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Americans Abroad

Reyna scores winner for Rangers who roll again.

By Robert Wagman (in Amsterdam)
Willy Calderon (in Bristol, England)
Arne van Kalsbeek (in Amsterdam) and
Matthias Schneider (in Leverkusen, Germany)

(Tuesday, May 9, 2000) -- In Glasgow Rangers first few matches of the season, American midfielder Claudio Reyna played an attacking midfield position and scored several goals. Then he was moved to defensive midfield, and occasionally to right back, and he has had few opportunities to take good shots on goal.

Sunday, however, with the Scottish league championship won, Rangers manager Dick Advocaat wanted to look at some younger defenders, so he inserted Reyna in the attacking midfield. The American responded with a goal and an assist, and several other quality chances as Rangers extended their unbeaten string to 21 matches with a 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock.

The presence of Tony Vidmar at right back brought Reyna more chances in the attacking third of the field. In the 43rd minute, Jorg Albertz took control of the ball at midfield and noticed Reyna dart through the Kilmarnock defense unmarked on a 25-yard run. Albertz chipped the ball just inside the penalty area, Reyna trapped it beautifully in full stride and immediately slotted home for the 1-0 lead.

It was Reyna's first goal since August when he was he was voted Scottish Premier League "Player of the Month." His first goal at Ibrox was on opening day, also against Kilmarnock.

Reyna almost made it 2-0 when, just before the half, he got off a well-struck half-volley from the edge of the area. But his shot was inches wide.

United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel was on the bench again when Liverpool struggled in a 0-0 draw against Southampton. The tie threatens to keep Liverpool out of the Champions League next season. Leeds United tied Everton 1-1 last night and is one point ahead of Liverpool for third place in England’s Premier League and the final Champions League spot with one game remaining.

Recent press reports have said Liverpool wants to hold onto Friedel if he can find some way of obtaining an European Union passport. A spot in the Champions League next would almost certainly mean more appearances for the backup keeper, but Liverpool might want to start three non-EU players next season and a non-EU backup keeper would be a luxury the club would not be able to afford

In other Premiership action, American keeper Ian Feuer was back on the bench when West Ham United fell to Sunderland 1-0. With the season's finish no longer an issue, West Ham manager Harry Redknapp wanted to get a look at teenager Stephen Bywater in goal. It appears Redknapp wants to check all his options in goal for next season.

U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis played the first 56 minutes of Fulham's 3-0 win over Huddersfield Sunday night.

In Spain, Rayo Vallecano scored a stunning 2-0 of Champions League semifinalist Barcelona, which might have had its mind on tomorrow’s second-leg meeting with Valencia. Two goals by Bolo (a k a John Perez) were the difference.

Julen Lopetegui was again in goal for Rayo with American Kasey Keller still on the bench as he has been for the last eight weeks since breaking his collarbone. The loss also almost certainly means Barcelona will not win the Spanish league crown.

In the Netherlands, the only American to play was defender Gregg Berhalter who had a strong match for Cambuur Leeuwarden which rolled over Willem II 4-1. Berhalter was the highest-rated defender on the field.

In Amsterdam, U.S. midfielder John O'Brien did not play for Ajax which hung onto hopes of playing in European competition next year by defeating MVV 1-0 on a 86th minute goal.

Also in the Netherlands, NAC won promotion back into the first division by clinching the second division title. U.S. attacker Ernie Stewart, whose fine play all year has helped NAC's promotion run, did not play, sidelined by the injury that kept him out of the U.S.-Russia match a couple of weeks ago.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.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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