Altidore gets start up top, but Hull City is blanked by visiting Birmingham.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Monday, September 21, 2009) -- When Villareal of Spain loaned Jozy Altidore to Hull City of the English Premier League, it was hoped the young American striker would receive increased playing time. Yet, when Hull acquired veteran Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink from Celtic of Scotland on the last day of the summer transfer period, it looked like Altidore's hope for more playing time might be in jeopardy.
On Saturday, Hull manager Phil Brown surprised many by starting both Altidore and Vennegoor of Hesselink in tandem against Birmingham City in what turned out to be a disappointing 1-0 home loss.
Altidore played 64 minutes before coming out in favor of Kamel Ghilas. In the first half, Altidore nearly scored from a scrum in the penalty area, but his shot rebounded off a defender. Early in the second half, he cut sharply into the box from the right side, but keeper Joe Hart parried away his left-footed shot.
Given Hull's lack of attack, it will be interesting to see whether Altidore and Vennegoor of Hesselink will keep their starting roles.
Hull shares the 25,000-seat Kingston Communications Stadium with Hull FC, a very popular Super Rugby League team. So quite often, as was the case last weekend, a soccer match is played on a field chewed up by rugby and with the rugby lines clearly showing. This is the subject of much derision around the Premier League.
United States goalkeeper Tim Howard posted a pair of clean sheets in the past week, including helping Everton stop its worst start in a decade, going 1-3. .
On Thursday, Howard went the distance in Everton's 4-0 Europa League victory over visiting AEK Athens at Goodison Park. Howard had an easy night, called on to make only three saves, while AEK had Carlos Araujo sent off in the 55th minute. Everton kept AEK under constant pressure.
On Sunday, Howard had four saves and blanked Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in league play.
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey went 62 minutes in Fulham's 2-1 road loss to Wolverhampton. Fulham did not generate much offense and scored only on a penalty kick.
American Marcus Hahnemann was in his usual spot on Wolves' bench as the backup keeper.
On Thursday. Fulham manager Roy Hodgson left six regulars at home, including Dempsey, but still managed a 1-1 draw with CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria in the Europa League, Europe's second tier tournament.
American striker Eddie Johnson didn't dress for Fulham's match with Wolves, but he scored an important goal for Fulham in a 1-1 Reserve League draw at Birmingham's Solihull Moors.
Gary McSheffrey gave Birmingham the lead with a penalty kick in the 69th minute. Eleven minutes later, Johnson controlled in the box and triggered a quick shot that beat keeper Colin Doyle.
American keeper Brad Friedel recorded a clean sheet Saturday when host Aston Villa defeated last-place Portsmouth 2-0 at Villa Park.
Friedel had six saves with his best coming in the 39th minute when he hit the ground to knock away a low, skidding drive from Jamie O'Hara. In the 59th minute, Friedel dove to his left to deny Kevin-Prince Boateng's stinging low blast.
With West Ham defender Herita Ilunga back from injury, U.S. defender Jonathan Spector was back on the bench and did not play in West Ham United's 3-2 loss to Liverpool.
In second-division League Championship, U.S. Defender Jay DeMerit continues to rehab a groin strain and did not dress for Watford's 3-3 draw with Leicester City or its 1-0 win at Plymouth earlier in the week.
American defender Frank Simek was dressed, but did not play in Sheffield Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Sheffield United.
In the third-tier League One, American forward Jemal Johnson played 90 minutes in MK Dons' 1-0 decision at Wycombe.
American striker Mike Grella played the final nine minutes of Leed United's 4-1 triumph over Gillingham.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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