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List of Americans Abroad

Howard concedes bad PK, goal; Everton still draws 1-1 with Chelsea.

Friedel considers return to Columbus Crew as player-coach.

Spector's first two goals in six years lead West Ham to shocking rout of Man. U.

Dempsey assumes Fulham lead in goals, provides draw with Birmingham.

Riding the bench in Greece, Adu tries to find home in Denmark.

Holden's scores first EPL goal, adds assist in Bolton triumph.

Edu's goal before early exit gives Rangers 1-1 draw with Inverness.

With Edu in midfield, Rangers down Celtic to stay atop Premier League.

Neck injury to disable Bocanegra for at least three weeks.

Dempsey strike helps Fulham to another draw, 1-1 with West Ham.

Feilhaber's four goals (two winners) lead to pair of Aarhus victories.

Dempsey's first goal allows Fulham to draw 1-1 with Rovers.

Howard helps Everton pick up surprise point from Manchester United.

Villa beats Everton; Friedel bests Howard in meeting of American keepers.

Hahnemann, Howard meet; Everton, Wolves draw 1-1.

Altidore scores for Villareal, hopes it's his ticket to stay.

Adu is looking for team after Benfica cuts him loose.

Bocanegra moves across France to Saint Etienne.

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Americans Abroad

Friedel's future is unclear as Villa searches for replacement.

Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel's tenure with Aston Villa might end as soon as January.
-- Aston Villa web site photo --
By Robert Wagman
   (in Washington, D.C.)

(Wednesday, December 15, 2010) -- A month ago, veteran United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel and his agent were negotiating with Aston Villa for an extension on his contract which runs out at the end of this English Premier League season. Then, Frenchman Gerard Houllier took over as manager of the struggling club and announced that while he acknowledged that the 39-year-old Friedel was still performing at a high standard, he felt an immediate need was to bring in a younger world-class keeper who would join Villa for the long run.

So, Friedel's contract extension talks were abandoned and Villa announced that Friedel could leave as early as January, should he choose, if the club signed the keeper it was seeking.

High on Houllier's list was Glasgow Rangers' Allan McGregor, whom is 28. Rangers said they would be willing to let McGregor go for the right price, that being a multi-million dollar transfer fee, one high enough to allow them to buy two or three needed field players.

Now, Rangers are saying McGregor is not for sale, although that might be a negotiating tactic to drive up his transfer price now that wealthy Spanish club Sevilla is apparently very interested in him.

Enter Manchester United's out-of-favor backup keeper, Polish international Tomasz Kuszczak. It has become clear that after United signed keeper Anders Lindegaard that Kuszczak will not be the successor to current stopper Edwin Van Der Sar, though Houllier's ardor for Kuszczak might be cooling.

In recent days, Houllier's attention is said to have turned to Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, who will be available on a free transfer. Weidenfeller is considered by many to be the hottest keeper in the German Bundesliga so far this season with eight clean sheets in 16 matches.

However, Weidenfeller might not be available until after the season and, if that is the case, Friedel might find himself in Villa's nets through May. Houllier says that would be fine with him and that will keep Friedel earning his reported $63,000-plus per week.

That would not allow him to make a move in January. There has been a persistent rumor that he is being offered a player-coach job with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, but Crew technical director Brian Bliss is throwing cold water on the rumors. "I haven't had any discussions with Brad about this," he told the Columbus Dispatch.

Friedel played for the Crew in 1996 and 1997, the first two years of MLS, and he currently runs several very successful summer youth soccer camps in Ohio. Bliss said he sees Friedel every summer when he is in town to run his camps and that Friedel had expressed a desire to perhaps end his career with the Crew.

Villa is in 14th place in the Premier League at 5-7-5 with 20 points and Houllier has come under heavy fire from home fans for the club's continued poor showing. Friedel has emerged in the British media as Houllier's staunchest supporter.

Friedel told the English media that Villa won't see the full rewards of appointing Houllier until he has had time to build his own team. "People are going to have to judge Gerard after he has had a couple of transfer windows and once we have a full complement of players in the squad," Friedel said.

Friedel's backup, American Brad Guzan, has an uncertain future with Villa. Houllier has not publicly discussed his plans for Guzan, whose playing time has been limited to early-round Cup matches, but it is clear that Guzan is not in line to succeed Friedel. Whether he will remain the backup is unclear, but U.S. men's coach Bob Bradley has said Guzan needs to be playing regularly and that is not going to happen under Houllier.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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