and-forth affair with Blackburn holding the upper hand through much of the second half.

Friedel saved the day deep in injury time when Tranmere player-coach Sean Flynn launched a wicked shot that seemed sure to find net until Friedel pushed it away with a diving save.

U.S. striker Joe-Max Moore came on in the 70th minute for Everton which saw its three-match winning streak ended at Sunderland 2-0.

In the Netherlands, this is beginning to look like a lost season American midfielder John O’Brien. The achilles heel injury he suffered in the Summer Olympics has proven slow to heal and considerably more serious than first thought. Despite intensive rehabilitation, O’Brien is only now beginning to run and it will still be some time before he can return to full training. It will be even longer before he is match fit and it is an open question whether he can make it back into the Ajax lineup at all this season.

American midfielder\forward Earnie Stewart tried gamely to play with the thigh pull that forced him out of NAC Breda’s last match early in the first half. In a midweek match, he played 75 minutes in a 1-0 defeat of Roosendaal, setting up 10 days for recovery with no games until next weekend.

Riding the Pine:

Goalkeeper Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano, Spain) -- Was on the bench as Rayo overpowered Real Santander 4-1, but is expected to start Thursday in the critical UEFA Cup home-leg match against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Midfielder Ben Olsen (Nottingham Forest, England) -- Because of a Friday training injury, did not dress for 1-0 loss to Burnley, the goal coming on a late penalty.

Defender David Regis (Metz, France) -- Did not for scoreless draw with Lenz.

Midfielder Eddie Lewis (Fulham, England) -- Did not play in 1-1 draw with Preston.

Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (Fulham, England) -- On the bench as usual behind Malik Taylor in the draw with Preston.

Goalkeeper Ian Feuer (Wimbledon, England) -- Did not dress for 2-0 loss to Fulham.

Midfielder Tony Sanneh (Hertha Berlin, Germany) -- Did not dress for 1-1 draw with Freiburg.

Midfielder Frankie Hedjuk (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) -- Did not dress for 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the top-of-the-table meeting.

Forward Landon Donovan (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) -- Did not dress.

Midfielder John Thorrington (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) -- Still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com. Christopher Courtney is an American living in Wuerzburg, Germany where he follows the fortunes of American players in Europe. He can be contacted at yanksgermany@yahoo.com. Willy Calderon, an American living in Bristol, England, writes about soccer for various publications and netzines and can be contacted at willy@netcity.co.uk. Mark Flannery is an American teaching English in France and can be e-mailed at flan.overseas@wanadoo.fr.

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