Happy Howard helps Everton rise near top of English Premier League.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Monday, September 25, 2006) -- United States goalkeeper Tim Howard is enjoying his new home with Everton and he has played an important role in The Blues' early season success in the English Premier League.
| Tim Howard has no hard feelings against Manchester United which loaned him to Everton for the season.
-- Everton FC web site photo --
He made four difficult saves in the final 10 minutes of Saturday's 1-1 draw at Newcastle United before 50,107 at St. James' Park in a fast-paced, physical match that saw a player from each side sent off in a four-minute span midway through the second half.
Young striker Giuseppe Rossi, who has dual Italian and U.S citizenship, is on loan from Manchester United and Newcastle inserted him into the match in the 81st minute. He had four good shots in the next 10 minutes, forcing Howard into two very good saves.
The only goal Howard gave up came when Shola Ameobi put Newcastle ahead 1-0 in the 14th minute with a disputed tally. Three Newcastle players were clearly offside with Ameobi at least three yards behind the rearmost defender when he collected the ball, had time to set himself, looked up and calmly shot under an advancing Howard.
Tim Cahill equalized for The Blues in the 41st minute.
After six games, Everton is one of two teams without a loss in the EPL, tied for fourth place with Aston Villa. Both clubs at 3-0-3 with 12 points, three points behind first-place Chelsea (5-1) and one below Manchester United and surprising Portsmouth, both 4-1-1.
Howard, who was acquired before the season on a year-long loan from Manchester United, is enjoying his new club.
"Everything seems to be going well, no complaints, so far so good," Howard told ESPN Soccernet. "My role with the team will be the same as it always has been with any team that I am on. It is always my goal to be a steadying influence wherever I'm at. This doesn't change, no matter the setting."
Howard says he bears no ill will toward Man. U., which acquired Edwin van der Saar last season rather than giving him the starting job. "I don't think it was a slight, though there obviously are naysayers," Howard said. "The most judgmental ones didn't have an insider's view. I don't think most people understand that the move to get Edwin was exactly what it was. He's a great goalkeeper and I didn't take it personally. Nothing deeper than that. They brought him in to play, simply put. European football is very cutthroat, so much more than people realize.
"Looking at it now, it wasn't the worst thing in the world for me because, at the moment, things are pretty good for me at Everton and we have a good club and coach (David Moyes). As for me, I'll just keep plugging away."
Though focused on continued Premier League success, Howard can't help but keep an eye on the U.S. where the search to replace men's national-team manager Bruce Arena continues.
"I am just as interested in this as everyone else, maybe even more than everyone else," Howard said. "The odds-on favorite at one time was Jürgen Klinsmann. I don't know if he still is now. Bob Bradley and Sigi Schmid have the credentials, they have to be considered. They're both good coaches. I have played for them both and they bring a lot to the table. Tremendous candidates if given the opportunity and they'd represent us well. Jürgen Klinsmann showed his worth in the last World Cup. He is an excellent choice."
In second-round Carling Cup action, Everton got past Peterborough of the fourth-tier League Two 2-1 thanks to an own goal and a decisive strike by Cahill in the 87th minute. Howard did not dress with Everton using mostly reserves.
Reading is in the Premier League for the first time in its 135-year history and showed Saturday that with a little luck and a lot of effort it can play with anyone following a 1-1 draw with visiting Manchester United before 24,098 at sold-out Madejski Stadium.
United dominated the match, outshooting the Royals 19-3., but it was Reading that took a 1-0 lead after its tenacity led to Kevin Doyle's 48th-minute penalty kick. Cristiano Ronaldo tied the game for United in the 73rd minute.
American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann had an up-and-down day with a shaky start. In the second minute, Wayne Rooney tested him with a hard low shot he could not hold and required a quick clearance from Royals captain Graeme Murty to prevent Kieran Richardson from getting to the rebound.
Hahnemann did well on a low drive from Ronaldo, but then fumbled a free kick from Ronaldo before recovering. He was beaten by Paul Scholes from point-blank range only to see the shot go inches wide. Hahnemann ended the day with six saves with Ronaldo beating him with a fine solo effort, cutting in from the left and evading two defenders before firing across a diving Hahnemann into the far corner of the net in a textbook finish.
American Bobby Convey went the distance on the left side of midfield and was forced to play a lot of defense with Reading constantly absorbing pressure in its first league meeting with Man U.
A month into the 2005-06 campaign, Reading (3-2-1, 10 points) remains far and away the best of the three promoted teams, tied for seventh with Liverpool (3-2-1). The other promotions are winless and in the relegation zone -- Watford (0-3, 3) and Sheffield United (0-4-2, 2)
Last Tuesday, Reading was lucky to get past League Two (third tier) Darlington in the second round of the Carling Cup. Royals boss Steve Coppell started 10 reserves with Convey and Hahnemann on the bench. Despite having a man advantage from the 72nd minute through regulation and 30 minutes of overtimes, Reading could only manage a 3-3 draw, but advanced 4-2 in a penalty-kicks tiebreaker.
Visiting Blackburn Rovers outlasted Middlesbrough 1-0 Saturday before 24,959 at Riverside Stadium in a match where both keepers excelled. Rovers' American keeper Brad Friedel was perfect, making seven saves, while his counterpart Mark Schwarzer had 12 saves, but was not able to stop Rovers striker Shabani Nonda's powerful header, in the 27th minute.
Blackburn (2-2-2, 8) is in a three-way tie for ninth place.
Normally a defender, American Carlos Bocanegra started as defensive midfielder for host Fulham which fell 2-0 to league-leading Chelsea (5-1, 15) at Craven Cottage.
Bocanegra worked in a five-man midfield with only Collins John on the front line and U.S. striker Brian McBride on the bench. The clearly defensive strategy worked for awhile, before Fulham defender Liam Rosenior was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box in the 73rd minute even though he was flat on his stomach when the ball was shot into him.
Frank Lampard converted the subsequent penalty kick and added an insurance tally in the 80th minute.
Bocanegra came out in the 77th minute, the same time as when McBride replaced John.
After a second straight loss, Fulham is 2-2-2 with eight points, tied for ninth place.
Fulham was coming off a major embarrassment after it was knocked out of the Carling Cup losing 2-1 at home to League Two (fourth tier) leader Wycombe in the biggest upset of the Cup thus far.
Bocanegra started and went 58 minutes before being pulled for an additional attacker. He was one of the goats on the night for bringing down Jermaine Easter in the 40th minute for a clear penalty call and Tommy Mooney converted for Wycombe's second goal.
McBride was rested as Fulham started a squad of about half reserves.
U.S. midfielders Claudio Reyna and DaMarcus Beasley saw little action for Manchester City which received a pair of second-half goals from newly-arrived striker Georgios Samaras and defeated visiting West Ham United 2-0 in front of 41,073 at City of Manchester Stadium Saturday.
Reyna entered in the 81st minute for striker Ishmael Miller and was asked to play a defensive role to help kill off the final minutes. Beasley did not play.
City manager Stuart Pearce's job appeared safe for another week with City (2-3-1, 7) tied for 12th place.
Reyna did play 90 minutes Tuesday when City was eliminated 2-1 from the Carling Cup by League One's Chesterfield.
Samaras scored City's only goal in a weak effort by a squad that included all available starters. Reyna might have played himself onto the bench after his clearing header of Mark Allott's cross that fell perfectly for Derek Niven, who drove a right-footed volley into the top corner of the net.
Beasley watched the match from the bench.
American defender Jay DeMerit went the whole way for Watford, which gained its first Premiership road point in a 1-1 draw with Wigan Saturday before a small crowd of 16,359 at JJB Stadium.
Hameur Bouazza scored for Watford in the 63rd minute after Henri Camara had put the home side ahead midway through the first half. It was a good defensive effort by Watford in the second half after a problem-filled first 45 minutes in which it was lucky not to be trailing by at least three goals.
Watford sits in the relegation zone in 18th place.
Watford was also fortunate to make it into the third round of the Carling Cup, getting by League Two's Accrington 6-5 in penalty kicks after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer Wednesday. DeMerit was among the regulars who were rested for the match.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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