EPL Weekend Recap: the Reds burn themselves, Chelski tops Arsenal, and Darren Bent the super-sub

Saturday, March 22nd

Newcastle 2, Fulham 0

Roy Hodgson did arguably nothing to try for the win in this one. Basically, Jimmy Bullard had free reign in the midfield and his “amazing shot” was deemed as the way to score. Yet none of his long range efforts hit home. McBride and Johnson started up front, but no service was given to them – except the time where both of them missed a well-struck cross 10 yards from goal. Other than that, it was frustrating as hell to watch them try and post Eddie Johnson up on Taylor and then have EJ pass it back while the Magpie centrebacks pressured him. Occasionally, this would produce space on the wing – but Simon Davies picked a bad day to become invisible (especially after a great performance against Everton). Coupled with Sunderland’s win, Bolton’s tie – it’s not looking too good for the Americans. Newcastle didn’t look too dangerous either but when you have game changers like Michael Owen and Obi Martins – games like this are bound to go your way. Owen scored the second, while Mark Viduka – back after a small stint on the sidelines – struck early for Newcastle. 

Tottenham 2, Portsmouth 0

Two late goals from Darren Bent and Jamie O’Hara gave the Spurs . One could even say the Jermain Defoe decision really affected an otherwise even match-up. Utaka, Baros, and Kanu couldn’t make up for the absence of Jermain Defoe who has struck for 6 in 6 games since coming over to Pompey. His absence, however, was part of the loan deal originally agreed upon in order to get his transfer from White Hart Lane to Fratton Park done before the deadline. Berbatov and Robbie Keane gave Sol Campbell and his back four some problems, but couldn’t find the net. It wasn’t until Ramos inserted Darren Bent in the 70th minute (super-sub mode like Jermain Defoe no less) that the goal followed. Bent also had his hand in youngster Jamie O’Hara’s goal several minutes later.

Other scores:

Middlesbrough 1, Derby 0 – Eddie Lewis played all ninety, but Sanli Tuncay gave Boro the win.

Blackburn 3, Wigan 1 – Two red cards – Samba for B’burn and Palacios for Wigan – headlined a physical performance. When Santa Cruz is on brace form though, the Rovers are really hard to beat. Brad Friedel did his part on the defensive end yet again.

Sunderland 1, Aston Villa 0 – The big upset of the weekend. Thanks to Michael Chopra’s 83rd minute winner, the Black Cats received some much needed breathing room.

Everton 1, West Ham United 1 – Yakubu’s early goal was countered a late Dean Ashton goal that Timmy Howard could do nothing about. Jonathan Spector came on in the 82nd after returning from successfully leading the US U-23s to an Olympic berth.

Reading 2, Birmingham 1 – A huge step-up from an unlikely hero allowed the Royals to grab three against a relegation foe. Cameroonian Andre Bikey captained an effective back four and also scored the brace that gave Reading the win. Valued at $30 million, Mauro Zarate grabbed the consolation goal for the Blues, who looked pretty disorganized. Marcus Hahnemann did his duty, while Bobby Convey didn’t dress. Stephen Hunt kept his stock rising heading into the offseason with another inspired performance on the wings.

Bolton 0, Manchester City 0 – A point is a point right now for the Wanderers and even though Gary Megson said Nicolas Anelka’s absence won’t matter in this relegation battle, they could have used the now Chelsea man on Saturday. One good sign for Bolton was that they dictated the run of play, but their remaining fixtures put them in dark territory the rest of the way. 

Sunday, March 23rd

Manchester United 3, Liverpool 0

Liverpool was in it – they were getting crushed on shots attempted, etc, but they were still in it to say the least. That is until…Javier Maschareno bitched himself out of the game. The Argentinian decided to continue protest of a call past the boiling point of the head ref while he was already carrying a card to his name. None of his teammates decided to intervene and tell the man to shut his trap. Right before half time, Mascherano was sent off and United took control of the game. The Reds fought, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani both broke through with 10 minutes to go and the game was put out of reach. Wes Brown scored the first goal for United. Can anyone stop Ronaldo from scoring?

Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1

Didier the decider. Two late goals from the Ivorian trounced an earlier go-ahead goal by Arsenal’s fullback Bacary Sagna. Sagna headed home a Cesc Fabregas corner and his first goal ever for the Gunners to push ahead 10 minutes into the second half, but Drogba came through after surviving a frustrating first half. Partly thanks to Lampard and Joe Cole’s endeavors in the midfield, Drogba was given the firm opportunity to lift the spirits of Chelsea’s faithful past their growing disdain for Avram Grant’s tactics and style of play. The Blues have moved into second now, trailing Manchester United by 5 points – making that eventual derby a BIG one. 

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Michael Bradley scores 2 more, brings total to 18!

Bradley brings his tally for the season up to 18 overall, 16 in the Eredivisie. His goals started and finished Heerenveen’s scoring and provided Heerenveen with a huge 3 points as the season begins to wind down. The win gives the Frisians momentum heading into next week’s clash versus Ajax and possession of a three game win streak. Bradley hasn’t just surpassed DaMarcus Beasley and Eric Wynalda for most goals in a season for a Yank Abroad. He has destroyed it with several games still to go. The three points puts them up and tied for fourth and six points from 2nd. Between Bradley and the other youth phenom on the team, Miralem Sulejmani, have really made names for themselves this year. It’ll be interesting to see where they end up in the summer. For Bradley, a move is expected but Sulejmani could stay another year or so.

Check out his second goal – an acrobatic sidekick:

Yanks Abroad: Bradley with his 17th! Pickens, Szetela, etc.

Michael Bradley didn’t let his US/Mexico disappearance get to him and continued his scoring ways for Heerenveen. This time, the 20 year old halted PSV’s dominance of the Frisians with a 52nd minute equalizer. It’s 17th goal overall, 13th in Eredivisie play. See below…

Danny Szetela – newly loaned out to Brescia of the Serie B – looked decent in the last 10 minutes of a 4-2 Brescia comeback win.

Oguchi Onyewu played all 90 minutes in a Standard Liege shutout of Rosealare. Unfortunately, Liege couldn’t find any offensive production either. 0-0 tie.

Not one American started for Fulhamerica in a 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough. Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey did get in. Dempsey after the break, McBride with 30 minutes to go. Kasey Keller sat on the bench, but is back and ready for selection. Eddie Johnson apparently got into a reserve game a couple days ago and scored in a 3-0 win.

Timmy Howard won the battle of the American goalies as Everton beat Marcus Hahnemann‘s Reading 1-0 and put them into the relegation zone. Bobby Convey was not selected.

Benny Feilhaber was not selected for Derby’s ass-whooping at the hands of Tottenham. Eddie Lewis is out injured.

Jonathan Spector was a last-minute sub for West Ham United in their 1-1 tie with Birmingham City.

Johann Smith
wasn’t selected for Bolton’s 1-0 loss to Portsmouth.

Matt Pickens was on the bench for QPR’s 3-2 triumph over Southampton. He didn’t play.

Jay DeMerit
was not in the line-up for Watford’s 2-1 win over Ipswich.

Fullback Zak Whitbread went all 90 minutes for Millwall in a 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forest.

Jemal Johnson got on for the last 5 minutes in a MK Dons’ 1-1 tie with Rotherham.

Steve Cherundolo started at fullback in Hannover 96’s 2-2 tie with Karlsruhe. Sal Zizzo was on the bench, but didn’t see any time.

Bryan Arguez
wasn’t selected for Hertha Berlin’s squad and Preston Zimmerman didn’t make the Hamburg squad.

Greg Dalby
wasn’t selected for Charleroi’s game versus Sint Truiden.

Michael Bradley: This is officially silly…

A 7-0 shutout/romp of Vitesse Arnhem continues Heerenveen’s ascent to the top.

And Michael Bradley continues his scoring streak. Once I saw that scoreline, I half expected to see him score all 7. Regardless, Bradley has now upped his total to 16 on the year, 11 in the Eredivisie. His 12th moves him up to 6th on the scoring charts in Holland and makes it 6 goals in his last 5 games. Heerenveen is on a 4 game tear, having outscored their opponents 17-1.

It was Bradley’s ability to rip a long shot that surfaced this time around – and if he wasn’t taken off with 30 minutes to go. He probably could have grabbed one or two more. His replacement Roy Beerens tallied two of his own in the last 30 minutes. The 7-0 slaughter pushes the Frisians into second place in the Eredivisie. I think this kid might lead them to a title – if it weren’t for the fact PSV has a 9 point lead with 11 games to go.

Danny Szetela loaned out to Brescia

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Steve Goff at the Washington Post has thrown this little teaser in his early evening round-up. It apparently is with an option to buy. Haven’t seen it anywhere else yet. Not even in the Italian press.
Szetela originally turned down an August offer from Brescia to sign for Racing Santander. With his Santander first-team hopes pretty remote, Serie B is not a bad destination for the midfielder. Even better, the Biancoazzurri are sitting in 6th place with close proximity to the leaders and promotion into Serie A. All with around 20 games to go.

He’s going to shine here. I have no doubt about it. Not only that, he gets to play some pretty damn good players – former Italian internationals Alessio Tacchinardi and Fabio Bazzani and 19 year old Hungarian starlet Adam Vass.

He’s going to prove himself in Italy.

Michael Bradley scores 2 more, attracts Blackburn, in Heerenveen’s 3-0 win over De Graafschaap

Bradley is now up to 15 total for the season and 11 in the league. Now I’m just baffled. This is amazing. I understand Heerenveen is a team that scores a LOT of goals all the while conceding a lot too…but Bradley has now scored 5 goals in his last 4 appearances, and 8 in his last 8.

Could this push a big European club like HSV to act sooner rather than later???? The new suitor, however, is Blackburn of the EPL. Get him in the door Friedel (although I don’t think he’ll need any help). 

Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley with Number 13 and a ticket to Hamburg?

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Most recent goal vs. VVV Venlo – match recap

It’s Bradley’s 13th in all competitions (to go with 3 assists), 9th in the Eredivisie which puts the young 20-year old at 10th on the Eredivise scoring charts and only two goals less than Afonso Alves who is awaiting a transfer to the EPL. Between Bradley, Miralem Sulejmani, and Daniel Pranjic Heerenveen has a young core that is gaining suitors with each and every game. The Frisians will next play De Graafschaap this coming Saturday. Bradley will look to add to his total and Heerenveen’s second best offense in the league against yet another Eredivisie relegation battler.

Apparently, his 9 league goals tie both Eric Wynalda (Saarbruecken and Brian McBride (Fulham) for most goals for an American in a European league. More impressively, however, his overall total of 13 surpassed McBride and DaMarcus Beasley (when he was with PSV Eindhoven) for most goals scored by an American in all competitions. Not bad for a 20-year old.

Michael Bradley and Heerenveen have decisions to make, however, as Bradley – whose contract expires in the Summer of 2009 – has loosely indicated that he wouldn’t mind testing the waters. Heerenveen – in an effort to save face and forture – thinks that if that is the case, they would like to cash in on his rising stock instead of getting nothing for a free transfer. Apparently, the leading suitor is HSV (Benny Feilhaber’s former digs, and where Preston Zimmerman is right now) who reportedly is ready to offer the club a multi-million dollar deal for Bradley. Spox.com in Germany goes on to dub him the possible replacement for Rafael Van der Vaart…wow.  Van der Vaart is possibly on his way out of the Bundesliga club to Turin to link up with Juventus.

We will keep you updated.

EDIT: Great article from Big Apple Soccer on Michael Bradley’s intentions.