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Americans Abroad

Razov faces suspension after throwing punch; elbow knocks Twellman out cold.

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

(Tuesday, February 20, 2001) -- United States striker Ante Razov is facing suspension in Spain after punching an opponent and being ejected in the final minutes of Racing de Ferrol’s 2-0 loss to El Elche.

Razov’s action was apparently precipitated by a hard tackle.

In the 83rd minute, Razov was fouled and knocked to the ground, and retaliated with a punch. He was immediately shown a red card for the official offense of "striking an opponent in the face with its hand, both players being on the ground and the stopped game," according to game officials.

It is likely Razov will be suspended for at least two matches by the Spanish League’s Competition Committee. Since he was going to miss the next two Racing matches because of his call-up to the U.S. national team for the February 28 World Cup qualifier against Mexico, he might not miss any club matches.

Razov started off strongly, narrowly missing goals on several occasions in the first half with his best chance coming in the 20th minute when his hard shot off an excellent pass from teammate Fran was narrowly tipped over the bar by Elche’s Russian goalkeeper.

Racing was shut down almost completely in the second half as the match became more physical.

U.S. keeper Kasey Keller logged a strong effort for Rayo Vallecano which earned a much-needed road point with a 1-1 draw with Celta Vigo. In the first 20 minutes, Keller made point-blank saves on both Juanfran Garcia and Alexander Mostovoi.

He was not at fault on a corner kick when a glaring Rayo defensive error left Vigo defender Juanfran completely unmarked six yards out for an easy goal to tie the score at 1-1.

In the second half, Keller and his defense held up despite enormous pressure. In the final minutes, Vigo striker Catanha was sent in alone on Keller, but the keeper stripped the ball off the attacker’s foot. Rayo sits in seventh place, but within striking distance of sixth and a chance to play in European competition again next year.

On Thursday, Keller did not play for Rayo which captured its opening UEFA Cup fourth-round match against Bordeaux 4-1.

In Germany, young American striker Taylor Twellman had a great week for the 1860 Munich reserves. We only hope the U.S. Olympian and former University of Maryland attacker can remember it.

Courted by Major League Soccer before signing with 1860 Munich, Twellman scored the only goal of a 1-0 decision over MLS’s Columbus Crew which is training in Bavaria.

Twellman headed a corner kick inside the near post in the 15th minute. Shortly before halftime, however, Twellman was knocked unconscious by Crew defender Shiek Sidy Ba who threw an elbow into the back of Twellman’s head as the two competed for a ball in the air. Twellman was taken to a nearby hospital and later released with a mild concussion.

In a friendly earlier in the week, Twellman scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Slask Wroclaw of Poland’s first division.

Despite a major shakeup promised by the 1860 administration, Twellman still has a way to go before he gets a shot at the first team.

In an oddity, two American keepers started the 1-1 English FA Cup fourth-round draw this weekend between Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers. Brad Friedel was in goal for Blackburn Rovers, short-term replacement Jurgen Sommer for Bolton.

Sommer, who was added to Bolton’s roster especially for the match after the first two keepers went down to injury and suspension, was caught out of position on Rovers first shot in the opening moments, but was saved when the ball was cleared off the line by a defender. He settled down and made fine saves on three separate shots by Matt Jensen.

Friedel continued his strong play, but he too was saved when a defender took a sure goal off the line.

Blackburn got into trouble when captain Garry Flitcroft was sent off for a second yellow card. With Bolton pressing the attack, Friedel was forced to make several saves including a spectacular effort on a 20-yard rocket from Gareth Farrelly.

At about the half-hour mark, Sommer went down hard and injured his thigh. As Bolton’s only keeper, he could not come out and was limping badly when David Dunn’s free kick eluded him in the 42th minute for Rovers’ only goal.

Playing a man up, Bolton pressed forward after intermission, Friedel was beaten from close range, to be saved by defender Henning Berg. Berg’s clearance, however, went directly to Bolton sharpshooter Michael Ricketts, for an easy goal.

Bolton continued to attack, but Friedel made two more good saves to preserve the draw and force a replay at Blackburn on March 7.

In Scotland, U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna’s brilliant pass through two defenders to Barry Ferguson set up a surprisingly difficult 3-2 decision over first-division (second tier) Ross County suspension in a fourth-round Scottish Cup (not to be confused with the League Cup).

Reyna, who was suspended for one match for receiving two red cards and an officials’ citation in a recent Cup match against Celtic, played well, helping Rangers to a 2-0 advantage that shockingly disappeared.

No Americans played in the German Bundesliga this week. Neither midfielder Frankie Hejduk nor striker Landon Donovan dressed for Bayter Leverkusen which lost to relegation-zone dweller Hansa Rostock 2-1.

Hertha Berlin beat VFB Stuttgart 1-0 to remain in fifth place. U.S. midfielder Tony Sanneh warmed up in the 70th minute, but when Michael Preetz struck for winner seven minutes later, Sanneh returned to the bench for Hertha which used no subs.

In the German Second Bundesliga, American midfielder Joe Enochs and VFL Osnabruck drew 2-2- with FC Saarbrucken.

Osnabruck, 3-0-2 record since the midseason mark, used the point to climb one spot to 15th place, just two points from escaping relegation territory.

The north Germany side seemed to have the upper hand with a 2-1 lead and playing a man up after Saarbrucken had one player ejected in the 59th minute, and another in the 85th. A victory would have moved Osnabruck beyond the relegation zone, but, with nine men, Saarbrucken earned a penalty kick and converted in the waning moment for the tie.

U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo played left midfield for Hannover 96 in a 2-1 setback to Waldhof Mannheim. Tied 1-1, Hannover eschewed playing for a draw on the road, pushing forward, only to be victimized on a counterattack for the winning goal in the second half

Cherundolo saved his team from further indignity when he cleared a ball from a yard in front of his goal line after a shot had beaten keeper Jorg Sievers.

In a post-game interview Deutsche Sports Network, Cherundolo expressed disappointment with the result proficiently in German.

Cherundolo was originally called to join the U.S. national team for next week’s World Cup qualifier with Mexico, but the club asked to keep Cherundolo because of current depth problems and his importance to the side. Coach Horst Ehrmantraut moved Cherundolo from right back to left midfield because, the club said, Cherundolo is the only player who can move into that position and perform well.

"That is my role. Whatever they need, I’m expected to do," Cherundolo told SoccerTimes.

Next Monday, the Second Bundesliga features a nationally-televised match between Enoch’s Osnabruck and Cherundolo’s Hannover 96. Both Americans are expected to start.

While the German Regionalliga (D3) South is still a week away from resuming, one makeup game was played Friday night featuring two American players. Darmstadt 98 captain and striker David Wagner and Sportfreunde Siegen forward John Van Buskirk both kept the opposing keepers busy.

While both launched dangerous shots on goal and helped set up numerous chances, the game’s only goal came in the 50th minute from Darmstadt’s Freitas for a 1-0 win.

Eintract Braunschweig fell out of first place in D3 North following a 2-2 draw at German Cup finalist 1FC Union Berlin. American striker Jacob Thomas of Austin, Tex., entered for Braunschweig in the second half with his team leading 2-0.

Braunschweig dropped to second place, but remains positioned for promotion.

"It’s a lot of hard work and I’m really bearing down here to work on my game," said Thomas, who returned to Germany this season after a two-year hiatus. "The knee injury and arthroscopic surgery put me out for awhile, but since then I’ve had only four days off in the past three months and the training is starting to pay off."

The former Austin Lonestar and his wife recently had their first child, a son named Elias.

After receiving a red card in his last match, Borussia Dortmund reserve striker Conor Casey sat out this week’s 1-1 draw with the Werder Bremen reserves.

Californian John Cummings is currently training with D3 South leader Karlsruher SC, a team that employs American Carlo Espinosa on its first team. Cummings was offered the trial on the recommendation of former German star Juergen Klinsmann, but it is not yet clear if he has been offered a contract.

American Brian Doherty and SC Feucht side are riding on top of the table in the Bayernliga (fourth division), looking for promotion to the D3 South.

A significant number of American youth players have surfaced on European youth teams. They are Erik Violante at Paris Saint Germain in France, Joe Vide of 1860 Munich, Cody Anderson of Lazio Roma, Dimi Colon of VFB Stuttgart and Raul Palomares at 1FC Kaiserslautern.

In England, U.S. defender Gregg Berhalter joined Crystal Place of the first division for the remainder of the season on a "non-contract" basis. Palace manager Alan Smith said he will offer a permanent contractual if Berhalter impressed in match play.

The news is surprising because after the recent U.S. match against Colombia in Miami, Berhalter returned to his home in New Jersey to await the World Cup qualifier against Mexico next week. Then Palace called and he joined training and he sat on the substitutes bench Saturday against Norwich. He might see a few minutes of action in Palace’s midweek match before he returning to Columbus, Ohio, for the Mexico match.

Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Eddie Lewis did not dress for Fulham, which sits atop the first division and defeated Nottingham Forest 1-0..

U.S. midfielder Ben Olsen played had a sub-par first half for Forest, but did much better after intermission, including setting up Chris Bart-Williams for a shot off the crossbar in the final seconds.

Preston North End did not play this weekend, but U.S. striker Brian McBride remained at the center of attention with manager Davie Moyes reportedly offering MLS $1.1 million for his contract, with the American league countering with $2.3 million, a price probably well out of Preston’s range.

Even if the club could pay the price, McBride probably does not want to leave Columbus. "It complicated," McBride said recently while with the U.S. national team in Miami. "I don’t think things will ever work out and I’ll go over there permanently. I’m really enjoying myself and having fun, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back in Columbus on opening day."

Erstwhile Los Angeles Galaxy striker Cobi Jones saw his short trial with Ipswich Town of the Premier League end with a club spokesman saying Jones "will not be offered a contract at the present time."

Jones returned to the U.S. national team for next week’s qualifier against Mexico.

In the Netherlands, American midfielder John O’Brien did not dress for Ajax and a 3-0 defeat of Fortuna Sittard, but he is due to play a reserve match this week. If he goes the full 90 minutes, he could find himself at least on the reserves bench with the full team next weekend for the first time since injuring a heel in the Summer Olympics.

U.S. midfielder Earnie Stewart played the second half for NAC Breda which lost 2-1 in a showdown with traditional rival PSV Eindhoven.

Stewart did not start because NAC played an extra defender trying to slow down the league leader. While PSV was held off the scoreboard, the NAC offense was clearly suffering precipitating Stewart’s entrance.

In France, American David Regis went the full 90 at left back for Metz which came up on the short end 3-2 with Troyes. The turning point came in the 65th minute when Metz went down a man to a second yellow card. They tried to hang on, with Regis making several defensive stops in the final 15 minutes, allowing Troyes to net the winner a minute from the end.

Metz is in danger of relegation, in 16th place out of 18 teams, and probably five points from safety.

In Portugal, U.S. midfielder Jovan Kirovski is reportedly suffering from a slight muscle pull, a training injury, and did not dress for fifth-place Sporting Lisbon which continued its downward spiral with a 3-1 loss to Alverca.

In Switzerland’s first division, FC Lucerne and American midfielder Melchior Arnold returned from their one month training camp in Venezuela. Still recovering from jaw surgery, Arnold was forced to wear a kick-boxing face mask when in action. Lucerne resumes play next weekend.

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. Keith Richardson is an American living in Vilseck, Germany where he follows Americans playing in Germany. He can be e-mailed at footyfan1@yahoo.com. Mark Flannery is an American teaching English in France and can be e-mailed at flan.overseas@wanadoo.fr.

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