Guzan is sharp in first EPL start, Aston Villa's 2-1 win over Bolton.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Wednesday, December 14, 2011) -- United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan made the most of his first English Premier League start by making six good saves in a strong effort that allowed visiting Aston Villa to defeat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Saturday at Reebok Stadium.
A week earlier, Villa's normal starter, Irish international Shay Given, went down in the 36th minute and Guzan came off the bench to hold Manchester United scoreless for the remainder of the match, making two saves. A scan has shown Given's hamstring injury to be a tear that will keep him sidelined for three months or more. So, Guzan has been given the starter's job, at least until the winter break when Villa will have to decide if he is up to the job or else search for a keeper in the transfer market.
Guzan's performance against Bolton gave an indication he quite likely is up to the challenge. He twice stopped hard shots by Chris Eagles and two more by Kevin Davies, plus a stunner to deny Mark Davies. The only goal he gave up was in the 55th minute when he dove full out to deny Zat Knight, but no defender cleared the ball allowing Ivan Klasnic to tap the rebound in for Bolton.
Guzan joined Villa in 2008 and for three season backed up former U.S. keeper Brad Friedel, who never missed a game. Guzan played in a number of UEFA Cup matches and English League Cup and FA Cup contests, but no league matches. Last season, he was loaned to Hull City where he had 16 starts and was both effective and popular.
Hull wanted to buy his contract, but Villa said no. Before last week, Guzan had one Carling Cup start to show for the 2011-12 season.
The next few weeks will prove whether Guzan can play at the Premier League level and whether he should be penciled in as the backup for the U.S. in the next World Cup Brazil. A strong showing could solidify his relationship with Villa and get him a new contract. It could also make him transfer bait for several Premiership teams clearly in need of an upgrade in net.
With his injured hip, U.S. defender Eric Lichaj remained sidelined for Villa, while U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden is still recovering from knee surgery and unavailable to Bolton.Bolton.
In Portugal, U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu scored Sporting Lisbon's only goal in a 1-0 victory over CD Nacional de Madeira. A long free kick was flicked to the far side where Onyewu out-jumped the keeper and headed his second goal of the season into the net.
Elsewhere in the English Premier League, U.S> midfielder Clint Dempsey failed on a penalty kick and in his 200th match for Fulham Saturday, his club was upset by Swansea City 2-0.
U.S. Tim Howard made two saves, and played well in Everton's 1-0 loss to Arsenal on Saturday. Marcus Hahnemann did not dress for Everton.
Friedel had four saves, but it was not enough for Tottenham Hotspur, which fell 2-1 Sunday to Stoke City.
American defender Zak Whitbread, back from injury, played 83 minutes for Norwich City in a 4-2 triumph Saturday over Newcastle United.
In the second-division English League Championship, U.S. defender Jonathan Spector went the distance for Birmingham City in a 2-1 decision Saturday over Doncaster Rovers.
U.S. striker Robbie Findley dressed, but stayed on the bench Saturday for Nottingham Forest in a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace.
Irish-American forward Conor Doyle did not dress for Derby County in a 2-1 victory over Bristol City.
American defender Daniel Potts did not dress for West Ham United in a 3-0 loss to Reading.
In the third-tier League One, American midfielder Anton Peterlin played the final six minutes for Walsall in a 1-1 draw with Charlton Athletic.
American striker Mike Grella remained on the bench in Brentford's 2-1 triumph over Hartlepool United.
American defender Frank Simek is still hampered by an ailing hip and was not available to Carlisle United for its 2-1 win over Scunthorpe United.
In Scotland's Premier League, U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra has recovered from a leg injury and went the distance, receiving a yellow card for Glasgow Rangers in a 2-0 victory Saturday over Hibernian.
U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu played 88 minutes for Rangers and he too received a yellow card. U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya did not dress for Rangers.
In the second-tier First Division, American keeper Dominic Cervi was in net for Greenock Morton for a 2-1 loss to Partick Thistle.
In a meeting of American national-team players in the German Bundesliga, German-American defender-midfielder Fabian Johnson set up both goals for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, which defeated 1. FC Nürnberg 2-0.
In the first half, Hoffenheim's first goal was scored after Johnson crossed from the left side. The second tally came after intermission off another low cross from Johnson.
U.S. defender Timmy Chandler played for Nürnberg and was ejected in the 43rd minute with a red card. U.S. defender-midfielder Danny Williams played the final 24 minutes for Hoffenheim.
After sitting out a week, suspended for accumulated yellow cards, German-American midfielder Jermaine Jones went the distance and had a strong match for Schalke 04 in a 2-1 decision Friday over Hertha Berlin.
Jones received a yellow card, his sixth in six matches since he returned to Schalke's lineup. American midfielder Alfredo Morales did not dress for Hertha.
U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo again did not get off the bench for Hannover 96 in a 0-0 draw Saturday with Bayer Leverkusen. American David Yelldell was on the bench as Leverkusen's backup keeper.
German-American striker Terrence Boyd did not dress Sunday for Borussia Dortmund in its 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern.
In the second-division 2. Bundesliga, American attacker Matt Taylor played only the final minute for SC Paderborn 07 in a 2-0 victory Friday over Hansa Rostock.
American Luis Robles was the backup keeper for Karlsruher SC in a 3-1 loss to MSV Duisburg.
U.S. striker Edson Buddle did not dress for FC Ingolstadt 04 in a 1-0 win over St Pauli.
American forward Bobby Wood still has an injured knee and was unavailable for TSV 1860 Munich's 3-0 triumph over Eintracht.
U.S. midfielder Ricardo Clark did not dress for Eintracht Frankfurt in a 0-0 draw with SpVgg Greuther Fürth on Monday night.
In Italy, U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley went the distance and received a yellow card for Chievo Verona Sunday in its 2-1 loss to Udinese.
In the Netherlands, U.S. striker Jozy Altidore played 90 minutes, but was not involved in the scoring for AZ Alkmaar, which easily disposed of De Graafschap 4-0 on Saturday.
In Belgium, U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan went the distance Friday for RSC Anderlecht in a 2-1 loss to Mechelen.
In Mexico, Jonathan Bornstein was sidelined by injury for host Tigres UANL, which won 3-1 over Santos Laguna Sunday night for a 4-1 aggregate triumph in the Apertura final series.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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