Friedel, Aston Villa fade in English Premier League despite unbeaten streak.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Thursday, March 25, 2010) -- American Brad Friedel was in the Aston Villa net for a disappointing 1-1 home draw last night with Sunderland.
Villa has not lost in its last seven English Premier League outings, but with it's second straight draw against a team with a losing record, it is only 2-0-5 over that span and has dropped 10 possible points in its pursuit of a berth in the next European Champions League or even a spot in the second-tier Europa League. At 13-5-12 with 51 points, Villa is tied for sixth place (and the second guaranteed Europa berth) and has a game in hand on Liverpool (15-10-6). (The Premier League might later be awarded another Europa spot.)
With eight matches remaining, the Champions League play-in round is not beyond reach with Villa trailing fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur (16-7-7) by four points.
Friedel made two saves against Sunderland, which stands 13th in the 20-team league at 6-12-11 with 29 points.
Sunderland went ahead 1-0 in the 22nd minute when striker Frazier Campbell ran onto a cross and lofted a shot past Friedel. Eight minutes later, Villa evened the count at 1-1 on a goal by forward John Carew.
Friedel preserved the draw in the second half by diving full-length to turn a blast from Campbell around a post.
In a battle with Aston Villa fellow American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, Friedel watched two shots go by in a 2-2 draw with visiting Wolverhampton in their Midlands derby Saturday at Villa Park.
Wolves, who squandered a 2-1 advantage, are in 15th place at 8-16-7 (31 points).
In the first half, both keepers were badly let down by their respective defenses. Villa scored first when Carew was left completely unmarked three yards from goal and simply converted into an open goal a low cross that passed several defenders.
Friedel's support was just as spotty. Villa's normally tight defense let a free kick bounce in the goal-mouth and when it bounced to right defender Jody Craddock, he also sent a shot into plenty of open net in the 23rd minute. .
Fifteen minutes later, Wolves went ahead 2-1 when Villa defender James Milner slid and put a Wolves cross into his own net past a flat-footed Friedel, who made one save in the affair
Carew tied the game by beating Hahnemann with a low shot in the 82nd minute.
In the second half Villa threw everything forward and were rewarded in the 82nd minute when Carew scored his second of the match sticking out a foot to guide a low shot past Hahnemann to knot the score.
American keeper Brad Guzan was on the Villa bench as Friedel's backup in both matches.
U.S. keeper Tim Howard posted his second clean sheet in four days for Everton, which played a strong game in defeating host Manchester City 2-0.
Howard made four saves, including a dandy to deny Carlos Tevez. The two rival managers, City's Roberto Mancini and Everton's David Moyes nearly came to blows as the match ended and City saw its Champions League qualification hopes suffer a major setback.
Manchester is 14-5-11 with 53 points and fell to fifth place, two points behind Tottenham and the second Champions League play-in berth.
Howard was sharp for Everton, making several key saves in a 2-0 decision over the visiting Bolton Wanderers Saturday.
Everton remained scoreless until the 70th minute when Bolton's Gretar Rafn Steinsson was sent off with a red card. It took only two minutes for Mikel Arteta to give Everton the lead and Steven Pienaar added an insurance goal in the 89th minute.
Fulham's FA Cup hopes came to an end in the quarterfinals Wednesday night with a 3-1 loss away at Tottenham Hotspur. U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey who is still not completely match-fit after a knee injury, came off the bench in the 69th minute, but Fulham could not break through Spurs' defensive shell in the late going.
Dempsey also was a second-half substitute, entering in the 52nd minute Saturday when Fulham fell to 2-1. Dempsey played as a withdrawn striker in the center of the field and had a couple of chances, but he could not get off a decent shot. Fulham, which trailed 2-0 after 36 minutes, narrowed its deficit on Danny Murphy's penalty kick in the 75th minute, but its intense attacking pressure over the final 10 minute proved fruitless.
Hull City hired a new manager in Iain Dowie and U.S. striker Jozy Altidore did not dress for his first match, a 3-2 loss at Portsmouth. Caleb Folan was in the starting lineup, while Altidore was reportedly suffering from slight hamstring tightness.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector went 90 minutes for relegation-threatened West Ham United, which put up a struggle before falling to Arsenal 2-0.
After falling behind early, the Hammers had a chance to level before halftime when Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia saved Alessandro Diamanti's penalty. West Ham fought hard in the second half, but did not produce many opportunities and then Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas converted a penalty kick following a hand-ball by Matthew Upson.
In the second-tier League Championship Wednesday, U.S> defender Jay DeMerit went the distance for Watford, which dropped another in a 2-1 loss at Sheffield Wednesday.
American defender Frank Simek dressed, but didn't play for Sheffield
On Saturday, DeMerit did not make Watford's trip to Cardiff City with what was described as a back injury suffered in Watford's 2-1 home victory over Ipswich Town.
In a related matter, Watford chief executive Julian Winter told the media this week that, given the club's weak financial condition, he thinks the club's inability to pay high salaries will result in a number of players leaving after the season on free transfers. That group would probably include DeMerit.
Simek dressed, but did not play in Sheffield Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Derby County Saturday. He also did not play in a 2-2 draw with Preston North End.
After recovering from a knee injury, American striker Kenny Cooper moved from 1860 Munich in the German second division to Plymouth Argyle of the Championship to play for Argyle manager Paul Mar, the former assistant coach for Major League Soccer's New England Revolution. Cooper moved to increase his playing minutes in an attempt to make the U.S. World Cup team this summer.
Cooper did not play when Argyle defeated Bristol City 3-2 and did not dress for a 2-1 loss to Scunthorpe United.
In Scotland, Glasgow Rangers' hopes of a triple came to an end with a 1-0 Scottish Cup quarterfinal loss at Dundee United. U.S. midfielders Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley went the distance for Rangers.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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