Little action last week; earlier Reyna scores but Rangers routed;
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
start in draw; Stewart hits PK in NAC win
and Willy Calderon (in Bristol, England)
and Christopher Courtney (in Wuerzburg, Germany)
(Wednesday, September 6, 2000) -- A strange two weeks in European soccer. With early
rounds of Cup competitions, and then World Cup qualifiers last weekend, relatively few
European matches were played. Moreover, most of the Americans playing at the upper levels
in Europe were in Washington, D.C., helping the United States defeat Guatemala 2-1.
The previous week in Scotland was extraordinarily an up and down week for
Claudio Reyna's Glasgow Rangers. On Wednesday,
they easily dispatched Danish champions Herfolge in Champions League qualifying by an
aggregate 6-0. Rangers went into the home leg with an insurmountable 3-0 lead and Reyna was at the heart of a short passing attack that frustrated the Danes and allowed Rangers three more easy goals. Reyna started the plays on two of the goals.
Then on Friday, Rangers received a favorable draw for the first round of Champions League group play. Rangers were placed in Group D with Austria's Sturm Graz, Monaco of France and Turikish champions Galatasaray. Ranagers should have a good chance of emerging from the group.
But on Sunday, the week's good news came to a crashing halt. In the first of four "Old Firm" matches this season against traditional rival Celtic, Rangers ran into a buzz saw and lost by a stunning 6-2. It was the worst Rangers defeat in many years.
Reyna played the full 90, and had Rangers only goal from the field, a nicely placed 40th minute header. Reyna's far post header barely crossed the line as keeper Jonathan Gould tried desperately to save it. But the linesman got the call right. But by that time Rangers were down 3-0, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Rangers other goal was on a penalty kick. But neither Reyna nor his teammates could do little right on the afternoon. Outplayed and defensively vulnerable throughout the match, Rangers could not handle the onslaught of its energized rivals. Henrik Larsson scored twice early in the second half for Celtic, goals in the 50th and 62nd minutes, and that killed off any chances that Rangers had of a comeback and they were left to suffer one of the most embarrassing losses in club history. Both teams had entered the match undefeated, so the loss shows rangers will not have an easy march to the Scottish league title this season.
In England, striker Joe-Max Moore made his first start of the season and was in top form
as he created several chances for Everton in its 2-2 draw with Derby County.
In the 38th minute, Moore assisted on the first Everton goal. Thomas Gravesen sent a pass to Moore down the right corner of the penalty area. His first attempt at a cross was blocked but his persistence was rewarded and on his second attempt he rolled a splitting pass across the goal mouth for Francis Jeffers to tap into the net.
Although up 2-0 at the break, Derby County fought back to earn the draw. The Everton defense was in disarray after an injury to former Kansas City Wizard defender Richard Gough left a hole in the back. "It just kind of fell apart," Joe-Max revealed to the Everton website. "We were a little bit disjointed especially when Goughie had to go off, so we have a few things to work on."
Back home after the Guatemala match, Moore was inserted into the midfield in the 80th minute of Everton's 3-2 Tuesday night loss to Tottenham. It was the second match in a row that Everton could not hold a two goal lead. The club also received the news that star striker Duncan Ferguson will require surgery on his injured calf and could be out of action for up to eight weeks. This could propel Moore into a starters role.
Eddie Lewis did not dress for Fulham's 4-1 win over Stockport. As usual, Marcus Hahnemann was on the substitute's bench. Then on Monday, in the special Bank Holiday Monday match, Lewis was inserted in the 81st minute as Fulham got a fortunate 88th-minute goal from Luis Boa Morte to defeat Norwich 1-0, and to hold onto first place in the English First Division. Marcus Hahnemann was again on the bench.
Previously, in the first leg of the English League Cup First Round, Hahnemann made his English debut playing the full 90 minutes as Fulham lost 1-0 away to Northampton. Fulham manager Jean Tigana used a heavily substitute side and Fulham seemed disorganized as the Londoners were outplayed by a sharp Northampton squad.
Hahnemann was the victim of a sleepy defense. In the 24th minute, Northampton striker Marco Gabbiadini collected a pass in the penalty area and slotted home a goal inside the far post past a diving Hahnemann. Two minutes later a powerful 30-yard shot from striker Steve Howard hit Hahnemann's hands and was cleared. It took 40 minutes for Fulham to manage a shot on goal as striker Luis Boa Morte's shot was saved by Keith Welch which deflect on to Eddie Lewis who headed the rebound directly into the hands of the keeper.
All is not lost at Fulham, as the second leg will occur at home with Tigana likely to use a different squad.
In other English action, Ian Feuer was on the bench for Wimbledon's 0-0 draw with Watford. As has been the case at Wimbledon, manager Terry Burton has decided to
rotate the back-up goalkeeper on the game day roster. In Monday's 1-1 draw with Preston North End, Ian Feuer found himself left off the substitute's bench and watching from the stands. Stefani Miglioranzi also found himself on the substitute's bench for Portsmouth 1-1 draw with Gillingham, and on Bank Holiday Monday, Miglioranzi did not dress as Portsmouth defeated Wolverhampton 3-1 courtesy of a Steve Claridge hat trick.
In other news from England, Nottingham Forest manager David Platt has confirmed his interest in obtaining DC United winger Ben Olsen on loan after the Olympics in Sydney. "I have made an enquiry about the possibility of signing him on loan after the Olympics," Platt said, "and we're still talking to the MLS about it." "I've known about Ben for a long time. I made an enquiry last year when we bought Stern John to Forest from Columbus Crew but he hadn't played the required number of games at international level to obtain a
work permit. We believe that he now satisfies that criteria but are
just awaiting confirmation."
One snag in the deal is that Platt wants to keep him through the end of the English season in May and MLS wants him back in March for the start of the MLS season. Another note of interest, there are reports Forest might be interested in selling John to an Italian team if the money is right. Several Italian teams have shown interest in the striker who is now recovering from knee surgery.
Gregg Berhalter looks to be in a position to chose between two English First Division teams. Previously he had tried out with Huddersfield, but he declined the contract he was offered. Now he is trying out with Norwich City and expects to be offered a contract as early as this week. The Huddersfield contract is still on the table and the choice will be whether to take what will probably be a slightly better offer from Norwhich who Berhalter says has better facilities, or Huddersfield, which has a better team and more of a possibility for promotion into the Premiership.
In Germany, a week ago it was German Cup game matches, then a weekend off for World Cup qualifying. Regular Bundesliga matches will resume this week.
Tony Sanneh regained his place on the subs bench but did not play in his team's 3-2 win over Reutlingen. With four starting players nursing injuries Hertha Berlin now finds itself needing Sanneh again. He confirms he has been offered a contract extension through the 2002 season but says "I need to find out exactly where I stand before I will commit." His current contract is up at the end of this season.
In the pre season and early season matches, Sanneh was substituted in out of his normal position and seldom plays where he feels at home, attacking midfielder. This season Hertha is not a good fit for him as he plays for a club stocked full of talented attacking players.
At Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Frankie Hejduk is once again dressing as a substitute but Coach Christoph Daum once again chose to go with strikers as late game insertions. His club had no problems dispatching Fortuna Cologne 4-0. Landon Donovan, just before leaving to join the U.S. Olympic Team played well in the Amateur side's 2-1 loss to FC Saint Pauli.
U.S. U-18 player Ned Grabavoy is currently on trial at German powerhouse Bayern Munich. He is physically small, but Bayern is impressed with his ball skills. Should he be signed he'll most likely compete with the reserve squad who plays in the 3d division south.
In perhaps the biggest news to continue out of Germany, Joe Enochs continues his strong play as libero at Osnabruck. He received the highest individual press ratings on either team in Osnabruck's recent 3-1 league loss to Moenchengladbach. He also started and turned in a strong performance in a 1-0 loss to Hannover 96 in DFB Pokal. He nearly scored the equalizer on a 65th minute free kick but did not convert. Despite Enoch's strong play, his coach is looking for help on defense to help the team earn their first points of the season. German fans in Osnabruck are wondering why this versatile player has yet to play for the USA.
Hannover 96 continues to stay in the promotion zone without the recovering Steve Cherundolo. Despite his prolonged injuries, the ambitious club extended his contract to 2003. He is 4-6 weeks away from his first appearance of the season.
"I'm very happy with the team and I like out chances of making it into the Bundesliga so I signed on for another 2 years," Cherundolo told SoccerTimes. "Playing over here is helping me to improve my game and grow up fast."
Rumors out of Hannover indicate another American may soon join the Second Bundesliga side. The team is said to be talking with MLS about acquiring Columbus Crew's Dante Washington for a backup role at the promotion favorites.
The new 3d Division continues to impress fans as evidenced by a surprisingly strong Stuttgart Amateurs side 6-1 win over Bundesliga club Frankfurt. Several teams this year are playing 2d division quality soccer.
Another big story on Americans in Germany this year is the strong starting role of Americans Brent Goulet and Grover Gibson at league leading SpVgg Elversberg. Leading the 3d Division south with 10 points in 4 games, Elversberg is riding a wave of success. 21 year old Gibson, a former US youth player moved to the team from FC Augsburg and has quickly become a fan favorite. Credited for setting up many goals so far to help the team to first place, the former striker seems to have found a home at left midfield.
Some fans may remember 36 year old Brent Goulet who played for the USA 17 times in the 1980s, scoring 7 goals. Additionally he played in the 1984 Olympics and played in England at Bournemouth and Crewe Alexandra where he once scored 3 goals in 3 games.
American keeper Tim Lawson is currently in a backup role at Elversberg.
Just when Taylor Twellman earned a starting job at 1860 Munich Amateurs he pinched a nerve in training and has been out for two weeks. Still listed by the team as injured, the coach plans to take him with the team in this week's game at Regensburg.
Greg Kile is back in his starting defensive role at Luneberg and helped them to a 2-2 draw with TeBe Berlin. He played very well in defense this week against Sachsen Leipzig and allowed his man no chances on goal. He won almost all one on one challenges but the rest of his team looked dead on their feet. They lost 3-1. He could play in the German second division but there are too many guys at that level with
abilities equal to his.
Gabriel Valencia made his first appearance at Sachsen Leipzig in the team's 2-0 loss to VFB Lubeck, Inserted in the 75th minute to create some offense, Valencia was unable to help his team create.
David Wagner's nagging knee injuries continue to deny him 90 minutes of playing time at SV Darmstadt. He played a strong 66 minutes against Karsruhe in a midwweek match but failed to create any goals in a 0-0 draw. He is in action this Saturday against first place Elversberg.
John Van Buskirk's Sportfreunde Siegen has yet to earn a point in the 2000-2001 campaign. Together with fellow American Mareck Nowacki, the team continues to look for a way out of their flat play.
Surging Karlsruhe SC won their German Cup opener 2-1 over Chemnitz with Carlo Espinosa appearing on the reserve bench but not in the game.
In France, young St. Louisian Cody Anderson, who was previously reported trying out at Lazio Roma, has now surfaced on trial with David Regis' team, FC Metz in France. His signing status remains unclear for now.
Finally, in the Netherlands, John O'Brien did not play in either of Ajax's two season opening league matches, as coach Co Adriaanse substituted for three Ajax players who will be lost for international duty. O'Brien will be gone for a month with the Olympics, and he was clearly missed as Ajax went down to Sparta Rotterdam 3-0.
Things were better for Earnie Stewart and his NAC Breda teammates. They defeated Groningen 5-1 with Stewart converting a penalty kick in the 35th minute. NAC has split its first two matches of the season and sits in 6th place.
Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Christopher Courtney
is an American living in Wuerzburg, Germany where he follows the fortunes of American players in Europe.
He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Willy Calderon, an American living in Bristol, England, writes about soccer for various
publications and netzines and can be contacted at