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Jan 12, 2010

A positive first impression for Donovan in England

Britain's deep freeze forced most games to be called off last week, although it didn't prevent Clint Dempsey from netting a spectacular goal and Landon Donovan making his Everton debut. The Christmas breaks ended in France, Italy and Spain, while a pair of drifting forwards sought refuge in Greece. Here's a brief roundup of notable Americans in Europe. England Premier League GK, Brad Friedel, Aston Villa: Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill opted for understudy Brad Guzan in goal in the FA Cup the first weekend of January, which meant Friedel ended up getting two weeks off -- the cold spell, leading to tricky conditions outside stadiums and limited transport, led to the postponement of Saturday's clash at Wigan. Season: 20 games played (0 substitute appearances): 0 goals GK, Tim Howard, Everton: Everton's game at Arsenal was one of two Premier League tilts that did go ahead Saturday, and what a 2-2 cracker it was. Howard didn't have to make one good save and was unlucky on both goals conceded. With the Toffees leading 1-0 on a Leon Osman header, Brazilian midfielder Denilson tied it in the first half when his strike from the edge of the box hit Osman and wrong-footed Howard.

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Then, nursing a 2-1 advantage in second-half injury time, substitute Tomas Rosicky's shot from inside the box careened off the sprawling Lucas Neill. Howard needed treatment early in the second half courtesy of Eduardo's high boot but didn't sustain any serious damage. It's now six games unbeaten in the Premier League for Everton, including five draws. Season: 29 (0): 0 M, Clint Dempsey, Fulham: Dempsey scored one of the goals of the season at Stoke last Tuesday, looping a 30-yard half-volley past Steve Simonsen. Dempsey didn't start -- Fulham boss Roy Hodgson said he had a slight knock -- but came on in the snow when hot striker Bobby Zamora injured his shoulder in the second half. Dempsey made a quick impact, setting up Damien Duff for a chance and assisting on Duff's deflected goal that got Fulham on the board at 3-1. Not long after, the Texan snuck between two defenders in the box, only to send his header straight at Simonsen. He wasn't done, though, brilliantly netting the second in the 85th minute. Fulham failed to find the equalizer and has lost two straight in the league. Meanwhile, Dempsey started in the Cottagers' 1-0 FA Cup win over lower-division Swindon. The wintery weather postponed Fulham's home game against bottom feeders Portsmouth on Saturday. It also meant Brian McBride's get-together with the fans was canceled. McBride, a former Fulham captain, paid a visit to the club last week. "I've been following [Fulham] just as much as any fan," he told the team's Web site. Season: 23 (3): 7 GK, Brad Guzan, Aston Villa: The big freeze hit the first leg of Villa's Carling Cup semifinal against Blackburn. Guzan will be in goal when the rearranged fixture takes place Thursday at Ewood Park. Blackburn got a taste of what Guzan can do, as he saved yet another penalty as Villa topped Rovers 3-1 in the FA Cup. Guzan dove to his left to deny David Dunn with Villa leading 1-0. Guzan also stopped four penalties in the fourth round of the Carling Cup at Sunderland. "You almost expect him to save the penalties, which is rather unfair on him," O'Neill told reporters. "His contribution at Sunderland was absolutely fantastic. I'm delighted with him, and Brad Friedel is playing excellently at this moment as well, so I'm pleased to have both of them." Season: 6 (0): 0 D, Jonathan Spector, West Ham: With West Ham short at fullback, Spector wasn't risked against Arsenal in the FA Cup. The Hammers, more concerned about preserving their spot in the Premier League, allowed two late goals and lost 2-1. West Ham's crunch clash against Wolves on Sunday was another casualty of the weather. Season: 9 (3): 0 F, Jozy Altidore, Hull (loan from Villarreal): Altidore was looking forward to facing Chelsea in Saturday's early kickoff, but again, the conditions didn't allow it. He was still having fun, though. "Watching my neighbor throw snowballs at people [from] the 16th floor is hilarious, and the reaction of their victims [is] priceless," he tweeted. "Ha ha." Altidore notched the 11 final minutes on the pitch in Hull's 4-1 loss to Wigan in the FA Cup. Season: 9 (8): 1 GK, Marcus Hahnemann, Wolves: Hahnemann, the No. 1, was rested in Wolves' laborious 1-0 win at Tranmere in the FA Cup. Season: 9 (0): 0 F, Landon Donovan, Everton (loan from L.A. Galaxy): Donovan made a good start to his Everton career, earning praise from boss David Moyes. His out-swinging corner found Osman's head for the opener -- Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia was in no-man's-land -- and Donovan later set up a half-chance for deputy right back Phil Neville. In the second half, he created another good chance, sweeping past left back Armand Traore before sending his pass slightly long. Fatigued, he was replaced in the 69th minute. "I did OK," Donovan told Sky Sports. "I'd like to be sharper and wish I could've finished the game out. There were a few plays I could've done better on." Season: 1 (0): 0 Championship D, Jay DeMerit, Watford: With Watford's home game against Sheffield United postponed Saturday, DeMerit's only action of the fortnight came against Chelsea in the FA Cup. The London derby turned out to be a dud, with the Blues scoring three times in the first 22 minutes as part of a 5-0 rout. DeMerit endured all 90 minutes. Season: 10 (1): 0 D, Frankie Simek, Sheffield Wednesday: Simek went the distance in cash-strapped Wednesday's 2-1 loss, at home, to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. Calvin Andrew raced past the right back to score the winner early in the second half. Saturday's home game versus struggling Peterborough was postponed. Wednesday, hoping to avoid relegation, named Alan Irvine as its new manager, replacing Brian Laws. Season: 8 (1): 0 League One F, Jemal Johnson, MK Dons: Johnson, recently recovered from a calf injury, returned to the squad, but didn't play in a 2-1 FA Cup loss to Burnley. The speedy winger last saw action Nov. 24 against Carlisle. Season: 14 (5): 1 F, Mike Grella, Leeds: So what if Grella didn't play at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. He was on the bench and witnessed one of the biggest Cup upsets in recent years. Leeds stunned a lifeless Manchester United 1-0. A letdown came Saturday, when the league leaders managed only a 1-1 draw, at home, against second-last Wycombe. The transfer speculation surrounding star striker Jermaine Beckford didn't help. Grella entered in the 84th minute, unable to score the winner. Season: 7 (10): 4 Italy, Serie A D, Oguchi Onyewu, A.C. Milan: Onyewu is rehabbing his injured knee, hoping to be ready for the World Cup. Season: 0 (1): 0 Germany, Bundesliga D, Steve Cherundolo, Hannover 96: The German season resumes this weekend. Cherundolo and teammates, one point above the relegation zone, will be kicking themselves if they don't pick up maximum points against Hertha Berlin at home Saturday. Berlin sits last, and by a mile, collecting a measly six points overall. Season: 17 (1): 0 M, Michael Bradley, Borussia Moenchengladbach: Five points above the relegation zone, Moenchengladbach has a winnable game, too, confronting third-last Bochum at home. Bradley will continue to do his thing in the middle of the park. "I am here for the dirty work," he told Bild. "On the pitch, I must be a dirty pig. I am, too. It's not fun to play against me." Season: 14 (1): 2 M, Sal Zizzo, Hannover 96: The midfielder is sidelined with a knee injury. Season: 0 (1): 0 Bundesliga 2 F, Kenny Cooper, 1860 Munich: Cooper hopes to return from a knee injury when Munich, three points above the relegation zone, visits second-last Koblenz on Sunday. Season: 10 (4): 3 G, Luis Robles, Kaiserslautern: Last season, Kaiserslautern collapsed following the winter break, failing to earn promotion. Holding a six-point lead now, it begins the second half of the season at fourth-last Greuther Furth. Robles backs up Tobias Sippel. Season: No appearances France, Ligue 1 F, Charlie Davies, Sochaux: Davies, out since suffering serious injuries in a car accident in October, is trying to return in time for the World Cup. Season: 6 (2): 2 D, Carlos Bocanegra, Rennes: Romain Danze, it seems, is now the No. 1 left back. He started yet again, and Bocanegra was on the bench in Rennes' 2-0 French Cup round-of-64 win against Caen. Season: 12 (2): 0 Greece, Super League F, Eddie Johnson, Aris Salonika (loan from Fulham): Johnson joined Thessaloniki-based Aris, led by former Valencia and Inter boss Hector Cuper, on loan until the end of the season, with the club holding an option to buy. He might make his debut in a Cup game Wednesday. Johnson needs to play to have any shot of cracking the World Cup squad. Season: 1 (2): 0 M, Freddy Adu, Aris Salonika (loan from Benfica): Adu's quest to ignite his European career following less-than-productive stints at Benfica, Monaco and Belenenses has also brought him to the three-time Greek champs on an 18-month loan. He claimed on Twitter to have turned down Hull earlier in the transfer window, but Hull coach Phil Brown denied ever making an approach. "This move feels different in a good way," Adu tweeted. "It just feels right. Here's hoping I have better luck on this one." Adu was greeted by fans at the airport when he arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city located 320 miles north of Athens. "It was an amazing feeling," Adu added. Like Johnson, Adu has yet to suit up for Aris. Season: 1 (3): 0 Scotland, Premier League M, DaMarcus Beasley, Rangers: A thigh injury continues to keep Beasley out of the lineup. The winger, playing regularly and in good form prior to being sidelined, now says he wants to stay at Rangers. Beasley, whose contract expires at the end of the season, hinted last month he wanted to leave. "If the best thing is for me to stay, I would be more than happy to stay," he told reporters. "I've only played five or six games, so it's kind of hard for me to talk about contract talks. I just want to play and get back in the team and show why they bought me." Season: 5 (3): 2 M, Maurice Edu, Rangers: Edu, now fit after a long-term ankle injury, was an unused sub against Dundee United on Dec. 30 and Hamilton in the Scottish Cup on Sunday. He got to play in the big one, though, coming on in the 13th minute at Celtic on Jan. 3 when forward Nacho Novo got hurt. Despite being thoroughly outplayed, Rangers escaped 1-1 to maintain a seven-point lead with one game more played. Season: 0 (2): 0 Denmark, Superligaen Season resumes in March. Midfielder Jeremiah White had his contract with Aarhus terminated by mutual consent, and reports suggest he's on his way to MLS. M, Benny Feilhaber, Aarhus: League: 16 (1): 1 D, Michael Parkhurst, Nordsjaelland: League: 14 (0): 0 F, Marcus Tracy, Aalborg: League: 3 (3): 1

Ravi Ubha is a London-based freelance journalist covering Americans abroad for ESPNsoccernet. He also covers tennis for ESPN.com.

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