(Thursday, April 17, 2008) -- Despite some early heroics from its United States attacker Michael Bradley, Heerenveen's hopes for a European Champions League berth next season received a setback this weekend when it wasted a 2-0 lead and lost 4-2 to host Sparta Rotterdam Sunday in the Dutch Eredivisie at ENECO Stadium.
In the third minute, Bradley's shot seemed targeted for the net, but teammate Danijel Pranjic deflected the ball over the crossbar. Ten minutes later, Bradley broke up an attack, countered immediately and, after a long run, squared the ball to Pranjic who opened the scoring.
A minute before halftime, Gerald Sibon made it 2-0, but Rotterdam, playing to avoid relegation, was able to come back on goals by Charles Dissels and Nourdin Boukhari, a penalty kick by Sjaak Polak and another tally by Marvin Emnes in a 25-minute span beginning in the 55th minute.
Heerenveen (17-10-6) is tied for fifth place with Feyenoord Rotterdam (17-10-6), but is 15 better that Feyenoord in goal differential, the first tiebreaker. The second-through-fifth finishers advance to the Chapions League qualifying round, while those in sixth-through-ninth place find themselves in the qualifying round for the second-tier UEFA Cup.
On April 5, it was Heerenveen that staged the comeback with Sibon collecting the winner with a free kick in the 74th minute in a 3-2 road decision over Willem II. Bradley went the distance in an attacking midfield role, but did not score.
Onyewu scores winner for Standard
Things tightened up a bit at the top of Belgium's Jupiler League when U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu and Standard de Liège could only manage a 0-0 draw with Lokeren, while second-place Anderlecht won its match. As usual, Onyewu went the distance in back for Standard.
On April 6, Onyewu was the hero when his goal in the 86th minute allowed Standard to defeat visiting Mouscron 1-0.
Standard could not take advantage of a number of early chances and the match seemed headed for scoreless result when Milan Jovanovic lined up a free kick from the right corner of the penalty area. It deflected off Mouscron striker Bertin Tomou in the crowded penalty area and popped up to Onyewu, who crashed home a header past goalkeeper Mark Volders for his second goal of the season.
With four matches left in the season, Standard is still undefeated at 19-0-11 with 68 points, seven points ahead of Anderlecht (18-5-7), which has moved a point ahead of Club Brugge (18-6-6). Standard can wrap up the title this weekend if it wins, while Anderlecht and Brugge don't.
Cherundolo solid in Hannover defense
In the German Bundesliga, U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo went the distance for Hannover 96 yesterday in a 3-1 triumph over host Borussia Dortmund.
On Saturday, Cherundolo brushed off an injury suffered a week earlier and helped Hannover 96 to a 2-1 victory over visiting Eintracht Frankfurt at the AWD-Arena. Cherundolo turned in a strong performance for 90 minutes, especially over the final half hour after Hannover went a man down in the 61st minute. Hannover still came up with the game winner in the 89th minute on a goal by defender Christian Schulz.
On April 5, Hannover suffered a tough 3-2 loss at VfL Wolfsburg, Cherundolo went to the bench in the 52nd minute after injuring his right kneecap, an ailment that turned out to be minor.
Hannover (11-10-8, 38 points) is tied for ninth place.
American defender Heath Pearce came on in the 60th minute for Hansa Rostock, which dropped a 2-1 decision Tuesday to visiting Werder Bremen.
Pearce came on three minutes after Torsten Frings put Bremen ahead 1-0. Rostock came back to tie 1-1 on Sebastian Hähnge's goal in the 79th minute, but fell when Ivan Klasnic found net for Bremen three minutes later.
On Saturday, Pearce played the final 16-plus minutes and assisted the decisive tally of Hansa Rostock's unexpected 2-1 road win at Karlsruhe.
Pearce came on for Christian Rahn in the 74th minute after Sebastian Freis had leveled the match at 1-1 for Karlsruhe. Pearce was a hero after his precise pass allowed Fin Bartels to score his second goal of the match in the 84th minute.
On April 5, Pearce got a rare start in Rostock's 1-0 loss to Schalke. He played because regular defensive midfielder Marc Stein, was serving a suspension. Stein was back against Karlsruhe, so Pearce started in his usual spot on the bench.
Hansa (7-16-6, 27 points) had popped out of the relegation zone briefly but, after falling to Bremen, is back in the top of the drop zone, one point from safety.
TSV 1860 Munich finally wins one
In the 2Bundesliga, TSV 1860 Munich snapped a four-game losing streak and 10-match winless skein (0-6-4) by edging SV Wehen Wiesbaden 2-1 at home.
On Sunday, Munich fell 2-0 at Kickers Offenbach, nine days after losing 3-1 at SpVgg Greuther Fürth. American defender Gregg Berhalter went 90 minutes in both setbacks, earning a yellow card against Offenbach.
The Greuther Fürth match was much more ragged with one 1860 player sent off in the 43rd minute and another in the 82nd. U.S. striker Josh Wolff did not play in either match for 1860.
Munich (9-12-8, 38 points) climbed a spot into 10th place with tonight's victory, but the season clearly has been one of disappointment.
1. FC Mainz 05 laced visiting SC Paderborn 07 6-1 Tuesday as it continued its effort for promotion. At 13-6-10 with 49 points, Mainz is still in fourth place with three teams promoted but, with five matches remaining trails 1. FC Köln (14-7-8) and TSG Hoffenheim (14-7-8) by only one point each.
On Friday, Mainz lost 2-1 to FC Augsburg after defeating Wehen 3-0 April 6.
VfL Osnabrück dropped a 2-0 decision to host Köln Tuesday. On Friday, things turned out better with a 2-0 triumph over TuS Koblenz, coming after a 3-0 loss to Alemannia Aachen.
American midfielder Joe Enochs came on in the 85th minute against Koblenz after not leaving the bench against Aachen.
Osnabrück (9-13-7, 34 points) is in a three-way tie for 12th place.
Six Americans play in Norway's Tippeligaen
There are six Americans playing this seaosnin the 14-team in the Tippeligaen, Norway's top division. They are goalkeeper Adin Brown and attacker Pat Noonan for Aalesund, keeper Troy Perkins with Vålerenga IF-Oslo, midfielder Brian West for Fredrikstad, attacker David Driscoll with (Strømsgodset) and defender Brian Waltrip with Molde.
This week Aalesund went down to Viking 2-1. Brown went the distance, while Noonan came on as a reserve in the 61st minute. A week earlier, Brown was strong for Aalesund in a 4-2 defeat Brann 4-2, while Noonan did not play.
Perkins had a clean sheet for Vålerenga, which defeated Lillestrøm 3-0 this week. This followed an effort in which Perkins conceded a pair of second-half goals, including one to Tommy Knarvik in stoppage time, in a 2-0 loss to Tromsø 2-0.
West did not play in FFK's 2-1 win over Rosenborg. A week earlier, West did not play and Waltrip came on in the 74th minute for Fredrikstad as it defeated Molde 2-1. Neither played in an earlier 0-0 draw with Tromsø.
Driscoll did not play when Strømsgodset defeated Rosenborg 3-2.
Jaqua is stalwart for SC Rheindorf
In Austria, American striker Nate Jaqua regularly plays 90 minutes, as he did for SC Rheindorf in a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Austria Vienna. That followed a 1-1 draw with SK Austria in which Jaqua was booked.
In Portgual, U.S. midfielder Freddy Adu again did not dress for Benfica in a 0-0 draw with Boavista.