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Americans In The UK: Altidore And Dempsey Shine

By: Matthew Braine

After taking a week-long hiatus catching some sights and matches in England, it’s time for me to get back to covering the American boys and their exploits over the pond. Tim Howard and Everton have hit rock bottom after dropping their first two league fixtures, while Friedel and company don’t look much better in league and European play.

 On the bright side, it looks as though Clint Dempsey is no fluke. His team-leading goal scoring tally from last year, combined with his Confederations Cup domination must have given him even more confidence as he’s looked sharp thus far.  After helping set up a whacky goal to start Fulham’s season, he then scored in European play against FK Amkar Perm. The Cottagers don’t look like their taking this Europa League as a holiday but rather a proving ground. Further north, there is another attacking American looking to make an impact. His name may be familiar with American and Spanish fans alike, but Jozy Altidore will be attracting a new set of supporters after he made an immediate impact on his debut, setting up a superb winning goal just moments after entering the game. 

It was an exciting opening two weeks for most of the Americans, and for the yanks playing below the top flight, an eventful three weeks. MK Dons’ Jemal Johnson has been particularly noteworthy as he has taken on a leadership role within the attack and has played nearly every minute this season. Some Americans in Scotland, however, are still waiting to touch the grass during game time.  

Premiership:

Tim Howard, Everton

Vs. Arsenal, 1-6, (90 minutes, 3 saves, 6 goals conceded)
Vs. Sigma Olomouc, 4-0, (90 minutes, 1 save, 0 goals conceded)
Vs. Burnley, 1-0, (90 minutes, 2 saves, 1 goal conceded)


Everton got off to a dreadful start last Saturday as they suffered their biggest home defeat in 41 years, losing 1-6 to Arsenal.  Arsenal did the same deed back in ’58 and it was just as ugly on Saturday. Howard looked helpless at times as the Gunners did anything they wanted on the attack.  Denilson, Thomas Vermaelen, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas, and Eduardo all tallied for the London club, with Fabregas going twice. Dropping uneasy defender Joleon Lescott from the starting XI going into their first European match of the season seemed a bit risky, but Everton easily dominated their competition, routing Sigma 4-0. Jack Rodwell notched a brace between each of Louis Saha’s goals as the Toffees took a commanding lead in the first leg of their tie. Howard’s day was relatively easy as he only had to make just one save. Unable to build on their Europa League triumph, Everton fell to Premier League newcomers Burnley 1-0 on Sunday. Wade Elliot scored the only goal of the match in the 34th minute when he curled in an easy shot past Howard. The Blues had a chance to equalize in the 76th minute when Tony Hibbert was awarded a shaky penalty after going down inside the box; however, Louis Saha botched the ensuing try, sending his shot wide. Everton sit rock bottom of the league, still winless, but will look to get some points on the board this weekend when they host Wigan.

Up Next: Thursday, away to Sigma Olomouc (Europa League) and Sunday, home to Wigan Athletic.


Anton Peterlin and Cody Arnoux, Everton.

No action in the first team for either new American, but this Tuesday should officially launch both of their Everton careers.

Up Next: Tuesday August 25 vs. Burnley Reserves.

 Brad Friedel, Aston Villa

Vs. Wigan Athletic, 0-2, (90 minutes, 5 saves, 2 goals conceded)


After all of their pre-season top four aspirations and last year’s tenacious run, the Birmingham club got off to an awful start, dropping their first home game of the season to Wigan. A poor defensive clearance from Nicky Shorey opened up a path for Hugo Rodalegga and he took advantage of it, launching a 20-yard effort past Friedel for the opening score. The striker almost made it another before the break but Friedel made an expert kick save. Charles N’Zogbia and Jason Koumas paired up for the second goal, with Koumas finishing the play off with a low strike past the big American.

Up Next: Monday, away to Liverpool, Thursday, home to Rapid Vienna (Europa League), and Sunday, home to Fulham.


Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa

Vs. Rapid Vienna, 1-0, (Guzan played 90 minutes, 3 saves, 1 goal conceded)


Guzan could barely put his water bottle down before his squad faced a deficit. Nikica Jelavic headed home the winning goal inside the first minute as the Austrian side earned a deserved 1-0 first leg lead. Guzan made a few solid saves the rest of the way, including a great stop from a vicious Christopher Drazan shot. However, the Villains will go into their second leg with everything to lose on Thursday. Lichaj was not included in either of his squad’s fixtures last week. 

Clint Dempsey, Fulham


Vs. Portsmouth, 0-1, (90minutes, 1 assist)
Vs. FK Amkar Perm, 3-1, (90 minutes, 1 goal)
Vs. Chelsea, 0-2, (90 minutes)


Fulham opened up their campaign in a winning and wacky fashion. In their opening match against Portsmouth, the winner came in the 13th minute courtesy of Bobby Zamora when Clint Dempsey blasted a 25-yard effort about 5 yards until it bounced off Zamora and into the net. It was an odd start, but nonetheless a successful one. The Cottagers continued their fine play on Thursday when they hosted FK Amkar Perm in the first leg of their Europa League tie. Andy Johnson opened up the scoring four minutes in after some nice build up play between Dempsey and Zamora. Then, in the 51st minute, Dempsey opened his scoring account with a brilliant long range effort into the top left corner. Zamora tacked on a third for the hosts in the 75th minute before Vitali Grishin salvaged a goal for the visitors. On Sunday, Fulham were simply outclassed by Chelsea and fell 0-2. Didier Drogba opened the scoring in the 39th minute and later put in a beautiful ball to Nicolas Anelka, who slipped by the keeper with ease and opened his account to make it 0-2.

Up Next: Thursday, away to FK Amkar Perm (Europa League) and Sunday, away to Aston Villa.

Eddie Johnson, Fulham


Eddie Johnson made the substitutes list for the club’s European fixture but did not get on. He has not been made available in any league contest thus far.

Jonathan Spector, West Ham


Vs. Wolverhampton, 0-2, (25 minutes)
Vs. Tottenham, 1-2, (90 minutes)


In a match filled with a slew of near misses and fantastic saves, the Hammers edged out Wolves. Spector made an appearance in the first contest of the season, coming in the middle of the second half. He was around when Matthew Upson headed in the deciding goal off a corner piece. Spector obviously made an impression, as he started Sunday’s contest against Spurs. The home team got off to a flying start and had a 1-0 lead through Carlton Cole in the 49th minute. However, a poor pass from the striker led to Jermain Defoe’s equalizer just five minutes later. In the 79th minute it was Spector who would play the goat as he lost his footing in a crucial area, allowing Aaron Lennon the space to send in the winner. Although Spector made a critical error, the defender had his solid moments and should remain a vital piece in the defense going forward.

Up Next: Tuesday, home to Millwall (Carling Cup) and Saturday, away to Blackburn.

Marcus Hahnemann, Wolverhampton


Vs. Wigan Athletic, 1-0 (DNP)
Vs. Manchester City, 0-1 (DNP)


Hahnemann did not win the starting job for Wolves and had to watch from the bench as his squad split the first two contests of the season. Wayne Hennessey has manned the goal thus far and has done solid work through the first two league fixtures. Hahnemann could see action this week in cup competition, however.

Up Next: Tuesday, home to Swenson Town (Carling Cup) and Saturday, home to Hull.


Jozy Altidore, Hull City


Vs. Bolton, 1-0, (30 minutes, 1 assist)


After being held out of Hull’s first contest, a 1-5 slaughter at the hands of Spurs, due to transfer paperwork, Altidore made his Premier League debut on Saturday against Bolton. It was a fine debut indeed, as he set up the winning goal just 30 seconds after coming into the match when he flicked a bicycle style kick over a defender onto Kamel Ghilas, who then put in the only goal of the match. It was a fine and sneaky touch from Altidore, one that many Hull fans hope to see again in the near future.

Up Next: Tuesday, home to Southend United (Carling Cup) and Saturday, away to Wolverhampton.

Championship Round-Up:

Jay DeMerit, Watford

Vs. Sheffield United, 2-0, (90 minutes)
Vs. Nottingham Forest, 2-4, (90 minutes)
Vs. Blackpool, 2-2, (90 minutes)


DeMerit got the day off two weeks ago when Watford visited Barnet in Carling Cup action. The visitors ran off 0-2 winners and progressed to the next round. That Saturday, DeMerit was back in action but this time Sheffield United were the opposition and this time, it was a loss that was in the cards. It was an overall poor display for Watford, who fell 2-0. However, they made up for it last Tuesday by downing Forest 2-4 on the road before drawing with Blackpool at home 2-2. After four matches in league play, Watford look a lot like the club they were last year; middle of the road. They currently sit in position 12.

Up Next: Tuesday, away to Leeds (Carling Cup) and Saturday, away to Swansea City.

Frank Simek, Sheffield Wednesday


Vs. Rochdale, 3-0, (90 minutes)

 

Simek got the start two weeks ago against Rochdale in a Carling Cup tie. Behind Jermaine Johnson’s brace and a goal from Etienne Essajas, the Owls progressed easily into the next round. However, that was the only game in which Simek would feature in as he remained on the bench for the following three contests. Wednesday drew 1-1 against Peterborough United, lost 1-0 at Newcastle, and thumped Scunthorpe United 4-0. Simek is most likely still building up tolerance for that bothersome ankle and could play on Tuesday in cup action.

Up Next: Tuesday, away to Port Vale (Carling Cup) and Saturday, away to Plymouth.        

League One:

Jemal Johnson, Milton Keynes Dons


Vs. Swindon Town, 1-4, (90 minutes)
Vs. Swindon Town, 0-0, (90 minutes)
Vs. Tranmere Rovers, 0-1, (86 minutes, 1 assist)
Vs. Colchester United, 2-1, (80 minutes)

 

The Dons were knocked out of the Carling Cup early as they fell to Swindon Town two weeks ago in a very lopsided affair. The two teams met just a few days later in league play but played to a scoreless draw. Things finally got rolling for the club last Saturday when they emerged victorious after a late winner from Jabo Ibehre. Johnson set up the goal with a nice cross which Ibehre put in easily. The club continued their winning ways this past Saturday as they put down Colchester United 2-1. Johnson wasn’t involved in either goal but has been consistent so far this season, playing in every game and missing just 14 minutes of action in five contests to date.

Up Next: Saturday, away to Exeter City.


Mike Grella, Leeds United

Vs. Darlington, 0-1, (83 minutes)
Vs. Tranmere Rovers, 3-0, (6 minutes)


Grella got the start two Mondays ago in Carling Cup action and played nearly the entire contest upfront. It was Enoch Showunmi who pounced on a corner to give Leeds the winning goal in the 54th minute and with that progression into the next round. Leeds defeated Wycombe 0-1 on the road last Saturday however, Grella did not feature. On Tuesday Leeds once again triumphed on the road over Walsall 1-2 but same story for the young striker. However, this past Saturday, Grella came on late and was in the action when Luciano Becchio tallied Leeds’ third goal of the day to complete the flawless start for the club.

Up Next: Tuesday, home to Watford (Carling Cup) and Saturday, away to Colchester United.


 Ian Joyce, Southend United


Vs. Walsall 2-2, Wycombe Wanderers 1-1, Millwall 0-0 (All DNP)


 Joyce could see some action as the keeper in cup competitions this season and there is one coming up this week against Hull on Tuesday.

Up Next: Tuesday, away to Hull (Carling Cup) and Saturday, away to Swindon Town.


Zak Whitbread, Millwall

With no buyers in sight right now, Whitbread opted to have hip surgery which will keep him out of action for about three months.

Meanwhile Up In Scotland…

DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu, Rangers


Vs. Falkirk, 4-1 (Both DNP)
Vs. Heart of Midlothian, 1-2 (Both DNP)


 Rangers opened up their season with a ringing 4-1 destruction of Falkirk at the Ibrox Stadium.  Beasley was on the bench but did not feature. On Sunday, Kris Boyd converted a last-second penalty to give Rangers an exciting 1-2 win at Heart of Midlothian. Beasley was once again an unused substitute. Edu was not available for either contest as he is still recovering from injury.

Up Next: Saturday, home to Hamilton Academical.

Americans in the UK appears every Monday on Goal.com