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.

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.

EPL: Arsenal falls to M’Boro…ew but Liverpool follows suit

STANDINGS 

Saturday, December 8th

Portsmouth 3, Aston Villa 1

Pompey is starting to look like the squad I had originally predicted at the beginning of the year. Both Sulley Muntari and Niko Kranjcar have almost full adapted to EPL play and are now driving that midfield to productivity. It was Muntari’s day though scoring two in the 40th and 61st minute and putting the game out of the Villans reach.

Manchester United 4, Derby County 1

Poor Derby. A thorough out-classing – even though the Rams kept Man Yoo from scoring for a good half. Ryan Giggs opened the can of whoop-ass right before half-time. Derby thought they would walk in at half with only a 1-0 deficit – but Tevez pounced in injury time, making it 2-0. Tevez got his second in the 60th and could have added a third at the end, but Ronaldo was so incensed with his upending in the box that he felt his pain deserved a PK conversion. There was an upside to Derby’s down-trodden day – Giles Barnes – the young 18 year old was the only thing remotely threatening to Man U’s backline of Vidic and Ferdinand.

Chelsea 2, Sunderland 0

The Black Cats never really woke up. Despite the two goals, no real action to this game. Shevchenko – thanks to the Drogba injury – got his chance on net and put it in but still looked well-off from old AC Milan days. Joe Cole did look pretty good though. He’s like a Michael Owen – you get excited that he’s on the field, start to follow him – and then he’s out for two months with a torn quad or something. Regardless, he was industrious and crafty as ever.

Everton 3, Fulham 0

This is an example of having the playmaker and target man in perfect synergy. Tim Cahill/Mikel Arteta powered the machine that is Yakubu to a classy hat-trick. Clint Dempsey was ineffective and taken off early in the second half, but by then, it seemed nothing was sparking the Cottagers to action. Timmy Howard had little to do but captain the back with Joseph Yobo back in the mix. Bocanegra never got on.

Reading 3, Liverpool 1

Stephen Hunt’s penalty in the 17th minute really hurt the pride of the Reds. Either that, or the Reds just figured the scoreline would take care of itself as missed chances and defensive lapses led to Reading’s inflated offensive talent. Steven Gerrard equalized less than 10 minutes later, but the Reds never connected. In the second half, it was Kevin Doyle and James Harper who converted their chances (Harper being fed by the improving Bobby Convey) making it 3-1. In Rafa Benitez’s defense, the game was a little suspect in the refereeing end but the Liverpool had PLENTY of chances that came close, but never snuck across Marcus Hahnemann’s goalline.

Newcastle 2, Birmingham 1

A much-needed win for the Magpies. Obafemi Martins’ converted a 37th minute penalty to snuff out an opening minutes lead grabbed by Birmingham’s Cameron Jerome. The Nigerian – normally a shoe-in for last minute heroics – took the backseat to Senegal-international Habib Beye who took home the glory and his first Newcastle goal in the 90th minute. Newcastle deserved the win, no doubt, but this underperformance curse really needs to end – it’s getting old.  

Sunday, December 9th

Middlesbrough 2, Arsenal 1

It all started with a 4th minute Stewart Downing PK conversion after a clumsy Kolo Toure challenge in the box on former Gunner Jeremie Aliadiere. Arsenal looked borderline lost without their midfield general Cesc Fabregas – oft-intercepted passes, possessional mishaps, positional confusion – it wasn’t the Arsenal team we’re used to. Sanli Tuncay wrapped it up with a 74th minute strike. Tomas Rosicky pulled one back in the waning moments, but nothing could spring the Gunners into urgent offensive mode. 

Bolton 4, Wigan 1

Certainly could be one of those games where Bolton wasted all of their offensive power on one game instead of spreading it out evenly over several matches (look for Bolton to be shut out their next couple games). Or maybe it was just the fact that Wigan looks god-awful right now and a firm candidate for relegation this season. The Wanderers made a statement on finishing even though Wigan outshot them. After going one-up on a Paul Scharner own goal, Wigan equalized, only to see three unanswered Bolton goals break the game wide open. From Kevin Nolan, Kevin Davies, and Nicolas Anelka respectively.

Tottenham 2, Manchester City 1

Like Fabregas with Arsenal, we’re starting to see who the driving force behind Sven’s Citeh is. Without Elano again and facing White Hart Lane, City fought valiantly but was overcome by Tottenham’s forgotten striker – Jermain Defoe. Defore scored in 83rd minute effectively snuffing out any worries that the Hotspur faithful had in their dispatching of Citeh. The Blues helped Tottenham’s cause though as Defoe’s game winner came right after Stephen Ireland’s sending off in the 82nd minute.

West Ham 1, Blackburn 0

Jonathan Spector played the last 15 minutes helping to secure a 1-0 win over Brad Friedel’s Blackburn. It was Dean Ashton who broke the seemingly endless deadlock. Friedel looked solid in goal yet again, with 6 saves but it was Benny McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz who made West Ham’s life hell pouring on shot after shot. Robert Green – with his performance between the posts – will most likely boost his chances at England’s #1 spot.

EPL Weekend: Tottenham losing? It’s crazier that it’s December already…

Saturday, December 1st, 2007 

Chelsea 1, West Ham 0

Jon Spector played the last 10 minutes, but he came on too late to stop former Hammer Joe Cole from spoiling a decent West Ham performance. Steve Sidwell is starting to get starts for Chelsea – who have now moved past Man City in the standings.

Sunderland 1, Derby 0

New boss doesn’t equal success for Derby. No Feilhaber, no Lewis. Anthony Stokes provided the clincher for the Black Cats.

Blackburn 3, Newcastle 1

It was the David Bentley show – a brace and a nice display of technical prowess is all Blackburn needed to get past a faltering and GASP! underperforming Newcastle squad. Joey Barton started for Newcastle but was probably contemplating which is worse – the Newcastle black-and-white bars that he is playing in now or the bars he could behind in 2 weeks time. Friedel looked good…again.

Wigan 1, Manchester City 1

Elano-less Citeh had trouble with a feisty Wigan side, also boasting a new boss on the sidelines. Geovanni – who filled in for Elano – struck in the first minute only to see Paul Scharner equalize later on in the half. A deadlock ensued with no one particularly causing much trouble.

Everton 0, Portsmouth 0

A draw that pretty much everyone predicted due to Portsmouth’s run of now FOUR goalless home matches. Tim Howard had survive an offensive barrage though, but he showed again why he was one of the top keepers in the EPL.

Reading 1, Middlesbrough 1

Bobby Convey started and played 80 minutes. Dave Kitson struck right after halftime for the Royals, but it was Turkish player Sanli Tuncay who spoiled the party – hitting for an 83rd minute equalizer. Hahnemann looked decent as well, but was frustrated with the goal 7 minutes from time. These draws will come back to bite a minnow like Reading in the ass if they’re not careful.

Arsenal 2, Aston Villa 1

Villa went up 1-0 early on, but before the first half whistle could sound, Arsenal had scored two and looked unbeatable. Aleksandr Hleb and Lassana Diarra controlled the midfield well – looking wise beyond their years – but it was Adebayor who is the equivalent of the EPL’s Joseph Ngwenya (or vice versa). I’m not sure how he keeps scoring, but he does. It was Adebayor’s 36th minute strike that killed the Villans.

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007 

Liverpool 4, Bolton 0

Fernando Torres has already warned Liverpool owners that the sacking and/or exit of Rafa Benitez would spark a mass exodus from the squad and – unlike a Milan Baros or Fernando Morientes of years past – he’s actually providing results to back up his threats.

Birmingham 3, Tottenham 2

Gaffer McLeish couldn’t have asked for a better result his first match day on the job. Sebastian Larsson’s stunner destroyed Tottenham and probably ensured the Spurs another 10 games of bad luck, bad form, and distastrous morale levels. The Spurs had the edge offensively but defensive hiccups killed their chances as Birmingham kept equalizing.

Monday’s Match-up!

Fulham vs. Manchester United

Can Dempsey spoil Manchester United’s home form? Fulham often plays well against the Big Four, but only if that Big Four squad is named Arsenal. The Cottagers have been squeezing out points and I’m sure a draw is all that Lawrie Sanchez will ask for today.