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Dempsey finds net twice, late header for Fulham stuns Chelsea in 2-2 draw.

U.S. under-20s Bernardo, Nazzani refine their trade in Italy.

Adu gets first start for Monaco in Cup loss to PSG.

With Friedel in net, Aston Villa couples UEFA Cup advancement with EPL success.

Howard, Onyewu face off: Standard, Everton draw in UEFA Cup.

U.S. players have seen their numbers dwindle in English Premier League.

Beasley helps Rangers get off to good start.

Hahnemann's 10 saves stymie Man United, earn Reading 0-0 draw.

Adu negotiates with Benfica after MLS, Portugese power, agree to $2-million transfer fee.

Dalby North End romance ends with work permit denial.

Beasley reported to be near deal with Glasgow Rangers.

Bernardo's Italian training could benefit U.S. future.

Friedel, Rovers left to rue what should have been.

Onyewu is hopeful, but unsure of his Newcastle future.

Hahnemann is ranked No. 1 among Premier League goalkeepers.

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Americans Abroad

Onyewu's future with Standard is up in the air as club ponders transfer.

By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
and Chris Courtney (in Naples, Italy)

(Friday, January 2, 2009) -- United States defender Oguchi Onyewu has returned to the U.S. to spend a part of his month-long winter break from the Belgian Jupiler League, but he has no idea whether he will be returning to Standard de Liège or if he will have been sold to one of a number of suitors with the January transfer window open.

Onyewu is in the final year of a three-year pact with Liège. Over the past two years, the central defender has been rumored at one time or another to be headed to clubs in England, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Various offers have been made, but none have come to fruition. In 2007, Onyewu went on loan to Newcastle United of the English Premier League, but transfer talks did not result in a deal.

Right now, the most apparent active interest in Onyewu is on the part of Olympique Marseille of the French Ligue 1. Reportedly, Marseille's number-one target for central defense is Brazilian Manuel Da Costa of Italy's Fiorentina.

Besides Onyewu, also on Marseille's short list are Servet Cetin of Galatasaray in Turkey and Leandro Almeida of Brazil's Atletico Minerio. With Fiorentina keen to secure a European Champions League spot and not ready to let go of Da Costa, Onyewu and Cetin appear to be Marseille's most likely options.

Marseille coach Eric Gerets told France Football he still wants to sign Onyewu. He was at Standard's recent UEFA Cup match against Sampdoria to observe the American, who scored in his team's 3-0 win.

Gerets is looking for help to strengthen his team's central defense, which has been a disappointment, despite the club's current fifth-place standing in Ligue 1. Its defensive softness was most vividly displayed in its most outing, a 3-0 home loss December 21 to Nancy.

During that dismal performance, the central midfield and defense did not communicate well and Marseille was overall weak in one-on-one challenges. Observers have noted that this year's edition of L'OM is strong on paper, but mentally weak. The addition of Onyewu, a player Gerets referred to as "intense and strong," could be just what the team needs to challenge for one of the league's top places this season.

Any move for Onyewu would likely be tied to the fate of Marseille central defender Ronald Zubar, a player once linked to Arsenal of the English Premier League and France's Olympique Lyon before having a disappointing season. The question is whether Gerets decides he can bring the once-promising French under-21 player back into form or decide to sell him off and seek someone else.

Marseille is also interested in Onyewu's current teammate, striker Milan Jovanovic, to strenghen its attack. So, talks between the two teams won't necessarily mean that Onyewu is in play, although a package deal is remotely possible. With a price tag estimated at $16.6 million, Jovanovic may be too pricey for Marseille, which might settle for bringing in veteran striker Henrik Larsson from Helsingborg of Sweden (for an estimated $6.9 million).

There has also been interest in Onyewu from Borussia Mönchengladbach of the German Bundesliga, a club struggling to avoid relegation. If 'Gladbach has any chance for Onyewu, it would not be until next summer. Another nearby Bundesliga club, 1FC Cologne was also interested, but whether its interest has continued is not known.

With Onyewu's contract ending at the end of the season, this would seem to be Standard's last chance to sell Onyewu before he becomes a free transfer. Still, the team might not want to lose him at whatever price Marseille might offer. Standard led Group C in this year's UEFA Cup and opens the Round of 16 in February against Braga of Portugal. If Standard wins, it will likely meet Paris Saint-Germain, another team that reportedly has some interest in Onyewu.

Possibly, Standard will be willing to sacrifice a transfer fee in an attempt to go deep into the UEFA Cup.

Defending champion Standard ended the first half of the Jupiler League season with a 2-1 victory over KAA Gent and now sits in second place with a 10-3-4 record and 34 points, four points behind arch-rival Anderlecht (12-3-2).

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent. Chris Courtney writes the blog Letters From Vagabondia.

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