By Matthew Braine
By all accounts, Clint Dempsey has had a fine campaign. Deuce has tallied five goals in all competitions, with his fifth coming during Tuesday’s FA Cup fixture against Swansea City. After Jason Scotland put the visitors ahead early into the second half, Dempsey notched the equalizer in the 77th minute. A Simon Davies’s corner was steered beautifully into goal by the American, whose fearless run ended with his powerful header hitting the back of the net.
Number 23 nearly put in another goal moments later when he was put in the clear for an open chance but his shot was expertly blocked by keeper Dorus De Vries. However, the London club got the victory in the 81st minute when another Davies cross was met by Bobby Zamora, who headed in the winner. The win pits Fulham against Manchester United in next week’s quarterfinal match up.
On Saturday, the Cottagers faced a common foe of United, traveling to the Emirates for a match against Arsenal. Dempsey had a few half chances on the day, sending his best effort wide of the net. While both clubs were off target on the day, Fulham will surely take a goalless draw at Arsenal any day of the week. The Cottagers now sit in ninth place and look keen to stay in the top half the league going forward which would be a huge improvement on last year’s near relegation effort.
Tim Howard, Everton
vs. West Bromwich Albion, 2-0, 90 minutes, 5 saves, 0 goals conceded.
Howard posted another clean sheet on Saturday, blanking the Baggies at Goodison Park en route to a 2-0 Everton victory. Tim Cahill and Louis Saha scored on each side of the half for the home side as the Merseyside club took advantage of its chances, while the visitors squandered their own. Howard made a few fine saves on the day, at one point blocking two fierce efforts from Marc-Antoine Fortune. The Toffees still sit in sixth place but are putting pressure on Arsenal, who sits just two points ahead in fifth position.
Up Next: Wednesday, away to Blackburn, and Sunday, home to Middlesbrough (FA Cup).
Brad Friedel, Aston Villa.
vs. Stoke City, 90 minutes, 0 saves, 2 goals conceded.
Aston Villa was in cruise control Sunday, leading the contest 2-0, when all of a sudden, Stoke woke up. The visitors unleashed two strikes within three minutes to even the score and grab a point. Stiliyan Petrov and John Carew put the fourth placed squad two goals up before Ryan Shawcross powered home a header off a nice set up from James Beattie. Then, in the waning moments, Glenn Whelan drilled a shot past a diving Friedel to shock the home side. Friedel had played a rather quiet match up until that point, and although Villa still holds a solid lead over Arsenal, the clubs title hopes are surely dashed after this performance.
Up Next: Wednesday, away to Manchester City.
Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa
vs. CSKA Moscow, 2-0, 90 minutes, 6 saves, 2 goals conceded (Lichaj was an unused substitute)
Martin O’Neil disappointed fans by essentially punting this year’s UEFA Cup, fielding a predominantly Reserves squad for both legs. The “boys” didn’t stand much of a chance against the Russian superpower, dropping Thursday’s contest in Moscow 2-0. Guzan got the start and made a few impressive stops on the day but was ultimately battered into submission. The home side uncorked 14 shots to Villa’s four, and was on the offensive from the start. Yuri Zhirkov and Silva Vagner Love tallied for CSKA in the second half, advancing the club into the next round. American Villain Eric Lichaj made the bench for the squad, his first time achieving that distinction with the club. Hopefully, he’ll see some time on the pitch this season, but with the club succeeding, it’s likely that he’ll remain with the Reserves.
Clint Dempsey, Fulham
vs. Swansea City, 2-1, 90 minutes, 1 goal.
vs. Arsenal, 0-0, 88 minutes.
Up Next: Wednesday, home to Hull City, and Saturday, home to Manchester United (FA Cup).
Jonathan Spector, West Ham
vs. Middlesbrough (FA Cup), 2-0, DNP-Unused substitute.
vs. Manchester City, 1-0, 7 minutes.
Spector was on the bench but did not get off the pine as the Hammers were knocked out of the FA Cup at the Riverside Stadium. On Sunday, the defender came on late as a substitute and helped the Hammers hold onto a 1-0 lead. West Ham’s Jack Collison netted for the home side midway through the second half as the Hammers got a deserved and impressive win. With the victory, the London club moves up to seventh in the table.
Up Next: Wednesday, away to Wigan Athletic and Monday, home to West Bromwich Albion.
Marcus Hahnemann, Reading
Reading fell once again on Saturday, dropping a 1-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest. Hahnemann was dressed but on the bench for the Royals. He should resume his starting duties soon, even sooner if the club continues to flounder.
Eddie Johnson, Cardiff
Johnson was not involved in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw with Queens Park Rangers but did make his first appearance in nearly a month on Saturday when Cardiff took on Southampton. Johnson got on for the last nine minutes as the Bluebirds dropped a tough one to a Championship club residing in the bottom three of the league.
Jay DeMerit, Watford
The Hornets got a big 2-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday but paid a price as their captain limped off in the 57th minute with an apparent leg injury. The severity of DeMerit’s injury is not clear at this point, but with the squad just starting to pull away from the relegation zone, this blow will certainly not help the situation.
Frank Simek, Sheffield Wednesday
Simek was dressed but did not get on during Saturday’s high octane win over Burnley. The 2-4 triumph puts the Owls just six points behind Bristol City for the final playoff spot.
Meanwhile Up In Scotland…
DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu, Rangers
vs. Hamilton Academical , 0-1, Edu (90 minutes) Beasley (DNP-Unused Substitute)
Rangers’ midfielder Pedro Mendes suffered a thigh strain before the game against Hamilton Academical, opening up a spot for none other than Maurice Edu. Making just his second SPL start, Edu played the entire contest as Rangers squeaked out a 0-1 win over Hamilton. Beasley was dressed but did not get off the bench for this contest. However, after Beasley suffered that vicious tackle during the Forfar match last week, it was good to see the winger fit enough to suit up.
Up Next: Wednesday, home to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, and Sunday, home to Hamilton Academical (Scottish Cup).
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Matthew Braine's feature "Americans in the UK" appears every Monday on Goal.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org