Guzan, Aston Villa are shelled in pair of Premier League routs.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Wednesday, December 26, 2012) -- Many of Europe's leagues are now on their winter breaks, but not England, where historically they play a very crowded holiday schedule that sees most teams playing five matches in a little over two weeks.
United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan and his Aston Villa teammates will be trying desperately to forget their last two games, giving up 12 goals while scoring none in the English Premier League. In Guzan's case, he actually played quite well, despite being beaten a dozen times. Without his valiant effort, the final score lines would have been much worse.
It started on Sunday, when Villa was drubbed 8-0 by Chelsea. Guzan made seven saves, several spectacular, including stopping a penalty kick, but he faced an avalanche of shots.
Villa's defense included American Eric Lichaj before he was pulled in the 56th minute.
In today's Boxing Day matchup, Villa came up short 4-0 to Tottenham Hotspur.
Guzan was again sharp, making five saves and keeping Spurs off the scoresheet until the 57th minute when Jermain Defoe beat several defenders to a through ball and put it past the stranded Guzan. That opened the floodgates and an almost helpless Villa defense allowed Gareth Bale to score three times as he ran around and through the Villa defense.
Lichaj did not play.
Speaking of Tottenham, U.S. attacker Clint Dempsey had an ineffective outing a week ago against Swansea City before being replaced in the 70th minute. It turned out the reason was he had suffered a minor groin strain, enough to keep him from dressing in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Stoke City or today's victory at Villa.
Likewise, American keeper Brad Friedel was on the Spurs bench, a backup for Frenchman Hugo Lloris, now manager Andre Villas-Boas' first choice. Still, it was announced that Friedel had signed a one-year contract extension to include the 2013-14 season, when he will be 43 years-old. Today, at 41, he is the oldest player in the Premier League.
"Very happy about the new contract!" Friedel said via Twitter. "As I have always said, I'm very happy here and will help Spurs in any role!!"
U.S. keeper Tim Howard provided something of a counterpoint to Guzan's disastrous holiday weekend. Although he did not have a lot to do in either match, he and Everton cruised to a pair of 2-1 wins, against West Ham United on Saturday and against Wigan Athletic today. He had a total of three saves in the two matches.
With American Geoff Cameron on defense, Stoke stretched its unbeaten streak to nine (5-0-4) with the scoreless draw with Tottenham on Saturday followed by an impressive 3-1 defeat of Liverpool.
Cameron turned in a solid effort against Spurs. Against Liverpool today, he and his defense survived a shaky start. Liverpool went ahead on a penalty kick in the second minute.
Then, in a 60-second span, starting in the 4th minute, Cameron committed two fouls, drawing a yellow card on the second one. From that point, the Stoke defense squelched Liverpool completely.
In the second-tier English League Championship, American defender Will Packwood played 90 minutes for Birmingham City, which used seven teenagers in a 2-2 draw Saturday with Burnley. Today, Packwood did not dress in a 2-1 decision over Barnsely.
American defender Jonathan Spector has an ankle injury and was not available for City.
American defender Zak Whitbread went the distance in a pair of matches for Leicester City -- Saturday's 1-0 loss to Cardiff City and today's 0-0 draw with Hull City.
American defender Tim Ream went 90 minutes today for Bolton Wanderers in a 1-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday. On Saturday, he dressed, but didn't play in a 5-4 loss to Peterborough United.
Irish-American striker Conor Doyle dressed, but didn't play for Derby County today in a 2-0 loss to Burnley. On Friday, he didn't dress in a 2-1 loss to Hull City.
American forward Robbie Findley did not dress for a pair of Nottingham Forest matches.
On Sunday, most third-tier League One matches were cancelled because of unplayable conditions after a week of rain. Today, American defender Frank Simek went 90 minutes for Carlisle United in a 3-0 whitewash of bottom-dwelling Hartlepool.
American midfielder Robbie Rogers did not dress for Stevenage today, while Mike Grella dressed, but did not play for Scunthorpe United in its 3-0 loss to Sheffield United.
In Italy, U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley and AS Roma closed out the first half of the Serie A season with a 4-2 triumph over AC Milan with Bradley playing 90 minutes.
In Spain's top-tier La Liga, American defender Oguchi Onyewu dressed, but did not play for Málaga, which upset Real Madrid 3-2.
In the Segunda Division, U.S. defender Carlos Bocanega went the distance for Racing Santander in its 1-1 draw with CD Guadalajara.
In the Netherlands, U.S. striker Jozy Altidore went the distance for AZ Alkmaar in its 3-0 loss to FC Twente.
In Belgium, U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan played 90 minutes for RSC Anderlecht in a 4-2 victory over Genk on Sunday.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
Do you have a comment on this story or something to say about soccer in general? Send us a letter.
©Copyright 2012 SoccerTimes.com. All Rights Reserved.