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Americans Abroad

Razov nets three for Racing de Ferrol, Friedel excels again for Blackburn, but Keller is shelled.

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

(Monday, February 5, 2001) -- Major League Soccer’s loss apparently is Racing de Ferrol’s gain. Ante Razov, the erstwhile Chicago Fire striker had a big day in Spain’s second division Saturday, finding net three times after intermission to power Racing to a 5-0 romp over Compostela.

The American converted a penalty kick in the 57th minute, then, after just missing the frame two minutes later, curved a shot home in the 69th minute and tapped in a corner kick in the 86th.

Since Razov joined Racing, the team has moved clear of the relegation zone, now 17th among 22 teams in the division with 25 points and some breathing room.

In England’s first division, United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel continued his hot streak at Blackburn, recording his third shutout in a row and fourth in past five matches. Friedel has conceded but two goals in his last eight matches, but the Rovers have not solved their offensive woes and Saturday drew with Barnsley 0-0 Saturday.

Kevin Miller was Friedel’s equal in the Barnsley goal, making half a dozen classy saves, including a brilliant reflex effort to prevent Steve Hayward from scoring into his own goal. Friedel made great saves to keep first Isaiah Rankin and then Bruce Dyer off the board.

In Spain, it was a Sunday to forget for Friedel’s U.S. goalkeeping partner Kasey Keller who saw six balls go by him in a 6-1 loss to Real Zaragoza. How responsible Keller was became a matter for debate since his defense crumbled, but there was plenty of blame to go around.

Real attacked from the onset and had a goal disallowed in the fifth minute, but Zaragoza attackers sliced up the Rayo defense to score in all manner of ways. It will be interesting to see if the debacle will send Keller to the bench in favor of Julien Lopetegui.

In England’s Premier League, U.S. striker Joe-Max Moore started and played well in two matches, but the results for Everton were disappointing, as usual.

On Wednesday night, Moore played a strong 88 minutes, presenting a threat all night and assisting Everton’s second goal in a 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough. His crossing and passing were sharp and his 27-yard shot in the 43rd minute surprised goalkeeper Middlesbrough keeper Mark Schwarzer who barely stopped it.

Late in the game with Middlesbrough up 2-1, Moore put a corner kick from the left to the back post where a lurking Tal, who had just entered the match, trapped it with his chest and knee before smashing home a shot for the tie.

On Saturday, Everton’s bad luck continued against Premiership leader Manchester United, a 1-0 setback decided on a goal that deflected off defender Steve Watson.

Moore again started and played a solid 76 minutes before giving way to Danny Cadamarteri. In one 10-minute stretch in the first half, Moore precipitated a 10-minute stretch in which Everton put Man U. on its heels. In the 24th minute, a give-and-go between Moore and Watson nearly resulted in a goal, but it was cleared off the line. Then in the 34th minute, Moore settled a ball and blistered a shot just high.

At Preston North End in the first division, American striker Brian McBride went the full 90 minute in a 1-0 decision over Portsmouth. In a tight, physical, defensive match, neither side gave ground.

McBride managed only one quality chance which was covered by Portsmouth keeper Teuvo Moilanen. U.S.-eligible Stefani Miglioranzi started in the defensive midfield for Portsmouth and logged a solid 67 minutes before he was replaced.

U.S. midfielder Ben Olsen, who left the U.S. national team before its weekend friendly against Colombia to rush back to Nottingham Forest only to find he was ineligible for the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town. While he was back in the U.S., his temporary British work permit expired, and he needs to get it renewed to finish the season.

Because Olsen was originally loaned by MLS until its season commenced, he was issued a 90-day temporary permit when he first came to England. Now his loan has been extended into May, he must get a renewal which Forest officials hope to straighten out in time to get him back into the lineup next weekend. Canadian international and former MLS midfielder Jason Bent is also having permit problems at Preston North End where he impressed manager David Moyes during a three-week trial. Bent’s application for a permit was denied because Canada, at No. 76, is not ranked in the top 70 of world governing body FIFA’s rankings. Preston appealed the ruling.

In Scotland, U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna and Glasgow Rangers easily defeated Dunfermline 2-0. Because of injuries to teammates, Reyna filled in as a more offensive midfielder and was involved in Rangers’ offense all day. He had powerful shots denied by Dunfermline keeper Marco Ruitenbeek, in the 23rd and 42nd minutes.

In France, Metz was blown out by nemesis Monaco 6-1. U.S. defender David Regis went the full 90 for Metz which continued to display difficulty playing on the road.

In the Netherlands, American attacker Earnie Stewart produced a key goal that helped NAC Breda down Vitesse Arnhem 4-2. Going the full 90 minutes, Stewart weaved his way through the entire Vitesse defense and scored his third goal of the season to make the score 3-1 just before halftime.

Meanwhile at Ajax, American midfielder John O’Brien remains strangely out of favor. Even though his picture has been on the front of Ajax’s web site as a featured player of the week, he has not dressed recently despite reports that he has regained fitness after a long recovery from a severe heel injury suffered at the Summer Olympics in September.

No Americans saw action in the Germany’s Bundesliga this weekend. U.S. midfielder Tony Sanneh, coming off an injury, did not dress for Hertha Berlin which won a hard-fought match at relegation-threatened VfL Bochum 3-1, snapping a 13-match winless streak at Bochum.

"I feel all right. I think I could make it," Sanneh told SoccerTimes before the match. "I don't know about a full 90 minutes, but close to it. I ready to go when (Hertha manager Jürgen Röber) wants me."

The victory kept Hertha in fifth place with 34 points, five behind league leading Bayern Munich.

Bayer Leverkusen, with American midfielder Frankie Hejduk on the bench, avenged the most bitter defeat in club history with a 2-1 victory over SpVgg Unterhaching at Unterhaching's "Stadion am Sportpark." Last season, Leverkusen’s final weekend loss to Unterhaching cost it the league title. Leverkusen moved into to third place, two points behind Munich.

In the Second Bundesliga, American defender Steve Cherundolo clocked a good 90 minutes, but Hannover 96 lost a heartbreaker 2-1 at newly-promoted LR Ahlen Friday night. The loss prevented Hannover from moving past Waldhof Mannheim, Borussia Mönchengladbach and SSV Reutlingen and still three points below a promotion position.

American midfielder Joe Enochs picked up his fifth yellow card and a one-game suspension, but also aided the deciding tally for 17th-placed VfL Osnabrück which, four points below a non-relegation position, won a thriller 2-1 at home against Greuther Fürth despite playing the final 28 minutes with 10 men.

Enochs will miss Saturday’s meeting at 18th- and last-placed FC Chemnitz. "I thought that my performance against Fürth was all right," he said. "I didn´t make any dumb mistakes and I set up the winning goal. Obviously, there is always room for improvement. I am working on making more things happen up front, but I am happy with my defensive work.

"We were unlucky not to get a few more goals in the first half, but nobody really expected us to win the game after one of our players got sent off. We are really coming together as a team and we can pretty much play with any team in this league. We just need to prove it on the field."

In the Third Division Regionalliga Nord (North), American Jacob Thomas' first-place Eintracht Braunschweig played a 1-1 draw with second-placed arch-rival VfB Lübeck to maintain its two-point lead. Respected German soccer publication Kicker rated Thomas as one of Braunschweig's best players even though he was substituted after 52 minutes for Braunschweig's leading scorer, Dirk Weetendorf.

American striker Conor Casey's and Borussia Dortmund’s amateurs are currently in a relegation place (17th) in the same division and had their Saturday home match against Prussen Münster called off because of an unplayable surface at the "Rote Erde" stadium. Instead, Dortmund, which needs to gain six points to avoid relegation, won a practice match 7-2 over fourth-division TSG Sprockhövel.

Americans David Wagner (SV Darmstadt 98), Grover Gibson, Tim Lawson and Brent Goulet (all SpVgg Elversberg), John van Buskirk and Marek Nowacki (both Sportfreunde Siegen), Carlo Espinosa (Karlsruhe Sport Club) and Taylor Twellman (1860 München Amateurs) all play in the Regionalliga Süd (South) which does not begins its second-half play until this coming weekend.

St. Pauli reported last week it had signed Cory Gibbs, but his agent Patrick McCabe says a contract for the graduating Brown University defender was tendered, but not signed. "We are continuing discussions and keeping our options open right now," McCabe said.

Keith Richardson, an American living in Vilseck, Germany, also contributed to this report..

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. Eric Lindon is an American living in Kaiserslautern where he runs an English-language e-mail discussion group for the local team's fans He can be e-mailed at lindon@k-town.de. Mark Flannery is an American teaching English in France and can be e-mailed at flan.overseas@wanadoo.fr.

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