Americans Abroad: Dempsey saves Fulham once again; keepers falter
During a weekend when most Americans were giving thanks, one soccer team in England once again showered thanks upon its star American.
Clint Dempsey came to Fulham's rescue one more time, scoring the equalizer in the 53rd minute of the Cottagers' 1-1 draw with Birmingham on Saturday.
Without Dempsey, it's unclear how dire the situation would be at Craven Cottage. Amid a rash of injuries to attacking players, Dempsey has stepped up and become the clear-cut No. 1 offensive option for manager Mark Hughes, scoring five of his six goals this season in league play. Even with that, Fulham is tiptoeing the relegation line, just a point clear of the drop zone.
All of Dempsey's goals this season have helped net points for Fulham. In addition to his one over the weekend, he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over Wigan, the opening goal of a 1-1 draw with West Ham and the equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn.
Scoring crucial goals for Fulham is nothing new for Dempsey. His goal in 2007 against Liverpool rescued Fulham from relegation, and his wonder-chip against Juventus in last year's UEFA Europa League capped a wild comeback and booked Fulham a place in the quarterfinals. Hughes and the Fulham faithful certainly hope the clutch moments keep on coming.
On the other end of the spectrum, there wasn't much to be thankful for among the contingent of American goalkeepers in England.
Aston Villa's Brad Friedel and Everton's Tim Howard each uncharacteristically yielded four goals in disappointing losses, and Marcus Hahnemann was overlooked by Wolverhampton coach Mick McCarthy for the first time in league play this season, watching Wolves' victory over Sunderland from the bench.
"Marcus has been brilliant and was a terrific influence for us last year," McCarthy said on Wolves' team Web site. "I just thought it was time to give Wayne [Hennessey] a chance."
McCarthy hinted that Hennessey, who was Wolves' No. 1 keeper until Hahnemann wrestled the job away from him last season, would get another shot at starting as the team continues its quest for its first clean sheet of the season. With the rumors of the 38-year-old Hahnemann's return to Major League Soccer swirling around Stateside, one has to wonder if his benching may speed up the process.
Here is how the quartet mentioned above and the rest of the Americans playing abroad fared over the past week (season statistics encompass all competitions):