Tim Howard's penchant for stopping penalty kicks and Nicolas Anelka's penchant for missing crucial ones converged Saturday on one fateful FA Cup moment.
With Everton trailing after an early Leighton Baines miss in a penalty kick shootout with Chelsea, the United States' No. 1 keeper tilted the scales back in the Toffees' favor. Anelka went to essentially the same spot he chose when he missed the deciding penalty in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United, and Howard was all over it, making an athletic, diving save to his right to breathe new life into Everton's FA Cup hopes.
Everton didn't miss after Howard's save, and Ashley Cole skied his attempt way over the bar, allowing Everton to advance to the fifth round while avenging its loss to Chelsea in the 2009 FA Cup final.
Some 2,700 miles away and a day later, Freddy Adu re-emerged on a soccer pitch.
After almost nine months of inactivity, Adu started for his new club, Caykur Rizespor in Turkey's second division, and he played a leading role in helping his team to victory. Adu set up Rizespor's second goal in the 3-0 result with a tight through ball to his left. More importantly, he played. Period.
Adu's Eurotrip career path, which is going on four years, has taken him to stops in Portugal, France, Greece and now Turkey, yet he hasn't been able to find any semblance of stability. Adu has 11 more games over the next three months to make a favorable impression before facing more uncertainty upon the conclusion of his loan from parent club Benfica in May.
Until then, he seems poised for something that was expected to be a given for him at this point. No, not greatness. Regular playing time.
Here's how Howard, Adu and the rest of the Americans playing abroad fared over the past week (statistics encompass all competitions):