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Friedel is brilliant as Blackburn wins and draws; Stewart’s goal salvages draw; Reyna, Moore injured.

By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
Christopher Courtney (in Germany)
Willy Calderon (in England)
Keith Richardson (in Germany)
Mark Flannery (in France)
and Robert B. Lane, Jr. (in Spain)
SoccerTimes

(Monday, March 19, 2001) -- Few Americans were available for action in Europe the past week, but one who was very much in evidence was goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

In an up and down week for Blackburn Rovers in England’s first division, Friedel tu rned in two magnificent outings. On Wednesday, Rovers blanked Birmingham City 2-0 which moved them into second-place tie with Bolton Wanderers with its attending automatic promotion to the Premier League. The prosperity was short-lived after Saturday’s sub-par effort which resulted in a 1-1 draw at home with Wimbledon, dropping Rovers two points behind victorious Bolton.

Friedel was strong against Birmingham, but was nothing short of brilliant against Wimbledon.

Birmingham started well and Friedel was forced to make three good saves in the first 20 minutes. City seemed deflated after that and Rovers took control by scoring just before intermission.

Against Wimbledon, Rovers suffered a letdown, but Friedel did not. He made an outstanding save in the 12th minute when an unmarked Michael Hughes took a pass at the six-yard line and slammed it on goal only to watch Friedel dive full-length and put the ball over the crossbar.

After Jason Euell put the visitors ahead 1-0 in the 50th minute, Friedel kept Rovers in the match with pectacular saves against Patrick Agyemang and Andy Roberts, allowing Blackburn to tie the game in the 72nd minute

Blackburn, with one loss in its last 17 matches, has two matches in hand on Bolton.

American-born 19-year-old Paul Rachubka found himself thrust into the world spotlight, starting in goal in a 2-0 decision over Leicester City.

French international Fabien Barthez pulled a thigh muscle during warmups prior to the match, leading to Rachubka’s opportunity. He didn’t have much to do with Leicester playing strictly defensively, a strategy that failed when United scored twice in the closing two minutes.

With a Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich approaching and backup keeper Raimond Van der Gouw recovering from a knee operation, United is scrambling to find a starter. If Barthez doesn't heal quickly, Rachubka stands to make a dramatic appearance against Bayern Munich.

Rachubka is not eligible for the U.S. national team because he played for England in the last under-20 world championship. His parents are British.

American midfielder Eddie Lewis played a strong match for Fulham’s reserves, assisting on two goals with accurate passes in a 4-0 victory over Bournemouth. Lewis did not dress for first team’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace match and appears headed out with Fulham preparing for its promotion to Premier League with acquisition of high-priced talent.


In the Netherlands, United States midfielder Earnie Stewart netted a critical injury-time goal for NAC Breda which salvaged a 1-1 home draw against visiting Heerenveen, who had taken the lead in the 89th minute.

Stewart notched his fourth goal of the season in the 93rd minute.


In Spain, Rayo Vallecano continued to slump with a 2-0 setback to Ovido. In the sixth minute, Ovido’s Ivan Ania floated a corner into the Rayo area and Frenchman Frederic Danjou, completely unmarked, powered the ball past screened American keeper Kasey Keller.

Keller kept Rayo in the match with a fine save on Oli Alvarez and received help from his goalpost on Oli’s drive. But the match was put out of reach when Oli made it 2-0 in the 65th minute after he was sent through alone on Keller off a fine pass from Ivan Ania.

Two late saves by Keller prevented the final result from becoming worse.

Rayo’s Sunday letdown probably reflected its disappointment after being eliminated from the UEFA Cup quarterfinals. On Wednesday, Rayo defeated Alaves 2-1 on a last minute-penalty kick in the second leg of a series it lost 4-2. Julen Lopetegui was in goal, not Keller.

In the Spanish first division, Racing de Ferrol, with American striker Ante Razov having an off-day, went down to Universidad de Las Palmas 2-1.

In the first half, Razov was called for a handball in the area and the resultant penalty kick put Las Palmas ahead. Then in the second half, Razov took a penalty kick for Racing, but had it saved. He was substituted for in the 73rd minute.


In France, American David Regis was solid on the left side of a three-man defense for Metz which drew with Lens 1-1. The teams exchanged goals within a two-minute span midway through the first half and the final 30 minutes were a defensive struggle.

By picking up a point, Metz remained three points above the relegation zone, but still in obvious danger.


In Germany, American Steve Cherundolo turned in his best game of the season with a strong 90 minutes at left midfield for Hannover 96 which still lost 2-0 to Stuttgarter Kickers. Hannover’s remained in eighth place in the Second Bundesliga.

VFL Osnabruck, led by American defensive midfielder Joe Enochs is still trying to fight its way out of the drop zone in the Second Bundesliga, but lost 2-0 to struggling Mainz before 6,000.

In the German third division, Indiana University product John Van Buskirk entered in the second half for Sportfreunde Siegen, which was trailing 1-0, and struck for goals in the 48th and 89th minutes goals and a 2-1 victory.

Van Buskirk’s third multi-goal game of the season earned him his third "Man of the Match designation and second inclusion on Kicker’s "Team of the Week this season.

American striker Jacob Thomas started and went the distance in Eintract Braunschweig’s 1-1 draw with Sachsen Leipzig. His team is now in fourth place but only two points from regaining a spot in the promotion zone.

Last week, SV 07 Elversberg played most of the match with nine men, causing coach Neale Marmon to cancel practice until Tuesday because of exhaustion. This week, Elversberg fell 2-1 to Burghausen with American Grover Gibson ejected with a red card in the 78th minute for a hard foul. Americans Tim Lawson and Brent Goulet remain sidelined by injury.

Gibson is attracting the interest of at least one Second Bundesliga club and perhaps one in the Bundesliga club. His contract expires after this season.

Former U.S. national-team midfielder Michael Mason started again for Carl Zeiss Jena and went the distance in a 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich reserves.

American Taylor Twellman came on as a reserve for 1860 Munich reserves who lost 3-1 to promotion candidate Trier.

Finanacial woes have not prevented Darmstadt 98 from edging toward the promotion zone. Captain David Wagner, a former U.S. national played a solid 90 minutes in a 3-2 win over SC Pfullendorf.

In the German fourth division, American Brian Doherty came in as a substitute in SC Feucht’s 2-0 win over Weiden.

Long Island native Carlo Espinosa played 90 minutes in the Karlsruhe reserves’ 4-3 win over the Stuttgart Kickers reserves.


In Croatia’s first division, Cakovec, with American striker Eric Kuster, lost 3-0 to Dinamo Croatia.


In Switzerland’s first division, American Melchior Arnold, returning from injury, came on in the 87th minute and scored in injury time to cap FC Lucerne’s 3-0 victory over Aarau. Lucerne is battling through a playoff system to stay in the first division.


American-born goalkeeper Jonny Walker started in goal for Catolica, which was soundly beaten 4-1 by O’Higgins in the Chilean First Division. It was Walker’s fourth start for the mid-table Catolica and, according to the Chilean media,he did not have a strong match after good showings the past few outings.

He gave up a soft goal early in the second half with the match scoreless, and then O' Higgins added three more unanswered goals, two while playing a man down.

Riding the Pines

Midfielder Jovan Kirovski (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal) - Did not dress for 2-2 draw with Porto. He made a midweek trip to England to talk to sign with a British agent and to meet with one of several teams who have expressed an interest in him. It is not clear if he is trying to make a move before next week’s transfer deadline, or whether he is looking to next season.

Forward Joe-Max Moore (Everton, England) -- With a strained calf, was one of six injured Everton front-liners who did not dress for 1-0 loss to Southampton. He has been scratched from U.S. March 28 World Cup qualifier in Honduras.

Defender Gregg Berhalter (Crystal Palace, England) - Again watched from bench in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Fulham.

Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (Fulham, England) -- Was in his usual spot on the bench for 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Midfielder Claudio Reyna (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland) - Continues to be bothered by the groin pull suffered February 28 and was unable to play in a much-needed 2-1 triumph over Motherwell. The win gave new hope to the struggling club for a second-place league finish and qualification for next season’s Champions league.

Midfielder John O’Brien (Ajax, Netherlands) -- Continues trying to win back his place on starting side, a task made more difficult with the positive results by the current young team such as 9-0 rout of Rotterdam on Sunday.

Midfielder\defender Tony Sanneh (Hertha Berlin, Germany) - Since signing a contract to play with Nuernberg next season, is probably a memory at Hertha. German coaches do not have a history of using players who are leaving and Sanneh did not play in a 3-0 overwhelming loss on the road to Cottbus.

Midfielder Frankie Hedjuk (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) - Did not play in 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund.

Forward Landon Donovan, (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) - With U.S. under-20 national team for world championship qualifying in Trinidad & Tobago.

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. Robert B. Lane, Jr., is an American residing in Barcelona from where he follows Spanish soccer. He can be e-mailed at lanedogg@excite.com.

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