U.S. Men's schedule
Reyna returns and nearly helps slumping Sunderland avoid 1-0 setback at home to Middlesbrough.By Gary Davidson
(Wednesday, January 30, 2002) -- United States midfielder Claudio Reyna returned to the Sunderland lineup following a four-week injury absence yesterday and nearly scored in a 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough in England’s Premier League.
Reyna, who suffered a bone bruise and stretched ligaments in his left ankle from a tackle from defender Lee Hendrie in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, was expected to be out three-to-six weeks. U.S. coach Bruce Arena had hoped Reyna would be available to play for his national team in Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal against El Salvador, but his captain was not ready. Still, Reyna’s recovery was considered quick.
Reyna was denied when his low shot from the edge of the penalty area was turned away by a stunning save by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Crossley in the 17th minute. Noel Whelan had given Middlesbrough a 1-0 advantage three minutes earlier.
Sunderland, which played the final 38 minutes with 10 men after Gianluca Festa received a red card, is in 11th place at 7-10-7 with 28 points. Middlebrough, which eliminated Manchester United 2-0 from the FA Cup fourth round Saturday, stands 14th at 7-11-5 with 26 points.
Sunderland’s fourth defeat in six outings had the home fans demanding the sacking of manager Peter Reid.
Tonight, U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel and his Blackburn Rovers teammates had a game to forget in a controversial 3-2 setback at home to Arsenal though the American could not be directly faulted for any of the three goals he allowed.
After Rovers’s striker Matt Jansen scored in the 31st and 39th minutes to erase a two-goal deficit, Dennis Bergkamp found net for a second time in the 75th minute to win for Arsenal.
The only problem was it appeared to many that before his goal, Bergkamp had gotten free by striking Rovers’ Swedish defender Nils-Eric Johansson in the face. Arsenal had already been reduced to 10 men when Oleg Luzhny was sent off with his second yellow card in the 58th minute. Blackburn manager Graeme Souness thought Bergkamp should have been shown a red card, too.
"There’s now way Bergkamp should have been on the pitch. He smacked my player in the mouth," he said.
Robert Pires started the winning sequence by slipping past Garry Flitcroft before making a perfect past to Bergkamp to beat Friedel with his left foot.
In the 14th minute, Pires fed Sylvain Wiltord whose cross into the box went to defender Martin Taylor for what appeared to be an easy clear. Instead, he just deflected it right to Bergkamp who finished cleanly with his left foot.
Seven minutes later, the Rovers’ defense was caught napping when Pires chipped a long ball over a flat defense for Thierry Henry to take in stride. From a difficult angle, he curled a low shot past Friedel into the corner of the net.
Blackburn (6-11-7, 25 points) finds itself officially in relegation territory, tied with Bolton (5-9-10) for the 17th place with the resident of 18th being demoted.
A series of injuries, including one to Paul Gascoigne, had American striker Joe-Max
Moore starting in the midfield and going the distance for Everton (7-10-7, 28 points)
which played a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa tonight.
Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes managing editor and can be e-mailed at
Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes managing editor and can be e-mailed at email@example.com.