Training injury sends Dempsey to sideline for end of record season.
By Robert Wagman
(in Washington, D.C.)
(Friday, May 11, 2012) -- Fulham's American midfielder Clint Dempsey will miss the club's final match of the season against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after injuring an abductor muscle in training for the final day of the English Premier League season.
"Clint is injured so he won't play on Sunday," Gulham manager Martin Jol told his club's web site. "He's got a problem with his left abductor so he won't be involved."
Fulham is humming right along, led by Dempsey, who curled a 12th-minute free kick into the right corner of the net to help Fulham to a 2-1 victory over visiting Sunderland at Craven Cottage.
The goal was Dempsey's 17th Premier League goal this season and 23rd in all competitions. He has now scored in 15 consecutive matches at Craven Cottage.
It was Dempsey's 50th career Premier League goal, the most ever by any American in the Premier League and the most ever by a Fulham player. He has also found net 25 times for the United States men, including goals in each of the last two World Cups.
Last week, Dempsey placed fourth in voting for "Player of the Year" among soccer journalists in England and could be a hot item in this summer's transfer market though he remains under contract to Fulham.
Fulham has a chance to have its best finish since being promoted to the Premier League for the 2001-2002 season. With Sunday's match remaining, the Cottagers are tied with Liverpool at 14-13-10 with 52 points though Liverpool is in eighth place by virtue of owning the tiebreaker with a goal differential that is nine better than Fulham's. In seventh place is Everton at 14-12-11 with 53 points.
Fulham's best campaign in the Premier League came in 2008-09, winding up in seventh place at 14-13-11 with points.
American goalkeeper Brad Friedel did not make a save and Tottenham Hotspur let a huge opportunity slip through its fingers Sunday, dominating visiting Aston Villa from the opening whistle, but managing only a 1-1 draw in the English Premier League.
By earning only one point in the standings instead of three for a victory, Spurs failed to vault into third place, which brings an automatic berth in the group phase of the European Champions League.
Spurs outshot Villa 22-4, but trailed 1-0 at halftime. Tottenham defender Danny Ross was sent off was sent off in the 50th minute and Spurs tied the game 14 minutes later on a goal by Emmanuel Adebayor, but could do no more down a man.
Friedel could do little to stop Ciaran Clark's 35th-minute deflected goal against the run of play. Clark let fly from 30 yards out and Friedel had it covered when it hit the shoulder of defender William Gallas, changed direction, and flew into the net.
U.S. defender Eric Lichaj played 90 minutes for Aston Villa.
With the season ending after this weekend's matches, Arsenal is fourth at 20-10-7 with 67 points, followed by Spurs at 19-9-9 with 66 points and Newcastle United at 19-10-8 with 65 points.
Tottenham closes Sunday at home against Fulham. With a victory, Tottenham could claim third place, but, at worst, would finish fourth and ear a spot in the Champions League play-in round. Spurs and Newcastle remained alive to overtake Arsenal for third place after the Gunners were upset at home by lowly Wigan Athletic, followed by a 3-3 draw Saturday over Norwich City.
Arsenal finishes at West Bromwich Albion, while Newcastle travels to Everton.
The standings point Aston Villa earned Sunday against Spurs was a big one for Villa because it guaranteed it will not be relegated to the second division.
American keeper Brad Guzan, who was paid $1.7 million, according to one source, to sit on the Villa bench, has been offered a new two-year contract. Had Villa been relegated, starting keeper, Irish international Shea Given, might have moved on. Now things likely will stay the same. So Guzan needs to decide whether to take the money or find a team for which he can start. There are quite a few, but likely it would entail a cut in pay.
In other EPL action Sunday, U.S. keeper Tim Howard earned his 12th clean sheet of the season without making a save for Everton, which produced a lackluster 0-0 draw with the relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers. He was not credited with a save.
American keeper Marcus Hahnemann did not dress for Everton.
American defender Tim Ream played 90 minutes for Bolton Wanderers in a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Bolton gave up a late goal to surrender the draw and now will need a win next week against Stoke City and a Queens Park Rangers loss to avoid relegation. Bolton is at the top of the drop zone in 18th place at 10-22-5 with 35 points, two behind QPR (10-20-7).
Stuart Holden, still recovering from knee surgery, is finished for the season.
American defender Zak Whitbread still has an ailing groin and missed Norwich City's 3-3 draw with Arsenal on Saturday.
Seventeen-year-old Welsh-American defender Adam Henley did not dress Monday night for Blackburn Rovers in a 1-0 loss to Wigan Athletic.
In the second tier English League Championship, U.S. defender Jonathan Spector returned from injury and played the final 15 minutes for Birmingham City in its 1-0 loss to Blackpool in the first leg of their promotion playoffs semifinal last Friday. In Wednesday's return leg, Spector started and lasted 44 minutes, but City could only manage a 2-2 draw and was eliminated 3-2 on aggregate.
The season is over for all other Americans playing in the League Championship.
In the final weekend of the regular season in the third-division League One, American defender Frank Simek played 90 minutes for Carlisle United in a 2-1 loss to Oldham.
American forward Mike Grella played 62 minutes for Bury, a 3-0 loser to Stevenage.
American midfielder Anton Peterlin did not dress for Walsall in its 1-0 decision over MK Dons.
In Scotland, U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu and defender Carlos Bocanegra went the distance for Glasgow Rangers in a 0-0 draw with Motherwell.
American midfielder Alejandro Bedoya played the final 25 minutes for Rangers.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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