I kept hearing the Star-Spangled Banner in my head during Fulham’s critical 1-0 victory over Everton today as six Americans, five of whom currently still play for the national team, took part in the game. Kasey Keller, the US all-time leader in wins and shutouts, posted another of each at the club level for Fulham and his opposite number, Tim Howard, the present and future in goal for the national team, only conceded one goal.
Who scored the goal for the Cottagers? None other than Brian McBride, the only American ever to score in more than one World Cup. McBride was replaced late in the game by another American, Clint Dempsey, who has arguably been Fulham’s best player all season. McBride’s goal was straight out of his personal scrapbook, a trademark header in front of the net that didn’t look pretty, but got the job done.
Carlos Bocanegra also came on as a substitute for the home team and didn’t acquit himself too badly, and Eddie Johnson started the game alongside McBride up front and had a few chances.
Fulham desperately needed the three points today and they got them, moving themselves to within reach of safety, something I predicted for this club before the season started. Everton, on the other hand, dropped points they couldn’t afford to drop with Portsmouth and Aston Villa charging hard for 5th place behind them, and the Toffees’ schedule gets considerably trickier in the next few weeks.
One thing I know is the fortunes of both Fulham and Everton depend largely on the Americans on both clubs’ rosters. Tim Howard is going to have to come up big in goal for Everton, which, to be fair, he has done all season, and Fulham will be in dire need of goals down the stretch, something Johnson, McBride, and Dempsey are all capable of providing.