McBride and Fulham’s away win too little too late?

Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey started for the Cottagers as they trounced a sad looking Reading squad. Steve Coppell’s side forgot how to attack – and you know that happened when Andre Bikey is the only one that can find a shot on net. Kasey Keller manned the nets as Roy Hodgson shattered his “only play 2 Americans at-a-time” mold. McBride’s work ethic paid off today finding chance after chance on net. Dempsey patrolled the midfield taking attention with him from Reading defenders and leaving Jimmy Bullard free to fire his long shot or two. Overall, a great day – but many wonder, is it too little, too late?? The Cottagers face a tough remaining schedule, as do Reading, and it looks likely that both (6 Americans) could be on their way down to the Championship. Bolton and Birmingham, however, are struggling down the stretch as well and if points can be taken in the last 4 games, there’s a shot. Either way, Roy Hodgson should not stay.

It was Keller and Hahnemann in net- two goalkeepers from the Pacific Northwest and apparently on the Seattle Sounders radar come 2009. Hahnemann looks the more likely decision and you could see why today. A 2-0 win for Fulham was modest, thanks to Hahnemann who got his hand to a number of chances that should have been clear goals. The Cottagers hit the post FOUR times – one being the most acrobatic volley I’ve ever seen out of the 35-year old McBride.  David Healy worked hard today, but it was sub Erik Nevland who took advantage of his chances – finishing a run down the right side in the 91st minute. Carlos Bocanegra came in for Dempsey with about 20 minutes to go and shut his marks down. Therefore, the Americans played well – but where in the world is Bobby Convey? He makes a big fuss about dooming Fulham to relegation, how it doesn’t really matter that there are other Americans on the team, and then he can’t make the damn bench…

Oh. Right. Why focus on the relegation battle? No real reason…except that it was Fulham’s first AWAY win in 34 – I repeat 34 – away games. That’s almost two full years of NOT winning away from home. Why the sudden change? The burst of energy, desire to win? Did Hodgson just say to go out and play…cause they didn’t look like Hodgson tactics today.

But once again, too little too late? They are now 4 points from safety, 4 games left, 2 away, and Liverpool’s looming. You do the math.

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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.

EPL Daily 2.29: The oft-forgotten impact of McBride

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The UK’s Daily Mail actually put out something today not rooted in rumor. A tribute – if you can call it that – to Brian McBride. As Fulham continues to slide, many wonder if it would have been any different had McBride been there the whole time. He’s always been their guy to right the ship and with tomorrow’s fixture vs. Manchester United looming, there’s really only one guy the Fulham faithful can look to for any sense of survival. It’s been that way for a while now and he’s put in a lot of work to become that go-to guy at the club level – for Everton, Preston North End, Columbus, Milwaukee Rampage of the old USISL, VfL Wolfsburg.

McBride has scored twice in the past 3 games against United, but Fulham has only produced 2 goals in the last 5 league games. The truth is, NO ONE on the team has the same dedication, bravery, and aggression that McBride exhibits. This is a guy who holds an impressive resume of injuries – shattered cheekbones, broken eye socket, metal plates, blood clots, and most recently the dislocated kneecap that put him out for a solid 6 months. These aren’t injuries sustained due to lack of fitness, etc. – they’re what Ray Hudson would call ‘gladiator’ injuries. We all remember the Daniele De Rossi challenge in the 2006 World Cup…McBride had this to say after that,

I’m fortunate in that I don’t have a lot of feeling in my face. My nerves are all dead from the surgery. You get hit and you get back up.

Without him, Fulham’s two other proclaimed target men have done nothing for the team – Diomansy Kamara and Shefki Kuqi – while the guy meant to finish all of the challenges that these target men win, has hit for nothing [David Healy]. Now with Dempsey, Johnson, and McBride all healthy and getting consistent playing time – it’s up to the American trio to pull a Wigan and find their way out of the depths.

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I’ll keep this from breaching man-crush territory and let you decide…

What was Brian McBride’s career moment?  I’d say this could be up there…

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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.