Dempsey beats Friedel, allowing Fulham to draw 2-2 with Villa.
By Robert Wagman
(in Washington, D.C.)
(Wednesday, February 9, 2011) - With a full slate of games last weekend, English Premier League clubs completed a busy period in which many played three games in nine days or less.
On Saturday, United States midfielder Clint Dempsey's sharp header beat fellow American, goalkeeper Brad Friedel late to give visiting Fulham a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Friedel was sharp for most of the match, making three saves, including stopping Steve Sidwell's twisting bullet in the 18th minute and another from the former Villa midfielder on the hour.
With Villa having taken a 2-1 lead six minutes earlier on Kyle Walker's tally, Friedel came out of his net in the 78th minute, trying to corral Danny Murphy's corner kick. Friedel never got to the ball after Dempsey screened him off and headed his 10th goal of the season -- ninth in league play -- into the vacated net.
Friedel made up for the lapse when, in the final minute, he laid out to stop a wicked drive from Andrew Johnson.
Newly-arrived U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley did not dress for Villa.
American defender Eric Lichaj, who did not dress for the three Villa matches during the busy spell, was loaned to Leeds United of the second-tier League Championship for one month.
This is the third loan for Lichaj since signing with Villa in 2009, previously being sent Lincoln City and Leyton Orient.
Last Wednesday, Dempsey went the distance in a hard fought 1-0 victory over visiting Newcastle United. On January 30, he played 90 minutes and was taken down for a penalty kick in an easy 4-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Friedel, meanwhile, had three saves in Villa's 3-1 win January 29 over EPL foe Blackburn Rovers in their fourth-round FA Cup match.
U.S. keeper Tim Howard was not credited with a save for host Everton, which used four goals by Louis Saha to outscor Blackpool 5-3 in a frantic match at Goodison Park Saturday.
Howard was much sharper on January 29, making four saves in a 1-1 draw with visiting Chelsea in an FA Cup clash with Chelsea, forcing a replay.
Howard also made four saves February 1 in a 2-1 loss at Arsenal.
American keeper Marcus Hahnemann continues to sit on the Wolverhampton Wanderers' bench for league matches, an amazing 2-1 upset over Manchester United Saturday -- United's first league loss this season and a 1-0 loss last weekend at Bolton Wanderers.
Hahnemann did get the start January 30, his nine saves not enough to prevent the EPL's Stoke City drom winning 1-0 in the FA Cup.
It was a busy week for U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden. On Saturday, he went 86 minutes for Bolton Wanderers in a 2-1 loss to host Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in a strange match.
In the sixth minute, Spurs midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart converted a penalty kick, two minutes before he twice missed with penalties after his first failure was ordered to be retaken after Bolton encroachment.
Holden played well, helping Wanderers tie the game in the 55th minute on Daniel Sturridge's goal, only to lose when Spurs prevailed on a Niko Kranjcar strike in stoppage time.
Last Wednesday. Holden went in Bolton's defeat of Wolves. On January 29, he came off the bench and played 16 minutes, receiving a yellow card in a 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, necessitating a replay this week.
German-American Jermaine Jones went 79 minutes on the back-line for Blackburn Rovers, which fell 4-3 Saturday Wigan Athletic. He received a yellow card in the 72nd minute.
Last Wednesday, Jones went 64 minutes and received a yellow card in a 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur. He was dressed, but did not play in the 3-1 FA Cup loss to Aston Villa.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector is recovering from a hamstring injury and been unavailable to West Ham United, including Sunday's 1-0 loss to Birmingham City.
In the League Championship, U.S. keeper Brad Guzan continues to enjoy his loan from Aston Villa to Hull City, recording strong efforts in two Hull triumphs. On Saturday, he had four saves as Hull easily overcame Scunthorpe United 5-1 on the road. He was beaten on a header by Scunthorpe's Joe Garner in the 55th minute, but otherwise was untouched, including stopping a rocket from Mark Duffy in the 31st minute.
On February 1, Guzan made eight saves in a 2-2 draw with Leeds United. Two days earlier, he made five saves in a 0-0 draw with visiting Queens Park Rangers.
American defender Zak Whitbread went the distance for Norwich City in a 2-1 loss to Burnley. On February 1, he did not leave the bench in a 2-1 decision over Millwall. Two days prior, he played 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.
Irish forward Conor Doyle of McKinney, Texas, was on the bench for Derby County, but did not play in a 1-1 draw Saturday at Portsmouth.
On February 1, he also remained tethered to the bench in a 2-1 road loss to Ipswich Town.
American striker Robbie Findley is out injured at Nottingham Forest and forward Mike Grella is in limbo at Leeds United after his loan away from the club did not go through. He did not dress for Leeds in its 1-0 win Saturday over Coventry City.
In the third-division League One, American defender Frank Simek did not dress for Carlisle United in its 3-0 loss last night to Huddersfield Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but Carlisle still advanced to championship match at Wembley Satdium by virtue of a 4-3 aggregate victory in the Northern Section final series.
In League One, Simek went 90 minutes for Carlisle in its 3-1 road loss Saturday to Walsall. On February 1, Simek went the distance in a 2-0 road loss to Huddersfield Town.
American midfielder Anton Peterlin remained on the bench for Plymouth Argyle in its last two matches, both losses, 2-0 to Brentford 2-1 to Bournemouth.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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