UEFA Europa LeagueSome MLS alumni had more than a passing interest in the Europa League second round draw held in Nyon, Switzerland. Clint Dempsey's and Eddie Johnson's Fulham play Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) with the first leg being played at Craven Cottage. Tim Howard's (and Landon Donovan's) Everton play Sporting Lisbon (Portugal) with the first leg being played at Goodison Park. Former Rapids midfielder Dedi Ben Dayan's Hapoel Tel Aviv face Russia's Rubin Kazan and will travel for the first leg.
All first leg matches will be played on Feb. 18, 2010, with the return legs on Feb. 25.
Elsewhere Around the WorldIn Australia, in Week 20 of the Hyundai A-League on Dec. 18, former Revs defender Tony Lochhead played the full 90 and picked up a yellow card as Wellington Phoenix tied 1-1 at Adelaide United. That was the 10th tie of the season for the Phoenix, by far the most in the A-League (the next most is six ties by three other teams). In other Sunday action, FC Dallas alumnus Victor Sikora played the full 90 as Perth Glory lost 2-0 at Gold Coast United.
In Costa Rica, on Dec. 16, in the Torneo de Invierno semifinals first leg, MetroStars alumnus Pablo Brenes played the full 90 as Brujas beat Perez Zeledon 2-1. In the second leg on Dec. 20, Brenes scored the first goal in the 2-1 win that saw Brujas advance to the championship game, where they will play Puntarenas.
In the other semifinal, Punatarenas beat Herediano 4-3 on aggregate. In the first leg, played on Dec. 16, former Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire forward Andy Herron and San Jose Clash alumnus Maurice Solis both played the full 90 as Herediano lost 3-1 at Punatarenas. In the return leg on Dec. 20, Solis scored Herediano's first goal in the 2-1 win that wasn't quite good enough for them to advance to the title game.
In England, on Dec. 19, former Revs striker Clint Dempsey turned in another strong performance for Fulham as the Cottagers bounced Manchester United 3-0 at Craven Cottage. Much-maligned striker Bobby Zamora scored Fulham's second goal on an assist from Dempsey. Kansas City Wizards and FC Dallas alumnus Eddie Johnson did not dress for the Cottagers. In other Saturday action, ex-Columbus Crew goalkeeper Brad Friedel posted his fourth consecutive shutout as Aston Villa won its fourth consecutive EPL contest 1-0 at home against Stoke City. Brad Guzan had his usual watching brief on the Villa bench. Christmas did not come early for former D.C. United skipper Ryan Nelsen as Blackburn Rovers lost 2-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur. After the game, Rovers manager Sam Allardyce criticized referee Peter Walton for allowing Spurs' first goal, scored in first-half stoppage time by Peter Crouch. Allardyce claimed the lanky Crouch had fouled Nelsen on the play. Former Red Bulls striker Jozy Altidore did not dress for Hull's 3-0 drubbing at Arsenal.
In Sunday action on Dec. 20, ex-Rapids goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann posted his second EPL shutout of the month as Wolves beat Burnley 2-0 at home. Also on Sunday, the struggles of Tim Howard's Everton continued. The ex-MetroStars goalkeeper had little to do as the Toffees dominated Birmingham City, but could not press home their advantage and had to settle for a 1-1 tie. Everton have not won at Goodison Park since a 3-0 victory over Blackburn on Sept. 20.
A rung down the ladder in The Championship, former New England Revolution assistant Paul Mariner made a losing home managerial debut as Plymouth Argyle went down 1-0 to Coventry City on Dec. 19. That result saw the Pilgrims drop to the bottom of the standings.
Further down the English football food chain in League One, ex-Toronto FC midfielder Andy Welsh dressed but did not play as Yeovil Town tied 1-1 at Hartlepool United on Dec. 19.
In France, on Dec. 19, Fire alumnus Carlos Bocanegra dressed but did not play as Stade Rennes won 1-0 at home over Paris Saint-Germain.
In Germany, in the final weekend of action before the short winter break, former MetroStars midfielder Michael Bradley played the full 90 as Borussia Moenchengladbach lost 3-2 at Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen in one of the most memorable games of the season. The Foals took a 2-1 lead after 54 minutes but couldn't hold it as Leverkusen rallied to remain unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.
Under the Friday night lights in 2.Bundesliga action, ex-Wizards and Chivas USA striker Matt Taylor dressed but did not play for FSV Frankfurt in their 1-0 road win at TUS Koblenz. In Sunday action, a knee injury once again kept former FC Dallas marksman Kenny Cooper on the sidelines as 1860 Munich tied 1-1 at FC Union Berlin.
In Israel, in Week 14 of Ligat Al, former Rapids midfielder Dedi Ben Dayan scored two goals as Hapoel Tel Aviv crushed Hapoel Ra'anana 5-0 at home on Dec. 21.
In Portugal, former D.C. United starlet Freddy Adu dressed but did not play as Belenenses lost 1-0 at Uniao de Leiria on Dec. 20.
In Scotland, on Dec. 19, the resurgence of former Fire midfielder DaMarcus Beasley continued with Rangers as he played the full 90 and scored the Light Blues' fifth goal in their 6-1 demolition of Motherwell at Ibrox Stadium. In other Saturday action, Real Salt Lake alumnus Kenny Deuchar played the full 90 as St. Johnstone beat St. Mirren 1-0 at home. The Johnnies' ex-Toronto FC striker, Collin Samuel, missed the game through injury. Former Revs midfielder Andy Dorman was out of the St. Mirren lineup due to injury as well.
Down a rung in Scottish Division One, former Revs striker Paul Keegan made a 15-minute appearance as Airdrie United lost 5-3 at Ross County on Dec. 19.
On Dec. 21, former Toronto FC starlet Maurice Edu returned to the field for the first time since knee surgery in the summer. He played 80 minutes in a closed-door game at Rangers' training complex against Partick Thistle.
In South Africa, on Dec. 19, Bulgaria legend and former D.C. United and Chicago Fire striker Hristo Stoichkov led his Mamelodi Sundowns to a 2-1 road win at Kaizer Chiefs. The victory was the fourth in a row for the Brazilians, who are now unbeaten in their last seven games. In Sunday action, two-team MLS alumnus Dipsy Selolwane came out of the game after 29 minutes as Ajax Cape Town lost 4-2 at Bloemfontein Celtic.
In Spain, on Dec. 20, Mexico legend and former Dallas Burn striker Hugo Sanchez was dismissed as Almeria head coach after the Rojiblancos lost 2-0 at fellow La Liga strugglers Espanyol. Almeria is winless in five straight games and stands one point above the relegation zone. The loss was the Andalucian side's seventh defeat in 11 games. Constantin Gaica was appointed interim head coach.
Performance of the WeekLast week DaMarcus Beasley just beat out Brad Friedel for the weekly kudos. It was another outstanding week for both players, but this time Friedel gets the nod. The former Columbus Crew goalkeeper has been in commanding form during Villa's impressive run that has seen them climb into fourth place in the EPL standings. On Saturday, Dec. 19, Friedel extended his shutout streak to four games in a 1-0 win over Stoke City. For that, the proud UCLA product gets the POTW.
Mark C. Young is an Emmy Award-winning freelance writer/TV producer who has covered several FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games. He is a contributor to Goal.com and also writes for the blog "No Mas."