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Hahnemann solidifies backup grip

April 20, 2010
Ubha By Ravi Ubha
Special to ESPN.com
(Archive)

Alejandro Bedoya, already a key player at Orebro in Sweden, netted his first goal of the season, while Marcus Hahnemann collected another clean sheet in England. Steve Cherundolo, meanwhile, will want to forget Hannover's visit to Bayern Munich.

Here's the latest fortnightly roundup of Americans in Europe.

England

Premier League

Brad Friedel, GK, Aston Villa: Aston Villa can't catch any breaks at Wembley. For the second time this season, a missed call may have led to defeat. Facing Chelsea in the F.A. Cup semifinals April 10, referee Howard Webb -- in poor form recently -- didn't award a penalty in the first half when Gabriel Agbonlahor was tripped in the box. And he had a good view.

Chelsea survived and put three goals past Friedel in the second half to win 3-0 and book a spot in the final against Cinderella Portsmouth.

In the Carling Cup final, referee Phil Dowd failed to send off Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic for a foul and the Red Devils overturned a 1-0 deficit to repeat.

"It makes you wonder if referees have a hard time making the big decision against big teams on the big stage," Friedel told reporters.

A 2-2 draw against surging Everton a week ago all but ended Villa's chances of finishing fourth, although Friedel and teammates beat Portsmouth 2-1 on Sunday.

Season: 38 games played (0 substitute appearances)

Tim Howard, GK, Everton: Howard continues to be a workhorse for Everton, starting against Aston Villa -- he should have done better on Phil Jagielka's own goal -- and on Saturday against Blackburn. Everton downed Blackburn 3-2, and Howard had no chance on the goals he conceded, stunning long-range efforts from Steven N'Zonzi and Jason Roberts.

The Toffees still face an uphill battle to land a European spot after fiercest rival Liverpool overcame West Ham on Monday.

Everton manager David Moyes intends to give Howard more competition next season, agreeing in January to sign Slovakian international Jan Mucha from Legia Warsaw.

"Tim has been terrific this year," Moyes told the Liverpool Daily Post. "He has been reliable and consistent, but what we need is pressure on positions, and I felt there was a chance to do that with Tim. He will have more competition next season."

Season: 47 (0)

Clint Dempsey, M, Fulham: Dempsey missed the second leg of Fulham's Europa League quarterfinal against Wolfsburg with a thigh injury, and subsequently couldn't play against Liverpool and Wolves.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said Dempsey should be fit for Thursday, when the Cottagers face Hamburg in the first leg of the Europa League semis.

Season: 28 (7), 8 goals

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa: In late March, Guzan said he was getting tired of the bench. No end in sight. Guzan backed up Friedel against Chelsea, Everton and Portsmouth.

Season: 9 (0)

Jonathan Spector, D, West Ham: Spector was part of the back four that helped West Ham earn its first clean sheet since Feb. 20, a 1-0 win over Sunderland on April 10. The Hammers thus built on a 2-2 tie at Everton the week before.

The results came after boss Gianfranco Zola gave his under-fire players a few days off.

"We all needed to get away and clear our heads and come back and start fresh," Spector told reporters. "We did that."

Unfortunately, it didn't last long. A lifeless West Ham lost 3-0 at Anfield on Monday, with the score not reflecting Liverpool's dominance. Spector started, replaced late in the second half.

Season: 22 (5), 0 goals

Jozy Altidore, F, Hull (loan from Villarreal): New Hull manager Iain Dowie waxed lyrical about Altidore, saying the big striker could be the player who keeps the Tigers up. But on Saturday, Altidore didn't get off the bench until the 76th minute. Hull earned a valuable point, probably needing more, by drawing Birmingham 0-0 away.

Hull trails West Ham, in the last safety spot, by three points with a game in hand. Hull hosts Villa on Wednesday.

"Good point," Altidore tweeted. "Now another on wed night, and yes u guessed it we need points!"

Hull's chances of escaping suffered a huge blow April 10, when Hull lost 4-1 at home to Burnley -- after taking the lead. Burnley, defensively challenged, previously hadn't won on the road in the division.

Altidore's cross set up the opener, although he was thwarted from close range by the "The Beast," Brian Jensen, with Hull leading 1-0. It was the turning point.

Season: 16 (12), 2 goals

Marcus Hahnemann, GK, Wolves: Wolves played out a drab scoreless draw Saturday at Fulham, which suits Hahnemann & Co. just fine. Barring a late collapse, the team is staying up.

Hahnemann also blanked Stoke, surviving the usual aerial onslaught, on April 11. If only Wolves could score -- that's four games in a row without a goal.

"We're doing it the hard way sometimes, but keeping clean sheets makes it that little bit easier," Hahnemann told the Express and Star.

Surely Hahnemann has to be the No. 2, behind Howard, in South Africa, given Guzan's lack of playing time.

Season: 24 (0)

Stuart Holden, M, Bolton: Holden, recovering from a fractured right fibula, hopes to return for Bolton's final two games, starting with the visit to high-flying Tottenham on May 1. He's not looking too far ahead to the World Cup.

"First and foremost, my duty is to the club," Holden told Bolton's website on April 6. "That's why I want to come back and make a stamp on the last two games and show the fans what I showed them in my first two games.

"The World Cup is the bigger goal in mind. It's a dream of mine to play in a World Cup so now that the opportunity is so close I'm going to do every little thing that I can control to put myself in the best possible position."

Bolton realistically ensured safety by downing Stoke 2-1 on Saturday, a smash and grab.

Season: 2 (0), 0 goals

Championship

Jay DeMerit, D, Watford: The Hornets are still sweating it out near the foot of the table, only two points above the relegation zone with three matches remaining. Watford got a much-needed 1-0 win against Plymouth, almost certain to go down, on April 10. DeMerit played all 90 minutes in defense.

He was taken off in the 55th minute of a 4-1 loss at playoff bound Leicester on Saturday with an undisclosed knock -- after giving away a penalty in the 36th minute. DeMerit appeared to get the ball as he challenged Richie Wellens, although referee Nigel Miller saw it differently.

"It was a horrendous, dreadful decision," Watford manager Malky Mackay told reporters. "Their players didn't even claim for it. The ball was going out of play. It was a very strange decision."

Playing against 10 men for the final 45 minutes, Watford couldn't take full advantage. Watford visits QPR on Tuesday.

Season: 26 (2), 0 goals

Frankie Simek, D, Sheffield Wednesday: Simek still can't get any game time, an unused sub against Middlesbrough and in Sunday's Steel City derby against Sheffield United that ended 1-1.

Wednesday lies one point from safety -- behind Crystal Palace -- with two matches remaining. The Owls host Palace on May 2.

Season: 11 (3), 0 goals

Kenny Cooper, F, Plymouth (loan from 1860 Munich): Cooper contested the final two minutes against Watford and didn't make the squad against Newcastle, back in the Premier League next season, on Monday.

He scored the winner, though, in a reserve game against Swindon Town on April 7. "Kenny got himself a goal, which is good," Plymouth assistant coach John Carver was quoted as saying in the Herald.

Season: 10 (10), 3 goals

League One

Jemal Johnson, F, Stockport County (loan from MK Dons): The speedy winger entered in the 71st minute of a 3-0 loss at Hartlepool on April 13 and came off in the 78th minute Saturday in a 2-0 loss at Leyton Orient. Defender Eric Lichaj, an American on loan at Orient, notched the second in the 80th minute, his first senior goal.

Back at the parent club, former England captain Paul Ince resigned as manager in his second stint, citing a lack of funds for next season.

Season: 25 (7), 3 goals

Mike Grella, F, Leeds: Grella was an unused sub against Southend and Gillingham, seeing three minutes of action in between against Carlisle United. Leeds leads Millwall by a point, Swindon by two and Charlton by three in the second and final automatic promotion spot. All four teams drew or lost last weekend.

Season: 9 (17), 5 goals

Italy, Serie A

Oguchi Onyewu, D, AC Milan: Onyewu, on the mend from a serious knee injury he suffered in October, has a while to go before being considered for squad selection. He didn't take part in a training session Saturday.

On Sunday, Milan blew a 1-0 lead and fell to Sampdoria 2-1, virtually ending its title hopes. With four matches remaining, Milan trails Roma by seven points.

Season: 0 (1), 0 goals

Germany, Bundesliga

Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96: It was a good news, bad news fortnight for relegation-threatened Hannover.

First with the good -- Cherundolo (wearing the captain's armband) and teammates beat title-chasing Schalke 04 4-2 at home April 10, snapping a 2-2 tie with two late goals. Manuel Neuer, possibly Germany's starting keeper at the World Cup, made two blunders for Schalke.

Hannover fans unveiled a specially designed banner paying tribute to Cherundolo's 11 years of service with the club. "This was an emotional moment and has overwhelmed me," Cherundolo told Hannover's website.

A week later, Cherundolo also played all 90 minutes -- in a 7-0 loss to first-place Bayern Munich. Bayern fired a staggering 26 shots total.

Hannover slipped to second to last, a point from safety with three rounds to go.

Season: 23 (4), 1 goal

Michael Bradley, M, Borussia Monchengladbach: No such relegation worries for Monchengladbach, especially after a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on April 9.

Bradley played a role in the build-up to the opener in the sixth minute, sending in Raul Bobadilla. Marco Reus eventually got the goal.

Bradley started again in a 3-1 loss at Schalke on April 17.

Season: 27 (1), 2 goals

Bundesliga 2

Luis Robles, GK, Kaiserslautern: Only a minor miracle prevents Kaiserslautern from promotion to the Bundesliga now, eight points above third-place Augsburg with a paltry three games to play. Robles persists as Tobias Sippel's backup, on the bench against Union Berlin and Arminia Bielefeld.

Season: No appearances

France, Ligue 1

Charlie Davies, F, Sochaux: Davies, targeting a return later this month, didn't make the squad against Marseille (twice), St. Etienne and Grenoble. Despite a slump -- no wins since March 6 -- Sochaux sits 10 points above the relegation zone.

Skipping the World Cup isn't an option following October's fatal car accident, Davies says.

"I have a lot of pressure today after my accident," Davies told Sochaux's website April 10. "Many people hope that I'll come back, but most of them think that I can't play at the World Cup. I continue my rehab, and I'm sure I'll succeed. I can't imagine not playing this World Cup."

Season: 6 (2), 2 goals

Carlos Bocanegra, D, Rennes: Bocanegra missed draws against Lorient and Nancy with a hamstring injury.

Season: 23 (2), 1 goal

Greece, Super League

Eddie Johnson, F, Aris Salonika (loan from Fulham): Johnson played the final 16 minutes of a 2-1 loss to Asteras on April 11 and started a week later in a 2-1 loss to second-place Olympiakos, off in the 60th minute. In both games Johnson failed to register a shot.

Season: 6 (13), 2 goals

Freddy Adu, M, Aris Salonika (loan from Benfica): Adu picked up a yellow card in a start against Asteras and was an unused sub against Olympiakos.

Season: 6 (4), 2 goals

Scotland, Premier League

Maurice Edu, M, Rangers: Rangers moved closer to retaining the Scottish title by beating Hearts 2-0 on Sunday. Edu, recovered from a slight calf problem, didn't make it off the bench.

He earned an assist in a 3-1 win over Aberdeen on April 7 and was substituted in the 90th minute of a 0-0 draw at Dundee United -- Rangers' conquerors in the Scottish Cup -- on April 14 thanks to the calf malaise.

With the World Cup less than two months away, Edu looked ahead to the much-anticipated U.S.-England clash in Group C.

"England have a talented squad with a lot of depth from back to front," Edu told the Scottish Daily Record. "But in the World Cup the best team on paper doesn't always win on the day. We opened a few eyes in the Confederations Cup, and we want to build on that."

Season: 7 (9), 2 goals

DaMarcus Beasley, F, Rangers: Beasley was an unused substitute against Hearts on April 7, not in the squad versus Aberdeen and Dundee United.

Season: 9 (4), 2 goals

Sweden, Allsvenskan

Alejandro Bedoya, M, Orebro: Bedoya, who hasn't disgraced himself in his short time with the national team, is sure to get more attention after scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win at Brommapojkarna on April 15. Bedoya met a cross at the far post and headed the ball home in the 40th minute. He started -- and also completed -- games against Gais and Gefle.

Backed by a fine road record, three wins and a loss, Orebro moved up to fourth.

Season: 7 (0), 1 goal

Denmark, Superligaen

Benny Feilhaber, D, Aarhus: After entering in the 57th minute against Aalborg, Feilhaber went the distance in an ill-tempered clash against Midtjylland (five yellow cards, one red for Aarhus) and Brondby.

Aarhus, which has lost three in a row and won once in the last 11, is only two points above the relegation zone.

League: 18 (4), 1 goal

Michael Parkhurst, D, Nordsjaelland: The versatile Parkhurst has regained his spot at Nordsjaelland, completing 90 minutes against Koge, Brondby and Silkeborg.

Nordsjaelland, unbeaten in four, rests eight points above the drop zone.

League: 18 (0), 0 goals

Marcus Tracy, F, Aalborg: Tracy is likely gone for the season with a knee injury that's bothered him since the end of last year.

League: 3 (3) 1 goal

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