AMSTERDAM – A handful of Americans were busy helping their European clubs post shutout victories on Saturday afternoon, with Tim Howard standing tall as Everton got back on track with a 1-0 defeat of Premier League guests West Ham United.
The US netminder rang up one big save and gobbled up five Hammers crosses in recording his 11th clean sheet of the season. Howard's lone stop came when he tipped over an Andy Carroll drive near the hour.
Thanks to a Romelu Lukaku strike nine minutes from time, the Toffees tentatively rose to sixth place by snapping a two-game losing skid. The win was also Howard's fourth in a row at home and fourth straight against West Ham.
Around the league, Clint Dempsey closed out his Fulham loan spell with 90 minutes in their 3-1 derby loss to visiting Chelsea.
After an active early phase that saw him put a golden chance wide, the Seattle Sounders attacker was largely starved for touches. The game remained scoreless until Blues ace Andre Schürrle crammed a hat trick into 16 early second half minutes to keep Fulham winless in seven and glued to the bottom.
Not to be outdone by Howard's Everton, Geoff Cameron and Stoke City got well, climbing six points clear of the danger zone with a 1-0 home defeat of fading title chasers Arsenal.
Though he helped the Potters post their first shutout in nearly three months, Cameron also squandered a good corner kick opportunity by shooting wide shortly before teammate Jonathan Walters buried a spot kick to give Stoke their seventh win in the last 10 against Arsenal.
One flight down in the Championship, Tim Ream and Bolton won consecutive games for the first time since November with a 4-0 rout of derby rivals Blackburn.
The USMNT call-up pitched in with a solid effort at left back and passed the ball around with precision. The win, Bolton's fourth straight against their nearby nemesis at the Reebok, lifted them to six points above the trap door in 18th place.
Elsewhere, Oguchi Onyewu put on another encouraging show to help Sheffield Wednesday start a new win streak by blanking guests Middlesbrough 1-0.
The burly center back worked a well-rounded game to go with his dominance in the air. Mired in the bottom three when Onyewu arrived, the Owls have now soared 12 points clear of the trouble zone to 15th place. Wednesday are unbeaten in the American's five starts, allowing just two goals with him on the field.
In a duel of young Americans, Daniel Williams and Reading rallied late for a 1-1 home share with Duane Holmes' Yeovil Town.
While Williams enjoyed a rather business-like full outing, Holmes was robbed on a rocket from long range midway through the first half. The young playmaker was removed in a tactical switch with 17 minutes to play, after the second of three red cards shown to the visitors. The result left Reading a point shy of the last promotion playoff place, while the Glovers used their point to climb out of the cellar.
Nottingham Forest defender Eric Lichaj made an abbreviated return from a groin injury, leaving near the break of a 4-1 home drubbing from Wigan.
Despite his team being down a goal, the right back was enjoying a good shift until he was removed with what appeared to be another upper leg setback. The defeat dropped Forest, who are winless in three, to fifth place.
Will Packwood and Jonathan Spector went the distance in the Birmingham City back line as the away side were edged out 1-0 at Ipswich Town.
Spector, who picked up a yellow card at right back, contributed a team-high four tackles and 15 clearances. Rising Brums center back Packwood added 18 clearances, but it was all not enough to keep the 17th place visitors from losing for the third time in four.
Brek Shea went 35 quiet sub minutes as Barnsley sank to the bottom after a 5-0 loss at Huddersfield Town. Though only two points from safe air, the Tykes are now without a win in seven away from home.
Finally, Zak Whitbread was an unused sub as Derby County missed a chance to grab the second automatic promotion slot by falling 2-0 at Burnley.