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Americans Abroad

Reyna shines at right back as Rangers crush Celtic 4-0; Moore, Lewis are impressive in English leagues.

By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
Willie Calderon (in Bristol, England)
Arne van Kalsbeek (in Amsterdam) and
Matthias Schneider (in Leverkusen, Germany)

(Monday, March 27, 2000) -- American midfielder Claudio Reyna played the entire 90 minutes in an unaccustomed role of a right back as two goals by Jorg Albertz led Glasgow Rangers to an emphatic 4-0 victory over Celtic in Sunday's Old Firm clash at Ibrox.

Reyna played a great match as he started at right back in place of the injured Tony Vidmar. Playing as one of three defenders in the back, Reyna displayed some good defensive skills. His quick reaction in the penalty area stopped Celtic's Mark Viduka from shooting on goal from eight yards out in early action.

Reyna continued to play well in the second half. In the 48th minute, he spotted Barry Ferguson splitting two Celtic defenders. He took the ball at midfield and lofted a 20-yard pass that fell onto Ferguson's foot inside the penalty area but his shot was lobbed over the bar.

Midway through the second half when Rangers defender Scott Wilson miskicked a ball and it went over keeper Stefan Klos' head, it was Reyna who tracked back and cleared the shot off the line.

Rangers took the lead in the fourth minute off a Giovanni van Bronckhurst corner kick. Andrei Kanchelskis headed the ball back across the goal mouth to unmarked strikers Billy Dodds and Jorg Albertz with Albertz connecting with a header for a 1-0 lead.

In the 41st minute as Celtic midfielders lost control of the ball in midfield, Van Bronckhurst took control of the ball on a counter attack and sent Kanchelskis on a breakaway. The Russian midfielder placed a shot beautifully past Celtic keeper Jonathan Gould for a 2-0 lead.

Five minutes from the end, Albertz scored a wonderful scissors kick goal to the delight of the crowd. Two minutes later, Van Bronckhurst ended the scoring with a scorching 20-yard shot past Celtic keeper Jonathan Gould.

The win virtually clinches the Scottish Premiere League title as the club can look forward to next season's Champions League qualification.

In Premiere League action in England, this weekend, Sunderland all but ended Everton's hopes of finishing high enough to earn admission to the UEFA Cup next year with a 2-1 decision .

United States striker Joe-Max Moore again started for Everton. He had an excellent opportunity in front of goal in the 34th minute, but his shot went over the crossbar. He was replaced in the 82nd minute by Don Hutchison, who wasted a late opportunity presented to him in the box.

Sunderland earned the victory when Premiership leading scorer Kevin Phillips notched his 26th goal of the season with a brilliant shot that beat Everton keeper Paul Gerrard.

Sunderland had opened the scoring in the eight minute when Nick Summerbee smashed a free kick through the defense and past Gerrard.

Everton scored the equaliser in the 39th minute after a Mark Pembridge throw-in landed unchallenged to midfielder Nick Barmby who volleyed a 25-yard rocket past Sunderland keeper Tommy Sorensen

With the loss, Everton dropped to 10th place in the Premiership, and while having no fear of relegation, will probably finish in the middle of the table.

Fulham dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Ipswich in England's First Division on Saturday on a controversial goal in the 90th minute by Dutchman Martijn Reuser.

As he had a week ago, U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis came on in the second half to provide an offensive spark.

Fulham started the match with three strikers -- German international Karl-Heinz Riedle, Barry Hayles, and Canadian Paul Peschisolido -- in an attempt to break out of its scoring slump. But the trio couldn't muster a goal mostly because of the Ipswich keeper Richard Wright.

Ipswich scored in extra time when midfielder Jim Magilton's pass split two Fulham defenders and found Reuser who looked well offside. But the linesman kept his flag down, and Reuser slipped a shot past keeper Mark Taylor from 12 yards.

Lewis came on as a substitute for Riedle in the 65th minute. As in the Barnsley match a week ago, the Fulham offense was rejuvenated when Lewis came off the bench. Almost immediately he caused defenders some consternation as he sped up and down the left wing, continuously slipping through the Ipswich defense

He caused Ipswich (and future England goalkeeper) Richard Wright to make some hard saves including one that was world-class. However, Lewis' speed and passing couldn't conjure up a goal.

As he has every league match this season, American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann spent the match on the bench as Taylor played his usual strong match in the Fulham nets.

The loss pushed Fulham further away from the promotion playoffs for a spot in next season's Premiere League. Currently it sits in 10th place, four spots and 10 points away from the last playoff spot. The likelihood that Fulham will spend another season in the Division One is increasing with each match.

In the Netherlands, Ajax finally won a game again Sunday, defeating visiting NEC 5-2. American John O'Brien played the complete match again and seems to have settled into his defensive midfield role. He is not seen as a player that makes many creative passes, but continues to play very strongly in defensive midfield, capturing balls from opponents, while not losing many himself.

Ajax is now in fifth position, but could move up to third with a victory in a postponed match that is still to be played.

In the second division, NAC Breda held onto its four point lead by defeating the beat Go Ahead Eagles 3-2. American Ernie Stewart played the complete match, and while he did not score this week, was a constant threat.

In Germany, U.S. midfielder Tony Sanneh did not play as Hertha Berlin was surprised by Stuttgart 1-0. Likewise, American mid Frankie Hedjuk was not dressed as Bayer Leverkusen earned a 1-1 draw with SC Freiburg.

Hedjuk, who has been battling some injury problems, did not play as Leverkusen's reserve side fought to a 1-1 draw with FC Kaiserslautern in third division action. American teen striker Landon Donovan again played the entire match for the Leverkusen reserves.

Another American did have a big day in Regionalliga West\Southwest action. John Van Buskirk scored twice as Spfr Siegen defeated Rot-Weiss Essen 3-0.

The 27-year-old, has been in Germany for the past four seasons. Last year he played occasionally for KFC Uerdingen in Bundesliga 2. He was traded midseason to third division LR Ahlen, and in the offseason, joined Siegen.

In the U.S. he last played for the minor league Louisville Thoroughbreds in 1995.

In Spain on Sunday, in a Madrid derby, Rayo Vallecano earned a 0-0 draw with arch-rival Real Madrid. Actually Rayo came within inches of winning when Luis Cembranos' blast hit the post in the final minutes.

Injured American goalkeeper Kasey Keller's replacement, last year's starter Julen Lopetegui, had little to do in Rayo's nets as Real just could not generate much offense. A week ago, in Rayo's 4-1 win over Valladolid, Lopetegui played a strong match, not yielding a goal until the final minute

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at SoccerWag1@aol.com. Willy Calderon, an American living in Bristol, England, can be e-mailed at willy@netcity.co.uk. Arne van Kalsbeek lives in Amsterdam and writes for the English language web site Ajax Mania. Matthias Schneider lives in Leverkusen, Germany and is employed by Bayer Leverkusen as an English-language translator.

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