A roundup of notable U.S. players in action in Europe over the past two weeks:
Brad Friedel, Aston Villa: Friedel made history against Fulham on Nov. 29, playing in his 167th consecutive Premier League game to set a new record, eclipsing the old mark of fellow keeper David James. "There is nothing I do particularly to keep myself fit," said Friedel, who joined Villa from Blackburn in the offseason. "I guess I am less liable to get injured than the guys in the outfield."
The 37-year-old was in fine form in the 0-0 draw against the Cottagers, registering a pair of good saves to deny U.S. international Clint Dempsey. One was a looping effort, while the other was a blistering strike in the dying minutes. Friedel also kept a clean sheet against Manchester United on Nov. 22 and made two good saves in Villa's hardly deserved 3-2 win over Everton on Sunday.
Martin O'Neill's squad is still within striking distance of the top four.
Season: 20 games played (0 substitute appearances).
Tim Howard, Everton: Howard didn't have much to do against Villa, except pick the ball out of his net. Steve Sidwell opened the scoring within 36 seconds with a rising long-range effort, and Ashley Young beat a stranded Howard on two breakaways. His second came in the fourth minute of injury time, moments after Everton's Joleon Lescott had made it 2-2 at Goodison Park. Howard preserved a 1-0 win at Tottenham on Nov. 30 by stopping Russian international Roman Pavlyuchenko late and made three good saves in a 1-0 defeat at Wigan on Nov. 24. Season: 19 (0)
Clint Dempsey, Fulham: Dempsey couldn't get into the starting lineup under manager Roy Hodgson at the start of the season. But things are changing. He started in Fulham's 0-0 draws against Villa and Liverpool, on Nov. 22, and in a 1-1 tie versus Manchester City on Saturday.
The midfielder was involved in the buildup to Fulham's goal against City but missed a good chance to score earlier in the first half when he shot wide from inside the box. Later in the half, he did well to attack a header that went wide again and received a nasty cut that needed treatment after he collided with towering Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim.
He was arguably Fulham's best player against Villa and set up a decent chance at Anfield, sending in a low cross that striker Bobby Zamora narrowly missed. Having barely avoided relegation last season, Fulham lies comfortably mid-table, unbeaten in five.
Season: 6 (7) -- 1 goal.
Brad Guzan, Aston Villa: With Friedel rested, Guzan made his third start of the season in Thursday's group game against Zilina in the UEFA Cup. Unfortunately for him, Villa lost 2-1 in Birmingham. Guzan was beaten on a cross that turned into a shot from 35 yards in the 16th minute -- defender Zat Knight appeared to pull away from heading Vladimir Leitner's effort, and the ball ended up in the corner. Guzan had no chance three minutes later, when Peter Styvar beat him from close range.
However, Villa still advanced to the round of 32.
Season: 3 (0)
Jonathan Spector, West Ham: Out since hip surgery in June, Spector is hoping to crack the lineup, according to West Ham's Web site, when the Hammers host archrival Tottenham on Monday. English papers report (not for the first time this season), that despite having signed a new contract last month, Spector and half-dozen of his teammates might be sold in the January transfer window to ease West Ham's financial worries.
Season: No appearances
Jay DeMerit, Watford: DeMerit and Watford started off well against Tottenham in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday before things took a turn for the worse. Tottenham rallied from an early 1-0 deficit at Vicarage Road to tie the score just before halftime, and Watford captain DeMerit limped off with a groin injury in the 58th minute. Darren Bent scored the winner late to send the Spurs through 2-1.
"Jay is so brave, and he's got a massive heart, so he's not going to walk off easily," said Watford's new boss, Brendan Rodgers. "You know when he does come off, he has a problem."
Sure enough, the defender missed Watford's 3-2 loss at high-flying Birmingham City on Saturday. Watford, close to the relegation zone, went unbeaten in its previous three league games, all starts for DeMerit, upsetting cash cow QPR 3-0 on Nov. 22.
Season: 18 (0) -- 0
Marcus Hahnemann, Reading: Reading's promotion chase suffered a blow Nov. 22, when it lost 2-1 at home to struggling Southampton; Hahnemann limited the damage in goal by keeping out Adam Lallana's spectacular volley.
Hahnemann also had an eventful game Nov. 25 at Cardiff City, conceding a penalty that was converted by Michael Chopra before stopping Chopra late to make sure matters ended 2-2. Reading bounced back by beating Coventry 3-1 last week and, playing more than a half with 10 men, downed Barnsley 1-0 Saturday on the road. Hahnemann was rarely tested. The Royals remain third, four points behind Birmingham and seven behind Wolves, who surprisingly lost at QPR.
Season: 22 (0) -- 0
Bobby Convey, Reading: Convey's spell away from the first team continued, as he failed to make the squad in all four games. The winger was deprived of a reserve appearance Thursday at Crystal Palace -- a frozen pitch forced the game to be postponed. Season: 5 (2) -- 0
Eddie Johnson, Cardiff City (loan from Fulham): Johnson, who showed signs of life recently when his playing time increased because of injuries to fellow strikers, hurt his foot and missed Saturday's 2-0 win over Preston and the 2-2 draw against Swansea in the Welsh derby Nov. 30.
"We feared the worst and thought there was a broken bone, but luckily it's only badly bruised," Cardiff manager Dave Jones said. "Hopefully we'll get him back pretty quick."
Before the setback, Johnson came on as a second-half substitute against Reading and started in a 2-1 loss at Plymouth on Nov. 22, denied a first English goal when his goal-bound shot was blocked in the second half.
Season: 5 (9) -- 0
Frankie Simek, Sheffield Wednesday: An unused substitute against Coventry, Blackpool and Norwich in late November, Simek finally made his first start in a year Saturday -- in a 1-1 tie at Southampton -- after recovering from a serious ankle injury.
The popular right back was at fault for Southampton's opener in the first half, however, as he allowed speedy forward Bradley Wright-Phillips to cut in and shoot on his right foot. Wright-Phillips promptly deposited his effort inside the far post. The visitors, three points outside a playoff spot, leveled in the 87th minute.
"Frank made a couple of errors in the first half," Wednesday manager Brian Laws said. "But he never did it in the second, and he was looking more like the old Frank.''
Season: 1 (1) -- 0
Jemal Johnson, MK Dons: The Dons had to lose sometime, and it happened Saturday at home. Scunthorpe won 2-0 in Milton Keynes, ending the host's six-game winning streak in the division. Johnson contested the final 19 minutes. The forward scored in 3-0 wins over Hereford on Nov. 25 and Walsall three days earlier. The Dons sit third, two points behind Millwall and four behind Leicester.
Season: 6 (10) -- 2
Spain, Primera Liga
Jozy Altidore, Villarreal: After not being included in the squad in a 3-0 home loss to Valladolid on Nov. 22 -- Villarreal's first league defeat of the season -- and a 0-0 draw versus Manchester United in the Champions League on Nov. 25, injuries gave Altidore back-to-back league starts, his first two in La Liga.
Villarreal's Web site enthused that the young forward ran "like a train on the right flank" at the start of a 2-1 win at Recreativo on Nov. 30, where he had a shot saved and set up a good chance for Santi Cazorla.
Altidore then played all 90 minutes in Saturday's pulsating 3-3 draw against Getafe, when the Yellow Submarine rallied from 3-0 down. He failed to convert a good chance at 3-1. U.S.-born striker Giuseppe Rossi scored the tying goal in the 85th minute and almost won it minutes later.
Season: 3 (3) -- 1
Italy, Serie B
Danny Szetela, Brescia (loan from Racing Santander): Brescia won three straight games to move within two points of table toppers Empoli, including local derbies against Albinoleffe and Mantova. Szetela, a midfielder, didn't feature in the derbies, but played the first 74 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Vicenza on Nov. 22.
Season: 6 (2) -- 1
Gabriel Ferrari, Perugia (loan from Sampdoria): Ferrari, a forward with Italian and Brazilian roots, played the second half of Perugia's 1-0 win over Arezzo on Nov. 24 and was called into action in the 33rd minute of a 1-1 tie against Real Marcianise a week later. He was an unused substitute Sunday at Foligno.
Season: 0 (5) -- 0
Steve Cherundolo, Hannover 96: Cherundolo suffered a neck injury against Karlsruhe on Nov. 29 and had to be replaced at halftime; ahead 3-0, the home team hung on to win 3-2. He then missed Sunday's 2-1 derby loss at Wolfsburg, still unbeaten at home this campaign. Cherundolo endured all 90 minutes of a 4-0 drubbing at Eintracht Frankfurt on Nov. 22.
He should be ready for next week's game against Arminia Bielefeld, according to Hannover's press office.
Season: 13 (1) -- 0
Michael Bradley, Borussia Moenchengladbach: On a high last month after scoring his first Bundesliga goal against Bayern Munich, Bradley had a game to forget against Energie Cottbus at home Nov. 29. Within three minutes, Bradley missed a header from five yards, his shot lacking power. Then in the 17th minute, the midfielder scored an own goal to give Cottbus a 1-0 lead. Cottbus went on to win 3-1, and Bradley was substituted in the 70th minute. He began on the bench Saturday against title-chasing Bayer Leverkusen, entering in the 63rd minute as part of a 3-1 defeat.
Bradley and Moenchengladbach were hit for three more goals Nov. 22, losing 3-1 at Schalke 04. Following a mini-revival under new coach Hans Meyer in the middle of October, Moenchengladbach revisited last place.
Season: 8 (2) -- 1
Neven Subotic, Borussia Dortmund: Subotic, a central defender, continued his fine form and helped Dortmund register three straight clean sheets.
In a 1-0 win at Karlsruhe on Nov. 21, Subotic preserved the victory by making a late block and also intercepting a pass to a wide open Edmond Kapllani.
Dortmund dropped two points in a 0-0 draw Nov. 30 at home against Wolfsburg, which has one of the worst road records in the Bundesliga, and tied Arminia Bielefeld on the road by the same score two days ago.
Just after the half hour, Subotic saw his close-range header saved by Dennis Eilhoff, and he made a vital late tackle to prevent an Oliver Kirch chance.
One loss in 11 leaves Dortmund in eighth spot, eight points behind league leading Hoffenheim.
Season: 18 (0) -- 5
Bryan Arguez, Hertha Berlin: Arguez, a midfielder, didn't make the squad in games against Bochum, Cologne and Schalke 04.
Season: No appearances
Sal Zizzo, Hannover 96: The midfielder played the final seven minutes versus Eintracht Frankfurt, his first appearance since late September, and was an unused sub against Karlsruhe.
Season: 0 (3) -- 0
France, Ligue 1
Freddy Adu, Monaco (loan from Benfica): He's not getting much playing time at Monaco, but that hasn't stopped Adu from thinking big.
"My dream is to play for one of the top European clubs, the top five," the forward said. "Tottenham are also one of my dreams, since I supported them as a boy. My objective is the Premier League, which is for me the best league in the world."
Back in France, Adu entered as a sub in stoppage time against Le Mans on Nov. 23, didn't play against Auxerre six days later and saw only nine minutes of action in Sunday's 1-1 stalemate against Sochaux.
A long way to go before the Premier League.
Season: 1 (8) -- 0
Carlos Bocanegra, Rennes: Rennes remained unbeaten in Ligue 1 since the middle of August after rallying to draw mid-table Caen 1-1 on the road Saturday -- but still slipped to third. In a game the visitors dominated, delivering three times as many shots, Bocanegra hit the post within three minutes. The left back also started in a 1-1 tie at Champions League entrant Bordeaux on Nov. 22 and 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Nov. 30.
Season: 17 (1) -- 0
Belgium, Jupiler League
Oguchi Onyewu, Standard Liege: Standard continued to excel in Europe, beating Partizan Belgrade 1-0 on Nov. 27 and Sampdoria 3-0 on Dec. 3 to advance to the next round. Onyewu was solid at the back, making a key block late against Partizan and scoring on a header against the Italians in the first half.
The European exertions, however, are taking their toll in the league: Standard drew Mechelen 0-0 three days after visiting Partizan and lost 2-1 at home to Zulte-Waregem, conceding the winner in injury time, on Saturday. Onyewu started all four games, plus Standard's 3-1 win over Mouscron on Nov. 22.
The defending champions, Standard slipped four points behind first-place Anderlecht.
Season: 22 (1) -- 3
Season ended in November
Charlie Davies, Striker, Hammarby:
Season: 25 (2) -- 14
Colin Burns, Goalkeeper, Ljungskile: Season: 14 (1) -- 0
* Ljungskile relegated
Etchu Tabe, Forward, Ljungskile: Season: 17 (2) -- 0
* Ljungskile relegated
Ryan Raybould, Defender, Gefle: Season: 4 (0) -- 0
Scotland, Premier League
DaMarcus Beasley, Rangers: Beasley made his first start since the end of October, getting the call to face Hamilton on Saturday. The winger didn't score but set up a Kenny Miller chance in a 7-1 rout before manager Walter Smith substituted him in the 79th minute. Beasley was a second-half substitute against Aberdeen on Nov. 22 and didn't make the squad in Rangers' upset 2-1 loss at Hearts on Nov. 29.
Season: 4 (5) -- 0
Maurice Edu, Rangers: Edu made the squad, but the midfielder didn't appear against Aberdeen, Hearts and Hamilton. Celtic blew a chance to take a seven-point lead over Rangers atop the Premier League by surprisingly losing 2-0 at Hibernian on Sunday. Season: 2 (0)-0
Danny Califf, FC Midtjylland: Califf and Midtjylland head into Denmark's three-month winter break in fourth spot, eight points adrift of table topping Brondby, after scoring in injury time Sunday to salvage a point at lowly Sonderjyske. Califf, the team captain, was replaced with 12 minutes remaining.
With Califf in his usual slot of central defense, Midtjylland downed Randers 2-1 on the road Nov. 24 and hammered Nordsjaelland 3-0 at home Nov. 30.
Season: 16 games played, 0 goals
Jeremiah White, Aarhus: White returned to action following injury, coming on in the 81st minute in Aarhus's 2-1 loss at Copenhagen in late November. He made a vital contribution Dec. 1 in a 2-1 win over surging Odense. Again a substitute, White's late shot was spilled by Odense keeper Arkadiusz Onyszko and fell to Rafael, who tapped in the winner in the 89th minute.
The midfielder hopes to crack the starting lineup Monday when Aarhus visits Nordsjaelland.
A point puts Aarhus into fifth, ahead of defending champions Aalborg.
Season: 17 games played, 2 goals
Benny Feilhaber, Aarhus: The international midfielder is a longterm absentee following knee surgery.
Season: 1 game played, no goals
Lee Nguyen, Randers: Apart from losing to Midtjylland, Randers also suffered defeat at home Sunday against Aalborg, 2-1. Supporting the attack, Nguyen played the final two minutes against Midtjylland and final 18 against Aalborg. He didn't make it onto the field against Esbjerg on Nov. 30.
Randers enter the break in seventh, closer to the relegation zone than top spot.
Season: 12 games played, 3 goals
Tally Hall, Esbjerg: No signs of playing time for Hall, a keeper. He didn't feature in three games for Esbjerg, which managed to escape the drop zone.
Season: 1 game played
Ravi Ubha is a London-based freelance journalist covering Americans abroad for ESPNsoccernet. He also covers tennis for ESPN.com.