American Exports: Fabian Johnson crucial for Hoffenheim; Yanks struggle in EPL
AMSTERDAM – Hoffenheim right back Fabian Johnson capped a strong showing against summer suitors Borussia Mönchengladbach by winning the late spot kick equalizer in a 2-2 road share on Saturday afternoon.
The US international was effective in helping the visitors get forward after conceding twice in the opening 18 minutes. With 11 minutes to play, Johnson was upended in the area by Foals defender Martin Stranzl, allowing Sejad Salihović to level matters by converting the penalty. The point gained lifted 10th place Hoffenheim, who are now unbeaten in four Bundesliga games, to seven points clear of the danger zone.
Elsewhere, John Anthony Brooks made a late cameo as Hertha Berlin climbed to seventh place with a 2-1 victory at Stuttgart.
Turning to England's Premier League, seven saves from Tim Howard were not enough as Everton suffered a gut-punch 1-0 defeat in stoppage time at Chelsea. The US netminder looked in line to be the hero until the waning moments of the match, with his work including a fantastic double stop on Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanović just past the hour mark.
However, Chelsea's 25th shot of the day found its way into the Everton goal in the 93rd minute. Howard was only able to get a deflecting touch to Frank Lampard's in-swinging free kick, leaving John Terry to bundle home from close range.
The Toffees dropped a second straight EPL match for the first time in a year to fall eight points off the Champions League pace in sixth place.
Around the league, Geoff Cameron went the distance at right back in Stoke City's tough 1-0 loss at Manchester City.
Though largely solid in his own end on the day, the former Houston Dynamo man was also one of three Potters that neglected to clear Aleksandar Kolarov's low cross for Yaya Touré's 70th-minute decider.
Stoke lost for the eighth time in an 11-game win drought away from home in EPL play to dangle three points over the trap door in 14th place.
Jozy Altidore was removed after seeing just 12 non-defensive touches over the opening 45 minutes of Sunderland's 4-1 loss at Arsenal .
The striker managed to spring a few breakouts for the visitors, but was generally left stranded as the Gunners waltzed their way to three first half goals. Sunderland boss Gus Poyet also replaced hot hand Adam Johnson at intermission, perhaps keeping the attack duo fresher for next weekend's Capital One Cup final against heavy favorites Manchester City.
By losing consecutive league games for the first time since early December, Altidore & Co. squandered an opportunity to climb back out of the drop zone.
Also, Clint Dempsey remained a spectator for his last match on loan from the Seattle Sounders as Fulham's late collapse forced them to settle for a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
There were plenty of happier results for Americans playing in the Championship, with Oguchi Onyewu returning early from an injury layoff in Sheffield Wednesday's 2-0 victory at Huddersfield Town.
The veteran center back worked 70 minutes as the Owls extended their league unbeaten streak to seven games and moved nine points clear of the relegation mire.
Jonathan Spector also made his comeback from a long stay on the shelf, taking up right back next to Will Packwood in Birmingham City's 2-1 rally win at Blackpool.
Making his first appearance since October 5, Spector pitched in with a good two-way game on his flank. Meanwhile, Packwood rang up a game-best 23 clearances, 10 more than any other player.
The win, Birmingham's sixth in their last nine away from home, lifted them two spots to 16th place.
Loan winger Brek Shea made it a hat trick of American returns in the Championship, going the final 28 minutes to help Barnsley close out a 1-0 victory over visiting Millwall.
The Stoke City temp took good care of the ball during his time on the field as the Tykes posted their first victory in over a month. On a day when each of the bottom three scored wins, Barnsley pulled to within two points of the safety zone.
Tim Ream and Bolton got well with a 2-0 triumph over guests Watford.
The US international put in a solid all-around effort as Wanderers recorded their first clean sheet since Boxing Day to snap a nine-game Championship win drought. Though they remain in 19th place, Bolton climbed six points clear of the danger area.
Reading midfielder Daniel Williams led the home side with four tackles in a 1-0 defeat to Blackburn. It was a hot-and-cold afternoon for the US international, who passed well but occasionally left the gate open as the sixth place Royals fell at home for the second straight time.
Another injury returnee, Eric Lichaj, watched on from the away dugout as Nottingham Forest fell 3-1 to Burnley. Likewise, Zak Whitbread was an unused sub as promotion chasers Derby County edged visiting Bournemouth 1-0.
Finally, in Austria's top flight, Terrence Boyd came up empty in Rapid Vienna's frustrating 0-0 home draw with Grödig.
The forward nodded one good look at goal agonizingly wide in the 79th minute and then was robbed on a rebound chance four minutes from time. Rapid stayed four points behind their visitors in third place as their home winless streak reached five games.