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Spalletti's men are a work in progress

Inter Milan

Dempsey piles on the agony for Rafa Benitez

Fulham's Clint Dempsey finally got off the mark in the Premier League, and Aston Villa's ageless Brad Friedel celebrated a milestone in goal. Meanwhile, Milan's Oguchi Onyewu underwent knee surgery and hopes to return for the World Cup. Here's a brief roundup. England Premier League

Liverpool vs. Birmingham
3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Brad Friedel, Aston Villa: Villa boss Martin O'Neill and Friedel's teammates paid tribute to the 39-year-old stopper after he made his record-extending 200th consecutive Premier League start Saturday against Everton. Friedel had little chance on Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's shot into the corner in the first half, and Villa rallied for a 1-1 tie at Goodison Park. "He has been an excellent keeper for a long, long time now," O'Neill told reporters. "I don't think you can play 200 consecutive games in the Premier League and not be good. I can't see the record ever being broken -- not in my lifetime anyway." In Friedel's 199th straight start, Villa and Wolves played to a 1-1 tie in a scrappy Midlands derby. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake beat Friedel from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute -- one of the most venomous penalties you'll ever see. Season: 10 games played (0 substitute appearances): 0 goals Tim Howard, Everton: Everton's up-and-down season continues. The Toffees are winless in six and suffered their worst European away loss on Oct. 22, drubbed 5-0 by Benfica. Howard was left stranded in goal as the defense switched off early in the second half, conceding two quick goals. It wasn't a pretty sight for the roughly 5,500 Everton fans -- the most for an Everton away match in Europe in 25 years. Everton lost 3-2 to Bolton three days later when Croatian Ivan Klasnic powered a ball past Howard late, and Tottenham eliminated Everton from the Carling Cup in midweek, 2-0. Everton stopped the rot Saturday, with Howard and Friedel not severely tested. Season: 17 (0): 0 Clint Dempsey, Fulham: The marauding midfielder scored his first two league goals in the past fortnight, leveling against big spending Manchester City and piling more misery on Liverpool. That after being left on the bench in Fulham's pulsating 1-1 tie against Roma in the Europa League. Fulham has struggled in Premier League games following European outings, and it looked like more of the same when the Cottagers trailed City 2-0 away. Irish winger Damien Duff pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute, and Dempsey's brilliant header to the far post six minutes later capped the comeback. He ran over to the Fulham bench and celebrated with buddy Eddie Johnson. "Unfortunately, we allowed them back in the game, and gave them a lift," City manager Mark Hughes told reporters. "Then it was how we dealt with balls in the box, and a guy in Dempsey who is acknowledged as good in the air. We haven't dealt with it." Dempsey was a key figure in Saturday's 3-1 win against Liverpool. Liverpool fullback Philipp Degen got sent off for his clumsy tackle on Dempsey in the 79th minute -- in truth, it looked more like a yellow than red -- and the Texan completed the scoring in the 87th minute against a nine-man Liverpool side, following a give-and-go with forward Erik Nevland. Fulham moved up to mid-table. Season: 12 (0): 3 Brad Guzan, Aston Villa: Guzan doesn't get many opportunities playing behind Friedel, so he has to impress when he does get the call. He certainly excelled against Sunderland in the Carling Cup last week. Guzan made four penalty saves, three in the shootout, as Villa topped Sunderland away to reach the quarterfinals. Guzan began his heroics by denying Kenwyne Jones in the 83rd minute -- diving to his left -- and his three other stops weren't routine. In other words, the balls weren't straight at the 25-year-old. "Guzan gave us a glimpse on Tuesday night why we chased him to come to this club," O'Neill told reporters. "He is going to be class." Guzan knows he needs to register more starts to challenge Howard for the starter's spot with the national team. "Do I need to get the Villa jersey off Brad Friedel to replace Tim Howard?" Guzan queried reporters. "I think that would help." More good news for Guzan -- Villa drew Portsmouth in the last eight, avoiding the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Season: 4 (0): 0 Jonathan Spector, West Ham: Is this the start of Spector's reign at right back? He sure hopes so. Spector, following Julien Faubert's blunder against Stoke, played all 90 minutes as West Ham rallied from 2-0 down to tie Arsenal at Upton Park on Oct. 25, and got in another full game when the Hammers blew a 2-0 lead themselves and had to settle for a point against 10-man Sunderland on Saturday. Spector won't be happy with Sunderland's tying goal in the 76th minute. Kieran Richardson flew past him to tap in a deflected cross. Only goal difference is keeping West Ham off the bottom. Season: 6 (1): 0 Eddie Johnson, Fulham: Johnson is a prime candidate for a loan move in January. The striker didn't make the bench against Roma and Liverpool, and couldn't get off the bench versus Manchester City. He did, however, score twice in a reserve outing against Cardiff City -- his home on loan last season -- in late October. "I'm sure sorry about scoring those goals," Johnson told the South Wales Echo. "Cardiff City is like family for me. That is where I learned how to play in Europe after coming over from America. I made some great friends at Cardiff." Season: 1 (2): 0 Jozy Altidore, Hull (loan from Villarreal): This is no way to endear yourself to the manager, teammates or fans. The young striker showed up late for a game against Portsmouth on Oct. 24, then made things worse by tweeting, "I apologize to the all of you. I showed up late. Made a big mistake. I'm very very sorry." Under-fire Hull boss Phil Brown was none too pleased, and Altidore can expect a hefty fine. Altidore returned to the squad Saturday, entering as a 59th-minute substitute and collecting a yellow card in Hull's 2-0 hard-luck loss to Burnley. Season: 2 (6): 1 Marcus Hahnemann, Wolves: Hahnemann continues to back up Wayne Hennessey in goal, and Wolves continue to battle. Last season's Championship winners overcame a 2-0 deficit Saturday to earn a point at Stoke City, which is a handful for anyone. It's now three consecutive draws for Mick McCarthy's team. Season: 2 (0): 0 Championship Jay DeMerit, Watford: The Watford captain remains sidelined following eye surgery. He's hoping to return before Christmas, according to Eurosport. "I have been into training now and again to do stuff in the gym, on the bike, and doing aerobic work," he was quoted as saying. "I have also been working on my problem areas, my groin and my hamstring. So hopefully when I come back I will be stronger than ever." The Hornets could have used the defender Saturday, routed 5-0 by high-flying West Brom. Season: 5 (0): 0 Frankie Simek, Sheffield Wednesday: Wednesday manager Brian Laws needed to shake things up following a dismal 4-1 televised loss to Watford and a virus that swept through the team. As a result, the right back made his first start -- and appearance -- in more than two months, going the distance and picking up a booking in Saturday's credible 1-1 tie at Bristol City. Laws was impressed with the former Arsenal trainee. "Frankie was the Frankie Simek of old," he told reporters. Season: 3 (0): 0 League One Jemal Johnson, MK Dons: Restored to the starting lineup against Southampton on Oct. 24, the winger sustained a calf strain and had to be subbed at halftime. He missed Saturday's win over Bristol Rovers. "JJ's done his calf," Dons manager Paul Ince told the club Web site. "He also took a kick to his groin which has put him in some discomfort, so it looks like he's going to struggle." Season: 14 (2): 1 Mike Grella, Leeds: The striker was on the bench in Leeds' 4-0 win against Yeovil on Saturday. Leeds moved seven points clear of Charlton atop the table, with the Dons also seven behind. Season: 5 (5): 1 Italy, Serie A Oguchi Onyewu, A.C. Milan: Onyewu is battling to get fit for the World Cup after undergoing surgery Oct. 21 to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee -- he's sidelined for six months. The one-hour operation was a "complete success," according to the operating physician, Dr. Bert Mandlebaum, U.S. Soccer reported. Onyewu injured his left knee in the dying minutes of the U.S.'s 2-2 draw against Costa Rica a week earlier. Season: 0 (1): 0 Germany, Bundesliga Steve Cherundolo, Hannover 96: Hannover won back-to-back games for the first time this season, with Cherundolo not missing a minute in either. Hannover downed struggling Stuttgart 1-0 on Oct. 24 and toppled Cologne away by the same score Saturday. Up next are title contenders Hamburg. Season: 13 (1): 0 Michael Bradley, Borussia Moenchengladbach: Bradley and Co. ended a six-game losing streak by holding Cologne to a 0-0 draw on Oct. 24, then pulled off one of the upsets of the campaign by beating Hamburg -- away -- 3-2 on Saturday. Bradley made his seventh and eighth starts, but was unable to produce a winner with a long-range strike in injury time versus Cologne. Season: 8 (1): 1 Sal Zizzo, Hannover 96: The midfielder is likely gone for the season after injuring his left knee in training in mid-October. Season: 0 (1): 0 France, Ligue 1 Charlie Davies, Sochaux: Davies, reported U.S. Soccer, has begun rehabilitation after he was involved in a serious car accident near Washington D.C. on Oct. 13. He's expected to miss the World Cup. "His spirits have been lifted by the more than 10,000 emails of support received from fans in the U.S. and around the world," U.S. Soccer said on its Web site. "Additionally, he has taken calls and received text messages from fellow U.S. MNT players and his teammates from FC Sochaux." Sochaux lost its first match in three since the accident, routed 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday. Season: 6 (2): 2 Carlos Bocanegra, Rennes: One step forward and one back for Rennes. Following a 3-0 win over Montpellier at home Oct. 24, Rennes got crushed by Valenciennes 3-0 at home a week later. Bocanegra had a tough day at left back; he picked up a yellow card in the 56th minute and was beaten by Fahid Ben Khalfallah for the visitors' second. Season: 9 (1): 0 Portugal, Liga Freddy Adu, Belenenses (loan from Benfica): In the wake of injuring his ankle against CD Nacional in early October, Adu was left out of the squad against Olhanense on Oct. 23. A week later versus Portuguese giants Porto, the forward returned to the squad, although didn't see action. Season: 1 (2): 0 Kamani Hill, Vitoria Guimaraes: Hill, a striker, didn't make the bench against Sporting Lisbon and Coimbra. Season: No appearances Scotland, Premier League DaMarcus Beasley, Rangers: Beasley made his first appearance of the season Oct. 27, playing the opening 75 minutes of Rangers' 3-1 win against Dundee in the League Cup. Rangers boss Walter Smith must have liked what he saw. Beasley was on the bench Sunday, when Rangers' clash with Dundee United was abandoned at halftime due to a soaked pitch and high winds. Season: 1 (0): 0 Maurice Edu, Rangers: Edu, still recovering from a knee injury, claims he was racially abused by Rangers fans -- yes, Rangers fans -- after the team's 4-1 disappointing Champions League loss at Ibrox to Unirea Urziceni. "Not sure what hurt more: result last night or being racially abused by couple of our own fans as I'm getting in my car," Edu said via Twitter. Rangers put out a statement on their Web site, condemning the abuse: "The action of this individual is disgusting and completely unacceptable. Rangers will undertake an investigation to identify the individual in question and take appropriate action. It is extremely disappointing that people such as this attach themselves to the wider Rangers support and tarnish the image of the club and its fans." Season: No appearances Denmark, Superligaen Danny Califf, FC Midtjylland: Califf is very much on the fringes now at Midtjylland, not in the squad against Koge and Aarhus. Seeking a spot on the World Cup team, you can bet the veteran defender is thinking of a loan or permanent move come the transfer window. League: 4 (1): 0 Jeremiah White, Aarhus: Aarhus' title hopes were dented with a 2-0 home loss to struggler Nordsjaelland on Oct. 26 and a 2-2 draw, again at home, to underachieving Midtjylland. White, a forward, came on in the 65th minute against Nordsjaelland and contested the first 82 minutes against Midtjylland. League: 5 (6): 0 Benny Feilhaber, Aarhus: Feilhaber started against Nordsjaelland and Midtjylland, being substituted in the 87th and 75th minutes, respectively. League: 12 (1): 1 Michael Parkhurst, Nordsjaelland: A huge win in the Danish Cup served as a catalyst for Nordsjaelland, which subsequently downed Aarhus to snap a four-match league losing streak. Parkhurst lined up in defense, and also started Sunday, when the brief winning streak ended at home to Brondby, 1-0. Nordsjaelland sits ninth of 12 teams in the top division, a comfortable eight points above the relegation zone along with Midtjylland. League: 10 (0): 0 Marcus Tracy, Aalborg: When the striker entered as an 81st-minute substitute against Brondby on Oct. 25, it marked his first action since mid-September. League: 0 (3): 0 Ravi Ubha is a London-based freelance journalist covering Americans abroad for ESPNsoccernet. He also covers tennis for


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