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Dempsey returns with spectacular goal

March 24, 2010
Ubha By Ravi Ubha
Special to ESPN.com
(Archive)

Good news for soccer fans: Charlie Davies returned to Sochaux and began working on his fitness. Clint Dempsey scored one of the goals of the season for Fulham, while former Cottager Carlos Bocanegra netted for resurgent Rennes. Here's a brief roundup of Americans in Europe.

England

Premier League

Brad Friedel, GK, Aston Villa: Friedel and teammates blew a good chance to gain ground on Tottenham in fourth, managing only a 2-2 draw -- at home -- against relegation contenders Wolves in a Midlands derby on Saturday.

Friedel had little chance on Jody Craddock's scrappy effort and James Milner's own goal, which reversed a 1-0 Villa lead. Norwegian striker John Carew, who can't stop scoring, leveled in the 82nd minute.

"Our second goal came maybe five or 10 minutes too late," Friedel told reporters. "I think if it had come a little bit earlier, we would probably be the team that would have gone on and won. It was a difficult game, like all local derbies."

Friedel also started in a 4-2 FA Cup win over Reading as Villa rallied from 2-0 down, a 0-0 draw at Stoke and a 2-1 win at Wigan.

Villa trails Tottenham by five points with a game in hand and hosts suddenly surging Sunderland on Wednesday.

The next month could determine whether Villa's season turns out to be a success or failure. Losers in the League Cup final, Villa meets sagging Chelsea in the FA Cup semis April 10.

Season: 32 games played (0 substitute appearances)

Tim Howard, GK, Everton: Everton made it seven straight home league wins Saturday, with Howard playing a key role in a 2-0 victory over Bolton.

Howard stopped Kevin Davies when the striker was through on goal in the first half, and the Toffees netted twice in the second.

Everton, with an outside chance of landing a European spot following a horrible start, thrashed Hull 5-1 on March 7 but blew a two-goal lead at Birmingham a week later in a 2-2 draw.

Season: 42 (0)

Clint Dempsey, M, Fulham: Dempsey returned after missing two months with a knee injury -- and how. He put in another contender for goal of the season (think Stoke in early January), capping Fulham's unlikely Europa League comeback against mighty Juventus with a wonderful chip from the edge of the box in the second leg at Craven Cottage. His goal as a sub Thursday made it 4-1, allowing the Cottagers to advance 5-4 on aggregate.

"Nine out of 10 times, a shot like that would not have made it," Dempsey told reporters. "But sometimes you have to go for it. We've gone from relegation contenders to quarterfinalists in Europe."

Fulham meets defending German champs Wolfsburg in the quarters.

Dempsey made two other substitute appearances, against Manchester City and Juventus, starting in a 3-0 loss March 14 at Old Trafford.

Season: 25 (6): 8

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa: Unless Friedel gets injured, Guzan probably won't play again this season.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill likely won't use Guzan in the FA Cup semis and won't want to mess with Friedel's consecutive games streak in the Premier League.

To make matters worse, Villa was last week linked with Polish international Tomasz Kuszczak, who hasn't been able to land the starter's spot at Manchester United.

Season: 9 (0)

Jonathan Spector, D, West Ham: Five straight defeats mean West Ham is still very much in relegation danger.

Spector, though, had perhaps his best game of the season in Saturday's 2-0 loss at Arsenal. The right back struggled early in the first half coping with the pace of Gael Clichy and Andrei Arshavin, but then adapted. He also delivered a good cross for Benni McCarthy in the second half with the Hammers trailing by a goal.

Spector entered to start the second half, in the center of defense, in a demoralizing 3-1 home loss to Wolves on Tuesday. He also started in a 2-1 loss to Bolton and 4-1 loss at Chelsea.

Season: 18 (5): 0

Jozy Altidore, F, Hull (loan from Villarreal): Altidore missed out on Hull's 3-2 loss at gutsy Portsmouth on Saturday after suffering a hamstring injury. The Tigers, in Iain Dowie's first game in charge, conceded twice in the final two minutes.

Altidore made a nuisance of himself in a 2-1 loss to Arsenal a week earlier, holding the ball up well and shrugging off defenders. Hull lost another heartbreaker, giving up the winning goal deep in injury time.

Altidore was a second-half sub against Everton.

Season: 14 (10): 2

Marcus Hahnemann, GK, Wolves: Is there a harder-working team in the Premier League than Wolves? Maybe not.

Hahnemann and teammates registered a key 2-1 win at sinking Burnley before backing it up at Villa. They narrowly fell 1-0 at home to Manchester United, missing a glorious chance in injury time.

Hahnemann made three good saves against the Hammers, reacting well to keep out Scott Parker's rebound, pushing away Guillermo Franco's rifled effort and stopping Alessandro Diamanti's long-range strike. Hahnemann was denied a shutout when Franco netted in injury time.

Wolves took a huge step toward safety, seven points above the relegation zone.

Season: 20 (0)

Landon Donovan, F, Everton (loan from L.A. Galaxy): Donovan has returned to the L.A. Galaxy, but made quite an impression with Everton.

He made his final appearance as a second-half sub against Birmingham and received a great send-off from the Everton fans at Goodison Park a week earlier against Hull. Donovan entered in the 70th minute and netted 12 minutes later.

"The send-off from the fans after the Hull City game was one of the most incredible experiences of my life," Donovan told Everton's Web site. "You feel proud but it was also a sad moment, because when you're accepted that way and you feel that love, it's hard to leave. I've never seen or experienced anything like that and I just kind of went with the moment."

Needless to say, Donovan's spell in England was much more productive than last year's stint at Bayern Munich.

Season: 11 (2): 2

Stuart Holden, M, Bolton: If the initial forecast was right, Holden is due to return from injury next month.

Holden, drawing praise from Bolton boss Owen Coyle after his two appearances, fractured his right fibula in a challenge with Dutchman Nigel de Jong while on international duty early this month.

Season: 2 (0): 0

Championship

Jay DeMerit, D, Watford: In the last month, Watford went from outside playoff contender to relegation contender.

Watford lost four straight before beating Roy Keane's Ipswich Town 2-1 at home last week, with DeMerit starting. He started in defeats to Derby, Swansea and last-place Peterborough. In all three of those games, Watford didn't score.

DeMerit missed Sunday's 3-1 loss at Cardiff with a back injury.

The Hornets sit three points above the drop zone and face Sheffield Wednesday, one point above the bottom three, on Wednesday.

Season: 21 (1): 0

Frankie Simek, D, Sheffield Wednesday: One minute he's in the starting lineup, the next he's not.

Simek came on to start the second half March 6 in a 2-0 win against Leicester but was subsequently an unused substitute against West Bromwich Albion, Swansea and Derby.

Sitting on the bench won't do much for his World Cup chances.

Season: 11 (3): 0

Kenny Cooper, F, Plymouth (loan from 1860 Munich): The big striker isn't getting much playing time at Plymouth, an unused sub against Preston North End, QPR, Coventry, Bristol City and Ipswich.

Plymouth is all but certain to go down, six points from safety.

Season: 10 (7): 3

League One

Jemal Johnson, F, Stockport County (loan from MK Dons): A hamstring injury kept Johnson, in good form since joining County, out of the squad against Charlton, Gillingham, Brentford and Oldham.

The winger has been missed. County hasn't scored in five games.

Season: 22 (5): 3

Mike Grella, F, Leeds: Grella missed games against Brentford, Tranmere and Southampton with a hamstring injury, returning as an unused substitute Monday in a 2-0 loss at home to Millwall.

Wobbling Leeds now leads Millwall by only three points in the race for the second and final automatic promotion spot in League One. Charlton and Swindon are another point behind with nine matches remaining.

Season: 8 (15): 5

Italy, Serie A

Oguchi Onyewu, D, AC Milan: Onyewu continues to rehab the knee injury he suffered in October. According to The Washington Post, he's "following a routine used by players who have suffered similar ailments."

Milan, meanwhile, blew a chance to leapfrog Inter atop the table when it managed only a 1-1 tie with Napoli.

Season: 0 (1): 0

Germany, Bundesliga

Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96: Cherundolo returned from a shoulder injury, making substitute appearances against Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

Hannover snapped a nine-game losing streak in beating Freiburg and made it two straight versus Frankfurt before losing 2-0 to Stuttgart last weekend.

Hannover remains in the relegation zone, two points from safety.

Season: 19 (4): 0

Michael Bradley, M, Borussia Moenchengladbach: Moenchengladbach's good recent run came to an end, beaten 3-0 by Borussia Dortmund and 4-0 by Wolfsburg. The team, realistically safe from relegation, rebounded slightly with a 1-1 tie against Cologne on Friday.

Bradley started all three games, giving away a handball that led to a penalty against Wolfsburg.

Season: 24 (1): 2

Bundesliga 2

Luis Robles, GK, Kaiserslautern: Robles backed up Tobias Sippel for three more games.

Barring a collapse, Kaiserslautern, holding a five-point lead in the standings, is headed to the Bundesliga.

Season: No appearances

France, Ligue 1

Charlie Davies, F, Sochaux: Davies is back with Sochaux, and according to the club Web site Tuesday, did some jogging in the company of physical trainer Cedric Blomme.

Davies, who suffered multiple injuries in a car accident near Washington, D.C., in October, is hoping to be fit in time for the World Cup.

"Never have I been so happy to be so tired!!" Davies tweeted Tuesday. "Ran 3 miles yesterday & 4 miles today!! Ball work this afternoon. Loving fitness. Let's go!!!" Monday he said, "Feels so good to be back in the locker room!!!"

Season: 6 (2): 2

Carlos Bocanegra, D, Rennes: Bocanegra is finishing the season strong after losing his spot in the middle of the campaign.

He scored the only goal against Monaco on March 6, heading home a Sylvain Marveaux free kick in the 28th minute. He played all 90 minutes, too, in victories over Valenciennes and Toulouse.

Three straight wins -- after three straight losses -- kept alive Rennes' faint European hopes.

Season: 21 (2): 1

Greece, Super League

Eddie Johnson, F, Aris Salonika (loan from Fulham): After playing the final seven minutes against Kavala and the final three minutes against PAOK, Johnson started and scored his second goal in a 1-1 tie with Panionios on Sunday.

Johnson took a pass from fellow forward Javier Campora and tucked the ball inside the near post from close range.

Season: 4 (10): 2

Freddy Adu, M, Aris Salonika (loan from Benfica): Adu can't get back into the lineup after recovering from a sore hamstring. He was an unused sub in all three games.

Season: 5 (4): 2

Scotland, Premier League

DaMarcus Beasley, F, Rangers: Beasley looked lively in a 3-1 win over St. Mirren on March 6, earning a free kick from the edge of the box when fouled and later denied by goalkeeper Paul Gallacher at the back post.

The winger played 90 minutes against Kilmarnock three days later, saw 5 minutes of action in a pulsating 3-3 Scottish Cup quarterfinal draw with Dundee United and was an unused sub in Sunday's League Cup final.

Nine-man Rangers beat St. Mirren 1-0 thanks to a late Kenny Miller header. More silverware is on the way in the form of the league title.

Season: 8 (4): 2

Maurice Edu, M, Rangers: Despite scoring the winner against Celtic at the end of February, Edu hasn't been able to get a start.

He entered as a second-half sub in all four games. Edu is hoping to start Wednesday in the quarterfinal replay.

"We have a few players out for the United game and whoever comes in, whether it is me or anyone else, we have to have the mentality to come in and do well and try to help the team win the game," Edu told Rangers' Web site. "Like anyone else I want to play, and when I get the chance I have to seize my opportunity."

Season: 3 (7): 1

Sweden, Allsvenskan

Alejandro Bedoya, M, Orebro: The Swedish season began last week and Bedoya played 90 minutes in Orebro's 2-0 home win against newly promoted Atvidabergs.

Bedoya started again Tuesday when Orebro fell to Malmo 3-0.

Season: 2 (0): 0

Denmark, Superligaen

Benny Feilhaber, D, Aarhus: Feilhaber has returned to training with Aarhus after receiving treatment for his injured ankle in Brazil, the country of his birth.

League: 16 (1): 1

Michael Parkhurst, D, Nordsjaelland: Parkhurst failed to see action against Aalborg, Randers and Esbjerg.

League: 14 (0): 0

Marcus Tracy, F, Aalborg: Tracy, recovering from a knee injury, didn't feature in three games for Aalborg.

League: 3 (3): 1

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.