McBride keeps Cottagers alive…Fulham 1, Everton 0

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Brian McBride entered today’s match looking to find the ever-elusive first goal since returning from long-term injury. Timmy Howard entered the match looking to extend Everton’s run of EPL form and let go of the heartbreak that was their loss in penalty kicks to Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup. Both definitely showed up to play. Problem was, McBride has support, Howard didn’t.

Everton played NOTHING like a team chasing a UEFA Champions League spot. Fulham played exactly how they should have – determined, gritty, and for their dear Premiership lives. McBride, however, has had the problem of not getting the service he needs to put goals away. Simon Davies remedied that today and delivered the pinpoint cross that McBride powered past an outstretched Howard for a 67th minute stunner.

Eddie Johnson has been playing well for the Cottagers. Unfortunately, when your fighting against relegation, goals and goals only are used as the measuring stick for how “well” one is playing. Johnson hasn’t found the net yet since coming over joining Clint Dempsey in the goal drought territory. All 5 Americans saw time in today’s game – Keller, McBride, and Johnson started – while Dempsey came in for McBride late and Bocanegra worked a solid part of the 2nd half.

The Cottagers have a stretch of four games that they could certainly win, but it will involve more performances like the one against Everton today. Next 4 games – @ Derby County, @ Newcastle, vs. Sunderland, @ Reading. Good performances away from home are hard to find…especially when Fulham has yet to win away. Hmmm…

What do you think their chances of avoiding relegation are? If relegated, which Americans will stick around in the English Championship? 

I’ll get more up on Olympic Qualifying and this weekend in the EPL tomorrow. If need more input on USA’s 1-0 win over Honduras yesterday, check out Jeff’s take and the live blog of the match, featuring a female streaker.

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La Liga: ‘Botellazo 2: The Return!’

Last season’s Betis v Sevilla game in the Copa del Rey was marred with a ‘botellazo’ (basically meaning a huge hit with a bottle) to the face of Juande Ramos. Ramos was knocked unconscious and spent the night in the hospital and the game was suspended.

Even my girlfriend, who actually knows more about Spanish Football then I ever dreamed possible, remembers the Juande Ramos incident from last year, saying ’30 rows up? Man that guy has great aim.’ I agree love, that’s the first thing that came to my mind.

In case you didn’t see it, look here.

Basically a manhunt ensued for the culprit who through the bottle and he was later caught and expelled for life from the Betis stadium. I remember seeing the grainy pictures for about 2 weeks every morning when I went to work out in the gym as they searched far and wide.

Well, tonight’s Betis v Athletic Bilbao game could be called ‘Botellazo 2: The Return’. During the game which was 2-1 in favor of the Basques, Athletic keeper Armando Riviero went behind the net to retrieve the ball for a goal kick. While walking back, a fan walked down to the edge of the stand and tossed what looked like a plastic bottle filled with water at the keeper. The bottle struck Armando in the right eye and he immediately fell to the ground wincing in pain. He was stretchered off and received several stitches in his eye.

Betis immediately made a statement on their Web Page following the game condemming the acts that took place. They identify the tosser (take it with both connotations) as C.P.R (which I find to be somewhat ironic) and say that he wasn’t a socio but he was just there for the game. They also thanked the fans who turned him in so quickly.

I agree that yes, some fans are stupid and ‘it can happen anywhere.’ But this is twice in as many years that it’s happened at the Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera.

I hear that the Rifle and Archery associations of Spain are looking to sign up some Betis fans for the Olympics this summer. Seriously, these fans are the most accurate bunch of football fans I have ever seen. Let these guys win a medal for god sakes. If bottle throwing was a sports, these guys would be the fucking world champs 10 times over.

Here is the translation on Goal.com for those of you who don’t ‘hablo español’ (cue Chris Farley voice).

Having Watched My First U.S. U-23 Game…

…and knowing said game isn’t over, here’s a couple things that come to mind:

– Tell me we don’t usually play so fitfully. A couple players have “it” – and I’ll get to that below – but the general vibe I’m getting is damned sloppy. So, tell me this is fatigue. Because, if it’s not, I fear for our future (not literally; all these players will age and, most, improve, but this was ugly…mo-fugly in some places).

I know Breton is live-blogging as we speak, so I’ll keep this brief. I didn’t watch the whole game, but, of the parts I watched, I’ll list the players who stood out – for good or for ill – below…starting with “for ill”…because I’m a bastard.

For Ill
Chad Barrett: I want to like you. Really. But how can I with all those leaden touches, mis-hit passes, and, on the one good chance I saw, limp shooting?

Sacha Kljestan: I understand you were the high-point of the Cuba game, so don’t take this personal, but…you’re passing to the guys in white, son. White jerseys. I’m only saying because you didn’t seem to know that going in.

Dominic Cervi: Not really bad, but shaky moments are shaky moments and you’ve had a couple. Maybe your central defenders played a role?

Sal Zizzo: Either he is tired tonight or 1) he’s playing miles out of position, or 2) he’s just not very good. I’m betting this is an off-night…or rather hoping. Clumsy feet, too static, mental mistakes….I could go on. Suffice to say it wasn’t his best night.

For Good
Orozco (first name, please?): I like him. He’s looking a little more composed than Patrick Ianni and comes forward smartly. Seeing how he grows seems a worthwhile experiment.

Charlie Davies: This cat got ripped after the Cuba game for diving, but he looked the most dangerous U.S. forward tonight. Too few clear chances for my liking, but he’s good enough and fast enough to make his own openings. Why isn’t he being paired with Altidore in a two-forward set-up? I mean if he loses the diving. I think we could do worse than try that experiment.

Dax McCarty: Second half sub, I know, but he’s looked the most composed and intelligent in midfield of all the U.S. players; it’s the composure that really stands out because, had he kept his shit tighter, I’d be listing Eddie Gaven here; he’s having good moments, but he’s spazzing just as often.

Kamani Hill: Good general anticipation, decent forays forward. A solid night and, for tonight, that’s enough.

Stuart Holden: All right, I’ll list him. He’s everywhere, and that’s good, but he’s a little ragged. It’s a marginal call, but he sneaks in.

That’s it. And I acknowledge that the gaps in my viewing may have caused me to put someone in the wrong spot or to omit someone else from one category or another. But, for purposes of this post, anyone not listed neither impressed or disappointed in particular.