By Matthew Braine
Brad Guzan took center stage for Aston Villa last week, helping his squad progress in both the Carling and FA Cup. The Villains will participate in the Carling Cup final after defeating Blackburn 7-4 on aggregate. Meanwhile, a Dempsey-less Fulham squad defeated Accrington Stanley and got positive news as it looks like the winger will not require surgery, leaving his World Cup availability intact. In addition, Everton faltered at home to Birmingham as they suffered their first loss with Donovan in the lineup.
Tim Howard and Landon Donovan, Everton
Vs. Birmingham, 1-2, (90 minutes,
Everton came out very groggy in the first half, allowing two lazy goals in the opening 45 minutes. Christian Benitez knocked home a great header, sending Howard the wrong way, while Barry Ferguson notched in a second with a crafty finish. Leon Osman came on to start the second half and grabbed a goal back but the Toffees squandered several chances and were knocked out of the FA Cup. Donovan was relatively invisible before being removed in the 76th minute.
Up Next: Wednesday, home for Sunderland, and Saturday, away to Wigan.
Brad Friedel, Aston Villa
Friedel did not play in either Villa cup fixture last week.
Up Next: Wednesday, home for Arsenal, and Saturday, away to Fulham.
Brad Guzan, Aston Villa
Vs. Blackburn, 6-4, (90 minutes, 4 goals conceded, 3 saves)
Vs. Brighton, 3-2, (90 minutes, 2 goals conceded, 3 saves)
Aston Villa advanced it its first major final in 10 years as they battled back in a wild affair to defeat Blackburn 6-4 on Wednesday. The Villains won 7-4 on aggregate and will face either Manchester City or United in the Carling Cup Final. Guzan was beaten four times but grabbed another cup victory. Guzan was actually very solid on Saturday, allowing just one goal in the first 90 minutes before an injury time goal from Nicky Forster doubled the tally. Still, the Birmingham outfit grabbed goals from three different Villains to secure a spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa
Lichaj was the subject or more loan gossip as Ipswich Town boss Roy Keane is interested in the defender, however, there hasn’t been any movement yet.
Clint Dempsey, Fulham
Vs. Accrington Stanley, 1-3, (DNP)
Good news came in over the weekend as Dempsey will not require surgery on his injured knee, leaving the door open for him to return to Fulhanm before season’s end. Fulham advanced in the FA Cup by defeating Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
Up Next: Tuesday, away to Tottenham, and Saturday, home for Aston Villa.
Jonathan Spector, West Ham
No games over the weekend.
Up Next: Tuesday, away to Portsmouth, and Saturday, home for Blackburn.
Marcus Hahnemann, Wolverhampton
Vs. Crystal Palace, 2-2, (DNP)
Hahnemann did not start, likely because of the FA Cup tie, as Wolves earned a replay courtesy of a late goal from Ronald Zubar. Hahnemann will probably start in the league fixtures this week.
Up Next: Tuesday, home for Liverpool, and Saturday, away to Hull.
Jozy Altidore, Hull City
Vs. Manchester United, 4-0, (DNP)
Altidore was not included in Sunday’s contest against Manchester United. Wayne Rooney blasted the Tigers with four goals en route to a blowout.
Up Next: Saturday, home for Wolverhampton.
Jay DeMerit, Watford
DeMerit played the entire contest on Saturday but Watford lost to Blackpool 3-2. The hosts scored twice in the final two minutes to steal a victory from Watford.
Up Next: Saturday, home for Swansea.
Frank Simek, Sheffield Wednesday
Simek was on the bench Saturday but did not get on as the Owls defeated Peterborough United 2-1. The story and result was the same on Tuesday when Sheffield defeated Blackpool.
Up Next: Wednesday, away to Scunthorpe, and Saturday, home for Plymouth.
Jemal Johnson, Stockport County
Jemal Johnson was loaned out to Stockport County mid-week. He started for the League One bottom-dwellers on Tuesday as the squad fell 0-1 to Swindon Town. On Saturday, Johnson once again played the full 90 as Stockport drew 0-0 with Carlisle United.
Up Next: Tuesday, home for Brighton, and Saturday, away to Southampton.
Mike Grella, Leeds United
Grella started and played 83 minutes on Tuesday, but Leeds lost 1-2 to Carlisle in their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Section final fixture. The second leg is in a few weeks. Grella did not play on Saturday as Leeds got a late penalty strike from Jermaine Beckford to earn a replay against Tottenham in the FA Cup. Beckford knotted the score at 2-2 in injury time, dampening the spirits of the folks at White Hart Lane.
Up Next: Tuesday, away to Swindon Town, and Saturday, home for Colchester United.
Jon-Paul Pittman, Wycombe Wanderers
Pittman did not feature for Wycombe as the team drew 1-1 with Southend United.
Up Next: Saturday, away to Bristol Rovers.
Meanwhile Up In Scotland…
DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu, Rangers
Rangers advanced to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup Tuesday when they defeated Hamilton 2-1. Edu came on very late in extra time but did not do much. Neither American featured on Saturday as Rangers got a late goal from Andrew Little in the 90th minute to draw 1-1 with Heart of Midlothian.
Up Next: Wednesday, away to St. Mirren, and Saturday, home for Falkirk.
Matthew Braine writes the Americans in the UK piece every Monday. Contact him with your questions or comments at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MatthewBraine
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