Americans Holden, Howard and Friedel Shine in England
Two weeks ago American international Jonathan Spector scored twice to lead underdog West Ham United in an upset of Manchester United in the Carling Cup. It was hailed as a young American showing his promise in a critical match. This weekend it was three more Americans who provided the key plays to lead their English clubs to victory.
Stuart Holden came back from a few weeks off for injury to provide the winning score in Bolton’s 2-1 victory over Blackburn. After two weeks off for a thigh injury, Holden had the first chance in the second half with a free kick to the far post that was just saved by Balckburn’s Paul Robinson. His chance in the eighty-ninth minute would not be saved. With Bolton down to ten men since middle of the second half and having just seen the match tied by the visitors, the kickoff was flicked downfield to Holden who collected it with his chest and, well…… (52 seconds in)
The critical win moves Bolton to sixth on the table and is a huge psychological win for the club. From a nationalistic perspective, it shows how talented Stuart Holden is and if he can stay healthy, how good of a player he could be for Bob Bradley’s squad. But he was not the only U.S. national team player to lead his club to victory this weekend.
EPL fans know that David Moyes’ Everton club has been struggling in their recent form, having gone winless in their last seven matches including this weekend’s with Wigan. However, it was American keeper Tim Howard who helped keep Everton in their match and keep it scoreless with his teammates’ offensive shortcomings. Although Everton fans should have expected more than a scoreless draw, Howard turned back two shots on goal, including a good chance from Ronnie Stam. Fellow American Brad Friedel also held West Brom scoreless for most of his match, only giving up a late goal in the second half to allow Aston Villa to move ahead of Everton with a 2-1 win Saturday.
Americans have continued to make more and more contributions to international teams, and their success in the EPL only helps USMNT development.