American Exports: Brad Guzan makes case for USMNT No. 1 job in Aston Villa win
AMSTERDAM – Terrence Boyd played rally hero for Rapid Vienna on Saturday, notching a goal and the game-tying assist over the final half-hour of a 2-2 home draw with Mattersburg.
Having narrowly missed wide on a chance just before halftime, the US forward made no mistake on the hour mark to cut the visitors' two-goal lead in half with his team-high 11th goal of the season. Only seven minutes later, Boyd teed up Deni Alar's leveler with a square pass in the area.
Despite their comeback, the disappointing draw kept Rapid from lowering their five-point deficit on Austria's second Champions League qualifying berth.
Over in England's Premier League, Brad Guzan, who many tab as Tim Howard's replacement if the USMNT No. 1 can't recover for US qualifiers in March, turned in another fine performance as Aston Villa fought back for a 2-1 victory at Reading.
The US netminder logged three saves, including a show-stopper on Adam Le Fondre's header just after the opening whistle. Thanks to their first road victory since mid-December, Villa tentatively climbed out of the drop zone.
Meanwhile, in the FA Cup, Everton failed to get the job done without the injured Tim Howard, dropping a 3-0 decision to quarterfinal visitors Wigan.
One floor down in the Championship, Jonathan Spector went the distance in midfield as Birmingham City stormed back from an early leak to top Derby County 3-1.
The win vaulted them four places to 14th, seven points clear of the relegation fray. Conor Doyle went unused by the Rams, who are now winless in eight.
Meanwhile, Stuart Holden watched from the home dugout as Bolton blanked Brighton Hove & Albion 1-0. Red-hot Wanderers pulled to within three points of the promotion playoff zone by achieving their first five-game win streak since December of 2006.
Turning to the Bundesliga, Daniel Williams worked wire-to-wire in Hoffenheim's 3-0 cruise at basement side Greuther Fürth. Club and country mate Fabian Johnson was scratched with a hip knock as the relegation fighters snapped a four-game losing run.
Next door in the Eredivisie, Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar remained winless in six by settling for a 1-1 home share with west-side rivals ADO Den Haag.
The US striker put in a solid showing, but missed on an early breakaway, his best chance of the night. Though AZ nudged up one rung to 14th, the draw left them vulnerable to being dropped into the bottom three by Sunday combatants FC Zwolle and Roda JC.
Across the border in Belgium's Jupiler League, Sacha Kljestan returned from suspension with a full shift in Anderlecht's 1-0 triumph over visiting Mechelen.
The midfielder was granted a late chance to add on, only to fire just wide of the target. Combined with Zulte Waregem's home loss, the victory allowed Anderlecht to restore a six-point lead atop the table.
To the south in La Liga, Oguchi Onyewu was an unused sub in Málaga's 1-1 draw at Real Valladolid. Now winless in three, the Anchovies saw their edge for Spain's final Champions League invite cut to a single point.
Finally, in Israel, Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona closed the regular season with a 2-0 home win against Bnei Sachnin. The defending champs, who have posted three consecutive shutout victories, will still lose all hope of repeating in the league's championship playoff if current leaders Maccabi Tel Aviv win on Sunday.