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Lewis scores his first for Fulham, Olsen second in midweek action in England.

Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
and Willy Calderon (in Bristol, England)
Special to SoccerTimes

(Wednesday, November 29, 2000) -- It was a long time coming, but American midfielder Eddie Lewis finally notched his first goal for Fulham, helping his side to a last minute 3-2 Worthington Cup fourth-round victory over Derby County.

The victory sent Fulham through to a meeting with Liverpool in the next round.

At almost the same minute Lewis was scoring at Craven Cottage, United States midfielder Ben Olsen scored a terrific goal for Nottingham Forest which blanked Sheffield United 2-0 in a regular first division match at City Grounds. Olsen was voted "Man of the Match" by several news organizations.

Lewisí goal came when he beat Derby County keeper Martin Poom with a 22-yard rocket to even the score 2-2 in the 39th minute of a tense match. Danish international Bjarne Goldbaekís well-timed pass found Fabrice Fernandes who put the ball through to Lewis.

The match was tied until the 90th minute when young Frenchman Louis Saha, the first divisionís top scorer, gave Fulham the 3-2 victory on a header off a corner.

Olsenís goal, his second since arriving at Forest, came in the 10th minute after Jack Lester was not able to control 18-year-old Irishman Andrew Reidís fine pass. Olsen picked up the ball, made two fine moves to come in alone on Blades keeper Simon Tracey and then beat him from a sharp angle.

Forest manager David Platt surprised many by starting Reid at forward, after it was decided that former Columbus Crew standout Stern John was not ready to return to the line-up following a long layoff from knee surgery. Normal front-line starter Gary Jones is also out with an injury.

In recent days there has been considerable talk that Forest wants to acquire Olsen from Major League Soccer, where he has one year, plus an option year, to run on his contract to play for D.C. United. He is currently on a three-month loan to Forest, reportedly enjoying himself and interested in moving to England full-time.

One report has him earning more in his three-month stay at City Ground than he is paid by MLS, about $110,000 a season.

The stumbling block to Forest acquiring Olsen will be money. MLS and Forest management admit preliminary talks are underway, but neither will characterize them. Reportedly, MLS is asking for a transfer fee upwards of $2 million for the attacking midfielder, probably more than the British club is able or willing to pay.

Forestís chairman Nigel Doughty announced last week that Forest lost $6.8 million last year, the result of being relegated from the Premier League. John Pelling, the clubís finance director, told reporters that the club might be willing to spend additional new money for players if it has a good chance of winning promotion back into the top division. As for now, "at the moment we can afford to keep the current squad of players for this season but currently there is no money to spend," he said.

In other news from England, U.S. striker Joe-Max Moore has recovered from the flu and throat infection which sidelined him last week and kept him out of Evertonís 2-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday. He has resumed training and will travel to Sunderland next weekend.

A young American is starting to make an impression with Manchester United where goalkeeper Paul Rachubka, 19, is now clearly competing with 37-year-old Dutch former international Raymond Van Der Gouw for the backup role. Rachubka has been alternating as a substitute in recent matches. In United's 2-1 loss last night, he was the backup for Van Der Gouw. Two weeks ago he was the backup for Fabien Barthez during United's 1-0 win over Manchester City.

Rachubka is a product of the Manchester United youth system. He was born and raised in California, but left to join the Man. U. program when he was 16. For his first year with the club, he was Danish international Peter Schmeichel's "boot boy" and the "Great Dane" took the teenager under his wing. Schmeichel predicted Rachubka would one day succeed him at Old Trafford.

When Rabchubka turned 18, he signed a professional contract and made his debut with the full team last year in the World Club Championship in Brazil. With the Reds leading South Melbourne 2-0, the young Californian came in and played the final eight minutes.

Last season, Rachubka started on the clubís under-19 team which finished second in the league on goal difference to Everton, then lost in the second round of the playoffs to Chelsea. This season, he started as the fourth keeper on the teamís depth chart, but seems to be moving up quickly.

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

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