From the Stands
Mid-August is traditionally a time when Americans enjoy the baseball pennant race and pre-season football. This year, however, dozens of Americans are competing in Europe’s toughest soccer leagues and attracting a lot of attention on this side of the pond. Here’s a roundup on how are boys are performing overseas:
American first choice keeper Brad Friedel has looked very uncomfortable for Blackburn’s this season. Without a defense in front of him, and a serious thigh injury, Friedel has given up seven goals in three matches. Unable to take goal kicks, Friedel has been throwing the ball out of the box to his players.
Manchester City midfielder Claudio Reyna has looked strong at his position this season, despite the team losing two and drawing one. Reyna put in a strong performance for the USA in last week’s 1-1 World Cup qualifier draw against Jamaica.
Fulham teammates Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra are experiencing very different seasons at the London club. McBride has been dropped down in the pecking order of strikers due to his age and new signing Andy Cole. Bocanegra, however, is beginning to thrive in his central defense position. In a league that lacks good defenders across the board, Bocanegra will thrive in England for many years to come.
Americans Tim Howard and Jonathan Spector , teammates at Manchester United, look to be part of the future for the European giants. First choice keeper Howard has looked very erratic in goal, with moments of brilliance and massive mistakes. With a clean sheet in United 3-0 win over Dinamo Bucharest, Howard looked very comfortable in goal. In competitions against good opponents (Chelsea and Arsenal), however, he has looked very shaky. Spector, the 18-year old Chicago native, has performed well in defense for coach Sir Alex Ferguson. With a few starts under his belt, Spector will be a promising addition to United’s defense. Becoming a regular first team player, however, will take a few years.
Demarcus Beasley scored for Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven in their Champions League Third Round qualifier against Red Star Belgrade. The former Chicago Fire midfielder will gain useful experience in Europe and eventually become a world class player for the United States Men’s Team.
Similarly, striker Landon Donovan , is set to leave the San Jose Earthquakes for Bayer Leverkusen of Germany at the beginning of next year. Beasley and Donovan will form the core of the American team for the next ten years.