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Reyna’s ‘punishment’ begins with benching; Moore’s versatility valued at Everton.

By Willy Calderon
and Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Monday, January 24, 2000) -- It looks like Claudio Reyna's punishment has started at Glasgow Rangers. It is probably no coincidence that Reyna started Rangers' first match after the winter break on the bench, after Rangers manager Dick Advocaat had expressed his regret that Reyna chose to spend the middle of January in California training with the United States national team, and playing against Iran, rather than in Fort Lauderdale training with Rangers.

Certainly Rangers appeared not to miss Reyna as they plummeted Aberdeen 5-0. Three of the goals came in a nine minute stretch before halftime, and the score had grown to 4-0 before Reyna was allowed to enter the match in the 68th minute. With the match completely out of reach for Aberdeen, Advocaat sent Reyna in for Jorg Albertz, among Rangers' most popular players, who left to a standing ovation.

In Florida, Albertz had said he was ready to leave Scotland and return to Germany if he was not starting. Rangers' chairman David Murray was quick to stress Albertz's importance to Rangers.

Over the winter break Rangers spent over $2 million to acquire midfielder Tugay Kerimoglu from Galatasaray in Turkey. He entered the match about three minutes after Reyna and showed why he was one of the more sought after players on the European transfer list. In his 20 minutes, he came close to scoring twice and set up Rangers fifth goal. The Turkish international midfielder will be battling for a starting position in an already crowded Rangers midfield.

In recent weeks Advocatt has been very vocal in denouncing the national team call-up on several of his players including Reyna and Australian Craig Moore. He pressured Moore into talking his way out of an Australian tour of South America, and Reyna has agreed to forgo playing in the Gold Cup next month.

Advocatt apparently decided to underline the consequences of choosing national team duty over club responsibilities by keeping Reyna out of the starting side.

The win moved Rangers six points ahead of second place Celtic, who drew 1-1 on Sunday with Kilmarnock. Rangers also have one match in hand. The pressure now grows on Celtic to keep pace, or Rangers could have the league title wrapped up by the time the two teams meet again in an "Old Firm" match on March 8.

While the U.S. national team teammates were enjoying training in the mild breezes of California, striker Joe-Max Moore has been skating across frozen fields in the north of England. Right now there is probably no place he would rather be.

On Wednesday, playing for Everton's reserve side against Bradford, Moore scored his second goal in five days, giving Everton a short-lived 1-0 lead in an eventual 3-2 loss. In the third minute, Moore put in a rebound to give Everton the lead. The goal was very similar to his first Premier League tally scored against Tottenham the previous Saturday.

By halftime the score was tied 2-2, and in the second half the field became frozen and the players had difficulty even standing. Finally Bradford scored the winner late on a penalty kick.

Then on Saturday for the full team, Moore came on in the 78th minute of Everton's 2-0 loss to Southampton. Southampton broke open a tight match with two second half goals. Then Everton rallied late. Moore almost set up what would have been a consolation goal when he broke down the wing and crossed directly onto Francis Jeffers' head, but the young striker’s strong effort was stopped by veteran Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones.

Interestingly, Moore was inserted into the match as a wing midfielder. Everton manager Walter Smith has complained that because of injuries he has only 16 field players available. He sees Moore as a primary sub both in the midfield and on the forward line. Moore's ability to play a range of positions, makes him valuable to the short-handed Everton.

Moore's recent goal scoring has raised questions among Everton fans and in the media over whether he should be starting. But Smith reiterated his view of the importance of the front-line partnership between Kevin Campbell and Francis Jeffers as still his top option, despite the goals from Moore.

"People start to draw conclusions," Smith told reporters. "We need a pool of players as we need cover for everyone in the squad. (Last) Saturday Francis came off and Joe-Max Moore came on and scored the equalizer, but that doesn't necessarily mean Francis won't appear in the team."

Moore remains practical about his role at Everton. "The Everton front line is excellent," he said in an interview published on Everton's official web site. "Francis and Kevin are both excellent players. (Francis) is a smart kid, a fine young player and I expect him to come straight back into the side. It's hard, I know, but I enjoy being part of the strike force here and working with them in training is excellent for me."

In Spain, U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller and his Rayo Vallecano, lost the kind of match from which it is hard to recover. On the road at Mallorca, against a rival who is challenging it for a position in one of the European competitions next year, Rayo had a chance to steal a victory, but instead lost in injury time penalty kick.

Keller played well. In the early going, David Castedo, hit the post for the home side, and then put Mallorca ahead when he was sent in alone on Keller in the 21st minute.

Eighteen minutes into the second half, Rayo striker, Manolo Canabal headed the ball past Mallorca goalkeeper Leo Franco to level the score at 1-1. From that point on Rayo threatened continually, put could not get a second goal.

Finally, in injury time, Luis Cembranos hacked down Paco Francisco just inside the Rayo area and Mallorca striker Diego Tristan drilled the ball past a diving Keller to give the home side three points.

After its strong start, Rayo continues to struggle. Keller and the defense continues to show strength, but the team has lost the scoring touch it showed in the first six weeks of the season.

Back in England, there might be some bad news for former Columbus Crew striker Stern John. The Trinidad & Tobago national whose debut at Nottingham Forest started off so well, left the field injured after a 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion. John had several good chances to score including a late header that went wide.

"It does appear that he has a ligament injury which will need a scan over the weekend," said Forest manager David Platt. "It doesn't look too good at the moment but we'll just have to wait and see the result of X-rays."

Forest, which lost to Chelsea in the F.A. Cup fourth round earlier in the week, has had trouble scoring all year and have won only three of its last 16 matches.

Willy Calderon, reporting from England, can be e-mailed at willy@netcity.co.uk. Senior correspondent Robert Wagman in Washington, D.C. can be e-mailed at SoccerWag1@aol.com.

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