By Matthew Braine
Eddie Johnson has arrived. The gifted striker had a week to remember as a Bluebird, leading Cardiff to two emphatic victories while garnering praise from fans and critics alike.
On Tuesday, Johnson was a man on fire, rampaging down the pitch with ferocity. The lanky forward played his part on nearly every Cardiff attack and capped off the day with a pretty assist to Peter Whittingham for the third and final goal. The 3-1 win over Barnsley earned Johnson Man of the Match honors but that was only the beginning.
Johnson opened his English goal-scoring account on Saturday, scoring the third goal for the Bluebirds as they pounded Doncaster 3-0. After Michael Chopra and Jay Bothroyd staked a solid two goal advantage for the home side, Bothroyd hobbled off in the 36th minute, being replaced by Johnson. The former Kansas City Wizard scored 15 minutes after the restart as he dribbled left along the top of the box and drilled a powerful low shot into the corner of goal. The crowd went berserk.
Michael Porter, a Cardiff City supporter for over 20 years emailed me to say, “I have never ever (apart from last season’s FA Cup) heard our fans erupt into a frenzy of noise and euphoria than when Eddie scored. He has become a bit of a cult hero now at Cardiff with the fans calling his name with chants of EDDIE and USA.”
It’s clear that Eddie Johnson has won over the Cardiff City supporters with his tremendous work ethic and unrelenting drive to succeed. Johnson certainly put up the best performance from an American in England last week.
Tim Howard, Everton
vs. Blackburn, 0-0, 90 minutes, 1 save, 0 goals conceded.
vs. Middlesbrough, 2-1, 90 minutes, 2 saves, 1 goal conceded.
Wednesday's draw will be looked upon as two points lost rather than one point won as the Blues certainly should have defeated Rovers at Ewood Park. However, without Mikel Arteta the offensive flow suffered deeply, resulting in a stalemate. Sunday was a glorious day for Everton supporters as the club advanced to the semi-finals of the FA Cup after defeating Boro 2-1. The blue side of Merseyside came out sloppy and lacked a load of confidence in the first half, allowing the visitors free reign in the midfield. David Wheater’s header was blasted past Howard just before halftime, giving Middlesbrough a deserved lead. However, the Toffees came out firing during the second stanza and had the equalizer just four minutes into the action when Tim Cahill’s cross was met by a strong yet lofty header from Marouane Fellaini. The header sailed just over 'keeper Brad Jones’ head and into the net. Luis Saha, who was brought on at the start of the second half, nailed the winner just six minutes later when Steven Pienaar’s short cross was met by a powerful darting header from the Frenchman. Howard was mildly tested on the day and controlled his box well. The trip to Wembley is the first for the Toffees since 1995 when they defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup final. They’ll have to go through the Red Devils again as they drew the club in the semi-final round.
Up Next: Saturday, home to Stoke City.
Brad Friedel, Aston Villa.
vs. Manchester City, 2-0, 90 minutes, 2 saves, 2 goals conceded.
Aston Villa has certainly hit a wall recently. The Birmingham outfit has now earned just one point from their last three league matches, including Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the hands of Manchester City. Blumer Elano tallied from the penalty spot in the first half before Shaun Wright-Philips struck the dagger in the 89th minute. The Villains lead over Arsenal is now just three points.
Up Next: Sunday, home to Tottenham.
Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa
No action for the backup keeper but Eric Lichaj played the entire 90 minutes during Monday’s Reserves fixture as the Villains defeated Chelsea 4-3 in a high octane affair. The Villa Reserves now sit atop the FA Premier Reserve League.
Clint Dempsey, Fulham
vs. Hull City, 0-1, 90 minutes.
vs. Manchester United, 0-4, 90 minutes.
Dempsey, along with Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson, had several opportunities to put the Cottagers ahead on Wednesday, but keeper Matt Duke was spectacular, earning a clean sheet as Manucho scored late into stoppage time to give the Tigers the win. Saturday, things got ugly at Craven Cottage as Manchester United ran wild, scoring twice on each side of halftime to blow out the home side 0-4 in the FA Cup quarterfinal matchup. Fulham had a few opportunities early but brilliant plays from Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney, and Ji-Sung Park sent the London outfit packing.
Up Next: Wednesday, home to Blackburn and Saturday, away to Bolton.
Jonathan Spector, West Ham
vs. Wigan Athletic, 0-1, 12 minutes.
Spector got on late for the Hammers and preserved the slim one goal lead. Carlton Cole put the visitors ahead in the first half, as the London club weathered a pretty volatile Wigan attack. The home side uncorked 18 shots to West Ham’s seven, but keeper Robert Green was up to task as he racked up the clean sheet.
Up Next: Monday, home to West Bromwich Albion.
Marcus Hahnemann, Reading
Hahnemann was once again the backup for Reading last week, but the Royals got a few good results. First, on Tuesday, they defeated Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 before drawing with Plymouth on Saturday. The American back stop appears to have lost his starting position for the time being but could be moved back into the starting role if Reading start to slip further out of the automatic promotion spots.
Eddie Johnson, Cardiff
Jay DeMerit, Watford
DeMerit, still suffering from a calf strain, was not a part of either fixture last week. His Hornets fell to Plymouth 2-1 on the road but rebounded to take down Charlton 2-3. DeMerit could be back this week.
Frank Simek, Sheffield Wednesday
Simek, still rounding into form, was on the bench but did not get on for his squad last week. The Owls dropped both matches against Reading and Wolverhampton.
Meanwhile Up In Scotland…
DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu, Rangers
vs. Inverness Caledonian Thistle, 0-1, Edu played 64 minutes.
vs. Hamilton, Scottish Cup, 5-1, Both DNP.
Rangers’ title hopes took a serious hit on Wednesday when they were defeated by Inverness courtesy of an Ian Black penalty kick in the 90th minute. Edu played the majority of the contest while Beasley made the bench but did not get on. On Sunday, neither American received playing time as Rangers advanced to the semifinals of the Scottish Cup by pounding Hamilton 5-1.
Up Next: Sunday, home to Celtic, CIS Insurance Cup.
** MK Dons striker Jemal Johnson helped steer his club to a draw on Saturday against Swindon. The American born product threaded a nice ball to Aaron Wilbraham who struck home a first half equalizer. The match finished 1-1.
** Former Colorado Rapids and New England Revolution assistant coach John Murphy signed on to become the goalkeeping coach for Scottish 1st Division club Livingston. The contract runs until the end of the season. Livingston currently sits in sixth position.
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Matthew Braine's feature "Americans in the UK" appears every Monday on Goal.com. He can be reached at email@example.com