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Americans Abroad

Friedel shines in debut for Blackburn, Olsen excels again for Forest.

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

(Monday, November 20, 2000) -- American goalkeeper Brad Friedel finally made his debut for Blackburn in the English first division. And it was a debut to remember.

Thanks to an amazing reflexive save, Friedel preserved a shutout as Blackburn defeated the Wolverhampton Wolves 1-0.

Friedel had waited three weeks since coming over from Liverpool before Rovers manager Graeme Souness thought he had regained the sharpness he needed to win. On a day when the club celebrated its 125th anniversary, Friedel won the match with three fine moves in the final minutes. Blackburn had taken the lead in the 64th minute on a controversial penalty kick, but the Wolves came roaring back.

With less than two minutes to play, Wolves striker Tony Dinning launched a point-blank shot which Friedel saved. Then in injury time, he stood his ground and forced Dinning to shoot wide, and the victory belonged to Blackburn.

"Had it not been for the instincts of Friedel, they (Wolves) would surely have gone home with a point in the bag," one broadcaster noted.

United States midfielder Ben Olsen, on loan to Nottingham Forest from Major League Soccer’s D.C United, started in a 2-1 loss to Wimbledon. With several starters missing from the lineup, Forest didn’t manage a shot on goal until well into the second half. Tt was a strange finish, with Forest drawing level in injury time and then Wimbledon putting in the winner only 20 seconds later.

Olsen was replaced by Keith Foy in the 78th minute when the American seemed to tire, but he was one of the bright spots for Forest on the afternoon.

Despite spending this season on the bench at Wimbledon, Ian Feuer didn't fail to impress during a 1-0 reserve match loss to Chelsea on Monday night. His outstanding display between the posts denied Chelsea throughout the match including six magnificent saves, including stopping a couple of breakaways.

Chelsea used such European internationals as Christian Panucci, Bernard Lambourde, Jody Morris and Dragan Jokanovic.

Feuer did not dress for the match against Forest.

Perhaps the most interesting news from Germany this week is that MetroStars young defender Mike Petke has been invited for a tryout by Bayern Munich late this month. Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld is unhappy with his defense which has given up 17 goals so far this season and longtime Bayern star Lothar Matthaeus, who played for the Metros in 2000, recommended Petke get a look.

"He is a diamond in the rough, good in the air, and a good man marker," Matthaeus told the German press." I think he could one day be better than Markus Babbel."

If signed, Petke would be the first American under contract to the storied club which includes a significant American following.

The situation for American midfielder Frankie Hejduk and striker Landon Donovan at Bayer Leverkusen does not look promising. While Leverkusen has failed in its attempt to sign young Argentine defender Milito, the team has announced it is going after two young strikers from Argentina; River Plate's Javier Saviola and Boca Juniors' Martin Palermo. If both sign, it would give Leverkusen eight non-European Union players and only three can dress for any match.

Hejduk’s contract expires at the end of the season, and while he may stay in Germany, it would almost surely be with another team.

This weekend, Bayer welcomed new coach Berti Vogts with a convincing 3-1 road win over Hamburger SV. Hejduk watched from the bench as his team took over first place in the Bundesliga.

American midfielder Tony Sanneh was originally listed as a sub for this week’s Hertha Berlin match against FC Schalke 04, but instead he started his fourth straight match because a rash of injuries. Stephan Beinlich has foot problems, Sebastian Deisler has a fever and Marko Rehmer has a pulled muscle, so Sanneh started as Hertha defended its first place standing against Schalke.

Soon Sanneh joined the ranks of the injured. Playing at right midfield, Sanneh apparently suffered a thigh injury early on and was substituted by Pal Dardai in the 22nd minute. Schalke had no problems with the weakened Berlin side and dispatched it 4-0 powered by a hat trick from Schalke’s Ebbe Sand.

Sanneh is listed as doubtful for this week’s UEFA Cup match against Inter Milan.

In his 12th start this year, defensive midfielder Joe Enochs played in a more attacking role in a hard fought 1-1 draw with LR Ahlen. With three scoring chances to his credit, Enochs nearly found net early in the second half after beating one defender then turning another in the area to unleash a shot which was saved. Enochs was shown a yellow card late in the game. Fellow American Jeff Yu did not dress for the game.

Hannover 96’s American defender Steve Cherundolo watched from the bench in a 4-2 victory over Arminia Bielefeld, his first match in almost seven months after recovering from a knee injury.

In the German third division, former U.S. player David Wagner scored his sixth goal of the year for Darmstadt 98 in a 1-1 draw with VFR Aalen.

In the Netherlands, Earnie Stewart’s NAC Breda squared off at home against fellow American John O’Brien’s Ajax. Stewart played the full 90 minutes despite having played for the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier in Barbados on Wednesday, but it was Ajax that won decisively 3-0. O’Brien continues to be bothered by an Achilles heel problem and did not dress.

In the Swiss first division, FC Lucerne’s American defensive midfielder Melchior Arnold returned to training last week and is expected to play next weekend. FC Lucerne has lost every game during Arnold’s absence and currently sits firmly in the relegation zone.

There is also news from the Belgian first division, that should be of interest to American fans. Dallas Burn keeper Matt Jordan reported for a trial with FC Ghent.

Riding the Pine

Goalkeeper Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano, Spain) - Again on the bench for a 4-2 decision over Malaga.

Midfielder Claudio Reyna (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland) - Continues to be dogged by a groin injury that has not responded to treatment. Did not dress for a lackluster 0-0 draw with Dunfermline.

Forward Joe-Max Moore (Everton, England) - After playing a full 90 minutes for the United States against Barbados, did not play in a 2-0 shutout of Arsenal.

Defender Gregg Berhalter (Everton, England) - Awaiting decision whether his tryout will continue for another 30 days.

Defender David Regis (Metz, France) - Was not dressed for a 4-1 loss to Marseille.

Midfielder Jovan Kirovski (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal) - Did not dress for a 0-0 draw with Boavista.

Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (Fulham, England) - As usual, was on bench in 3-1 defeat of Portsmouth.

Midfielder Eddie Lewis (Fulham, England) - Did not dress as for Portsmouth.

Forward Landon Donovan (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 follows French football closely.

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