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Americans Abroad - 1st Half Anaysis - Goalkeepers (12/25)
Brad Freidel #1 (Blackburn) – Considering Blackburn’s dreadful form in the 1st half of the season, Brad has been a one-man gang when it comes to getting results. Rovers have won just two games and drawn 7 from a possible 18. Since October 30th, the Lancashire club has lost only once (1-0 to Tottenham) getting one victory and 6 draws. Brad has gotten clean sheets in 3 of the last four (1W, 1L, 2D) allowing just 1 goal. Friedel has gotten 4 clean sheets overall this season. Both of Blackburn wins (2-0 at Fulham (11/27) and 1-0 vs. Portsmouth (9/18) came as a result of clean sheets by Friedel. Brad has played every minute of every Premier League game for Blackburn this season.

Brad has had a very good season personally including a Herculean effort to keep Manchester United off the board until a late Alan Smith goal allowed the Red Devils to escape with a draw (8/28). Blackburn will need Brad to be a wall through the remainder of the season to make sure there is no relegation fight at Ewood Park. His team has allowed 30 goals and scored just 16 in 18 games accounting for the measly 15 points placing them at 16th place just a point above relegation. Blackburn doesn’t have much to spend so gaffer Mark Hughes will have to work some magic to get any new players into the squad. It is being reported that South African captain Aaron Mokoena will be joining Blackburn from Racing Genk(Blg) in a Ł600,000 deal.

It is said that a team needs approximately 20 points in each half of the season to avoid relegation. Let’s hope for Blackburn’s sake, they get a few points from the holiday games. Blackburn will play Newcastle at Ewood Park on Boxing Day and be at the Reebok stadium against rivals Bolton on the 28th. In late news, fellow American defender Jonathan Spector will be joining Blackburn on loan from Manchester United for the remainder of the season. This should give a little help to what has been a shaky defense all season.

Notes of Interest: Brad had a record of 22-16 with a 0.90 GAA for the Columbus Crew (96-97).

Marcus Hahnemann #1 (Reading) – At the opposite end of the spectrum, Reading’s Marcus Hahnemann is enjoying a very successful season. Reading currently sits 4th just 5 points behind leaders Ipswich in the League Championship. The Royals have won their past two matches which incidentally saw a clean sheet kept by Hahnemann in both games (1-0 vs. QPR (12/18) and 2-0 at Leicester (12/11). Reading has won 13 and drawn 5 en route to 44 points from 24 games. They have also been pretty solid in defense allowing just 22 goals.

Marcus has played every minute of all 24 League matches and also two Carling Cup matches. The 6’3” keeper from Seattle has kept 10 clean sheets (9 League, 1 Carling Cup) so far this season. Hahnemann has only lost one game in 5 attempts against fellow promotion hopefuls (1-0 @Sheffield Utd (8/14), 1-0 vs. Sunderland (8/31), 1-1 at Ipswich (9/28), 1-1 vs. Wigan (11/27), 0-1 at West Ham (8/10)). In two Carling Cup matches, Marcus kept a clean sheet @Oxford United (2-0 on 8/25) and lost to Jay Demerit’s Watford (3-0 on 9/21).

Reading are doing very well in following up last season’s “blip on the radar” where they missed out on the promotion playoffs following two seasons ago where they lost in the playoffs to Robert Plant’s beloved Wolverhampton. This year, they seem poised to further their stature by being a true promotion hopeful. As for the immediate future, Reading has quite a tough stretch coming up with 4 games in 8 days. They are home to Watford on Boxing Day, away to Preston (12/28), away to Gillingham (1/1), and home to Derby (1/3).

Notes of Interest: In the three seasons Marcus played in MLS, he amassed a record of 39-25 with a GAA of 1.56 for the Colorado Rapids (97-99).

Tim Howard #1 (Manchester United) – Tim started the season as the starter but lost his job following a tie at Lyon (2-2 on 9/15) in Champions League play. His play was also questioned the week before at Bolton (2-2 on 9/11) and with the whirlwind of negative press in the English media, Sir Alex banished the former Metrostars keeper to the bench. Roy Carroll assumed the starting spot and has kept the job since with some very good performances.

Tim has played in 5 league games losing only once at Chelsea (1-0 on 8/15). He won twice against Norwich (2-1 on 8/21) and at Everton (1-0 on 8/30) and drew at Blackburn (1-1 on 8/28) and at Bolton (2-2 on 9/11). Tim has also played in 4 Champions League games winning both legs against Dinamo Bucharesti (2-1 away on 8/11 and 3-0 at home on 8/25). His last game in net was a loss against Fenerbache (3-0 away on 12/8). Howard has appeared in all 3 Carling Cup matches with wins against Crewe (3-0 away on 10/26), Crystal Palace (2-0 on 11/10), and against Arsenal (1-0 on 12/1). Tim also made an appearance for the National team in a win against El Salvador (2-0 on 9/4) at Foxboro.

Tim’s play has improved of late but Roy Carroll has been in excellent form. I would expect it would be difficult for Tim to get his job back unless Carroll falters. Manchester United is in 4th place in the Premiership with 34 points from 18 games and are 9 points behind leaders Chelsea. The Red Devils will be playing 3 games in 7 days so maybe this will get Tim a game during the busy schedule. They will be at home on Boxing Day against Bolton, away to Aston Villa (12/28), and away to Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day.

Notes of Interest: Tim played in 85 games for the Metrostars (98-03) and had a record of 37-36-11 with a 1.49 GAA

Kasey Keller #13 (Tottenham) – Kasey has had a rough season losing the starting keeper job before the season started to England international Paul Robinson. Kasey has made just two appearances for Tottenham both in Carling Cup (6-0 at Oldham on 9/22 and 4-3 at Bolton on 10/27) play. Keller was loaned out to Southampton for one month (11/13 -12/4) as starting goalkeeper Anti Niemi was out with an injury. He played in four games for Southampton picking up a win (2-1 vs. Porstmouth on 11/13) and a draw (2-2 vs. Crystal Palace on 11/27). As his loan period ended early in December, Kasey has not made any appearances with the first team, not even listed on the subs bench as the young Hungarian Marton Fulop has assumed the backup spot to Robinson. On the positive side, Keller made 5 appearances for the National team recording two victories (2-0 at El Salvador on 10/9 and 6-0 vs. Panama on 10/13) and three draws (1-1 at Jamaica on 8/18, 1-1 at Panama on 9/8, and 1-1 vs. Jamaica on 11/17).

It is very likely that Kasey will be leaving White Hart Lane during the transfer window. There have been rumors that he maybe looking to come back home to MLS and there are also rumors that Fulham maybe interested. I think that Keller is still a top-flight keeper and should be able to get another season or two in Europe before having to come home. He should be able to catch on with a promotion hopeful in the League Championship or even a struggling Premiership side and there are also many sides in Europe he might be able to catch on with.

Notes of Interest: Kasey played in 45 games for Tottenham last season and had a record of 17-21-7 with a GAA of 1.42.
December 25, 2004 Asif Ali


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