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Fulham Plays a Starring Role in The Great Escape

team_america_fulham2.jpgFulham has done it again. For the second season in a row, they’ve escaped relegation by the slimmest of margins. This time it was on goal difference as they squeezed a victory against Portsmouth at Fratton Park, while the teams below them — Reading and Birmingham both had emphatic victories on the last day (4-0 against Derby, and 4-1 against Blackburn, respectively).

Just a few weeks ago, practically everyone thought Fulham was buried especially after they had poor results against the Premier League bottom feeders such as Newcastle (lost 2-0), Sunderland (lost 3-1) and Derby (drew 2-2). But the turning point was their convincing 2-0 away victory against Reading which was followed two weeks later with an unbelievable comeback against Manchester City (winning 3-2) after being down 2-0.

In hindsight, you have to wonder whether Fox Soccer Channel should have convinced Setanta Sports why Fox should show the Portsmouth against Fulham match instead of Chelsea versus Bolton. Sure, Fox would have been kicking themselves if Chelsea had won the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, but the more thrilling story was at Fratton Park where FulhAm(erica) played a starring role in The Great Escape — which had plenty of American connections. Plus the whole concept of relegation is so foreign to American sport fans, which adds a whole extra level of suspense and intrigue.

Congratulations to Fulham on avoiding the drop. Reading, meanwhile, deserved to go down based on their performances during the past few weeks. If a team can’t show the passion needed to turn up when it really matters, the club doesn’t deserve to survive in the Premier League. The perfect example of this was in the match against Tottenham last week. The fans were in a boisterous mood as they typically are but the most important element failed to turn up that day… the players.

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  1. tampasoccer

    May 12, 2008 at 10:38 am

    After United’s first goal yesterday, those of us with Setanta Extra pretty much watched exclusively the Fulham game live. What a gaffe by FSC. They have resigned to showing the second tier Premier League games. How very sad.
    I can’t stop praising Setanta for the quality of its product. From the selection of leagues and games, to the original programming coming from England.
    If I had to choose one of the three soccer channels at the moment: Setanta, FSC, Gol TV, it would definitely be Setanta. And Gol TV would come in second: I would take Real and Barca games any day before the crappy Premier League games.

  2. Kartik

    May 12, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Great photo with EJ who ironically described the world cup as a “war” even though he was AWOL leading the charge.

    The enthusiasm around Fulham stateside is remarkable and actually could be what puts the PL over the top and refutes my theory about no growth in the US from a few months back. Surfing certain sites from back home (I am India right now) where American Soccer fans congregate the survival of Fulham was by and large the only issue for most fans, and chelsea v man united was simply not important.

    Surfing these sites as I did before writing my article yesterday I was simply shocked at the level of nationalism demonstrated in support of Fulham. I had certainly shown the same a few weeks back when I told everyone Fulham was my sole concern in this EPL season but didn’t realize the number of co-horts on the same page with me!

  3. Ian Cahir

    May 11, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about the FSC/Setanta gaffe. I think FSC would have been much better in the States playing up the Fulham match if they had the chance. I’ll have a post about this at tomorrow.

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