AMSTERDAM — It was a typically busy Boxing Day for Americans employed in England, this year headlined by Fulham star Clint Dempsey finally breaking his Stamford Bridge duck to stuff home a 1-1 equalizer at main rivals Chelsea.
The in-form Texan was on the receiving end of another "CONCACAF Connection" 11 minutes past intermission to force the third west London derby share of 2011. A right flank cross from Costa Rica winger Bryan Ruiz dialed direct for Dempsey, who muscled the ball past Blues 'keeper Petr Cech to bag his fourth goal of December.
Looking well on his way to a Cottagers Player of the Season repeat, Dempsey also extended his American record for goals in the EPL to 39. The strike also took him to nine across all competitions, tying him atop this term's club goal chart for US internationals with AZ Alkmaar's Jozy Altidore.
Also in the Premier League, Brad Guzan posted his first career EPL shutout in Aston Villa's 0-0 stalemate at nearby Stoke City. With both sides seemingly unable to find the frame, the former Chivas USA backstop needed only a lone save on Trinidad and Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones to record the clean sheet.
Everton netminder Tim Howard was also fit to be tied, remaining unbeaten at Sunderland with a 1-1 draw. Beaten only by a deflected Jack Colback shot, the New Jersey native leaked no more than a goal for the seventh straight match.
On the south side of Stanley Park, Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers with Tennessee-born Adam Henley playing the hero, clearing a Daniel Agger header off the line in second-half stoppage time of his first senior-team start. The 17-year-old left back has represented Wales on the U-19 level, but is not cap tied.
Down one flight, US Under-17 left back Danny Potts made a fine 90-minute Championship debut as West Ham United settled for a 1-1 share at Jonathan Spector's Birmingham City. The former Hammer shifted to right back to face his old teammates, also pitching in a quality full shift for the hosts.
Meanwhile, Robbie Findley watched from the dugout as sinking relegation bait Nottingham Forest dropped a 1-0 home decision to Peterborough United. The Reds have suffered shutout defeats in three straight at home and are winless in six overall.
One more level below in League One, Frank Simek played a part in creating two goals as Carlisle United staged a persistent 3-3 draw at Preston North End. Playing his second game back from a long injury lay-off, the right back assisted the Cumbrians' second with a tempting cross and facilitated their third with another delivery that eluded control by a defender.