Dempsey misses penalty against Chelsea, more Americans Abroad
Clint Dempsey was seemingly on the path to deliver again when Fulham was on the cusp of a landmark victory. He put in the dirty work, got himself into position to make a game-winning play and then did the unthinkable.
He failed to come through.
After drawing a second-half stoppage-time penalty on new Chelsea center back David Luiz on Monday, Dempsey was granted a rare opportunity to score from the penalty spot. With the Craven Cottage crowd teetering on delirium, Dempsey stood at the edge of the 18-yard box in a spread-legged stance, catching his breath while wiping the sweat from his brow, moments away from adding another bullet point to his Fulham resume.
On the referee's whistle, Dempsey ran up and delivered a powerful right-footed kick slightly to the left, but not left enough. Goalkeeper Petr Cech guessed correctly, stuffing the goal attempt. Dempsey had a chance off the rebound, but his acrobatic bicycle kick attempt sailed high and wide, hopes of a West London derby victory going along with it. Final score: Fulham 0, Chelsea 0.
Teammates refused to lay the blame at Dempsey's feet. "Of course it's disappointing [not to have won], but the person who took the penalty for us has been fantastic for us this season, so it's just unlucky for him -- it happens," said Andrew Johnson to the club's official website. "Clint has 10 goals for us already this season and it was him that won the penalty so it made sense that he was the one to take it."
Although Dempsey missed out on a chance to cap another strong overall performance with what would have been his fifth goal in seven matches, there were two American goal scorers this past week. Carlos Bocanegra tallied his second goal of the season for St. Etienne in a losing effort, and Germany-born, 20-year-old Timothy Chandler netted his first professional goal in his first start for FC Nurnberg.
In addition to the two goals, three Americans made their debuts at new clubs, as Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa) and Eric Lichaj (Leeds United) all ended spells of inactivity. Altidore and Lichaj both started, with the striker displaying finesse moves not typically associated with his physical style of play in the run up to Bursaspor's lone goal of the match. Lichaj went the distance at right back in helping Leeds keep a clean sheet, something he'll try to do with regularity until his loan ends next month.
As for Bradley, he entered Aston Villa's draw with Blackpool after starting central midfielder Jean Makoun was sent off in the 73rd minute. With Makoun now suspended in the aftermath of his red card, the stage is set for Bradley to earn prime minutes in an attempt to win over manager Gerard Houllier and secure a constant place in the starting XI for the duration of the season.
Here is how all of the Americans playing abroad fared this past week (statistics encompass all competitions):