U.S. Men's schedule
Reyna pressure helps Sunderland dismiss Rovers, Friedel, in 3-0 triumph; Thorrington returns with pair to lead Huddersfield Town over Peterborough.Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.),
Gary Davidson (in Washington, D.C.)
(Wednesday, December 26, 2001) -- The day after Christmas is Boxing Day in England, a major holiday which has virtually every soccer team in action.
For the second time in four days, top American players faced off in the Premier League with Sunderland and its recent $6.5 million acquisition, United States midfielder and captain Claudio Reyna proving much too much for the host Blackburn Rovers and U.S. goalkeeper Brad Freidel in a 3-0 romp before 29,869 at Ewood Park.
In the Second Division, American midfielder John Thorrington had perhaps his best offensive showing for Huddersfield Town, scoring twice in a 3-1 triumph over Peterborough. Thorrington, bothered by a hamstring injury and sidelined for most of December, started and provided a 2-0 lead in the 34th and 52nd minutes before coming off in the 66th with his club up 3-0.
Reyna, who was burdened with more defensive responsibilities while playing for Glasgow Rangers in Scotland, has thrived in a more attacking role in his three games for the Black Cats and caused problems for Rovers all afternoon.
Friedel stopped Niall Quinn’s bullet header from 12 yards off a pinpoint pass from Michael Gray around the 10-minute mark. Having not done better with a seemingly free shot, it seemed Quinn was well on his way to a 13th straight game without a goal. However, the 35-year-old’s luck changed quickly when he scored twice, putting Sunderland ahead 2-0 after 32 minutes.
In the 17th minute, Gavin McCann sent a free kick that mysterious missed a crowd in the penalty area, leaving Friedel out of position when the ball eventually found the foot of Kevin Phillips. He touched to Quinn for an easy shot into plenty of empty net
In the 25th minute, Friedel was magnificent to turn away Reyna’s free kick, but 10 minutes later, there was nothing Friedel could do when Quinn, unmarked, used the back of his head to flick home Julio Arca cross to make it 2-0.
Reyna's effort to put Sunderland ahead 3-0 was headed off the goal-line by Nils-Eric Johansson early in the second half.
Friedel was helpless to stop Kevin Kilbane, a beneficiary of the largesse of Phillips in the 88th minute. After a failed offside trap, Phillips unselfishly knocked the ball across the face of the goal for Kilbane to easily deposit for a 3-0 lead.
By winning successive outings for the first time this season, Sunderland ended a four-match road losing streak. Amazingly, the Black Cats' last first-half goal came in August.
Any Rovers comeback hopes were crippled in the 69th minute when Craig Short was ejected with a red card. Short was saved earlier embarrassment in the ninth minute when he was spared putting a ball in his own net by a goal post.
After making his first start of the season Saturday in a 1-0 loss to Sunderland -- a match decided on a late goal by Reyna -- it was back to the bench for U.S. striker Joe-Max Moore in a 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United.
It only took Moore eight minutes to make it into action, however, when Danish international midfielder Thomas Gravesen aggravated an injury, ending his day.
Moore had some good touches, but was robbed of a sensational goal just before intermission when keeper Fabien Barthez stretched full length to palm away the American’s overhead kick from a scramble in the box.
Everton hung tough, but was done in when Ryan Giggs found net in the 78th minute and Ruud van Nistelrooy added another seven minutes later.
U.S. keeper Kasey Keller was dressed and appeared ready after completing rehabilitation from ankle surgery, but still has yet to play for Tottenham Hotspur in a league match, instead watching from the bench as Spurs fell 1-0 to Southampton.
In England’s First Division, three second-half goals in a four-minute span doomed Crystal Palace to a 3-0 setback at Millwall,
American defender Gregg Berhalter did well for 90 minutes and his U.S. teammate, attacker Jovan Kirovski also had a few good moments before coming out in the 66th minute in a match that was evenly played except for the fateful four minutes.
Starting a one-month loan to Reading in the Second Division, American keeper Marcus Hahnemann was respectable, but beaten twice by striker Robert Earnshaw in a 2-2 draw with Cardiff.
There was little Hahnemann could do to prevent either tally.
Senior correspondent Robert Wagman compiled and edited this column. He
can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SoccerTimes managing editor Gary Davidson also contributed and can be e-mailed at
Senior correspondent Robert Wagman compiled and edited this column. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com. SoccerTimes managing editor Gary Davidson also contributed and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.