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Anderlecht, Rangers in command

10/20/2011

RSC Anderlecht's aim is to remind everyone in Belgium who's boss. Rangers just wants more hardware.

The second-tier European powerhouses, both featuring Southern California talent, have quickly made their points, racing atop their leagues' standings -- and one of them is threatening to run away from the field.

Scottish giant Rangers, with Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra and Fontana's Maurice Edu, returned from the international break on a sour note -- a 1-1 home draw with St. Mirren -- but stand seven points ahead of Motherwell and 10 in front of archrival Celtic. More impressive: Gers has a plus-19 goal difference after just 11 games.

The Glasgow club, founded in 1872, has won 54 top-tier league titles -- that's a world record -- and is seeking its fourth straight championship. Hated crosstown/sectarian rival Celtic, which has won 42 Scottish league championships, is, as always, the real competition.

Rangers or Celtic have won every title since 1986.

Brussels-based Anderlecht, Belgium's foremost club, blew it last year, nosediving during the playoff phase after winning the regular-season title, and the Mauves must make amends.

With Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan taking on a more influential role in midfield this season, RSCA is off to a 7-1-2 start, good for a one-point lead on Club Brugge, and coming off a 5-0 rout of Standard Liege, last year's runner-up and the Jupiler League champion in 2009.

EUROPA REDUX: UEFA's Europa League returns to action Thursday. Group L leader Anderlecht (2-0-0) plays at Austria's Sturm Graz (1-1-0). Tottenham (1-0-1), without former UCLA star Brad Friedel -- he's Spurs' league goalkeeper -- is home against Russia's Rubin Kazan in first-place showdown.

WORTH NOTING: Friedel and Tottenham went on the road to hold unbeaten Newcastle United to a 2-2 English Premier League draw. ... Manhattan Beach's Michael Bradley and unfancied Chievo Verona played first-place Juventus to a 0-0 draw in Italian league action. The Flying Donkeys, whom Bradley joined at the end of August, is seventh in Serie A with a 2-1-3 mark and Sunday faces struggling Inter Milan, with just one win in six games. ... Irvine's Bobby Wood made his first appearance of the season for German second-division side 1860 Munich, coming on in the 88th minute of a 2-0 loss at previously winless Hansa Rostock for Daniel Halfar.

  • AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE

M DANNY BARRERA (Thousand Oaks)

Club: FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda (Serbia, SuperLiga)

Last week: Did not play as the seventh-place Plavi Golubovi (3-2-3) lost, 2-0, at Partizan Belgrade

Season: 0 games

Next: Saturday vs. ninth-place Rad (3-4-1)

D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)

Club: Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier Division)

Last week: Started, played 71 minutes in the U.S.'s 1-0 loss Oct. 18 vs. Ecuador; 90 minutes as the first-place Blues (9-0-2) drew, 1-1, Saturday vs. St. Mirren

Season: 7 league games (7 starts) with 1 goal; 10 games (10 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions for Rangers; 11 games (11 starts) with 2 goals for all clubs

Next: Sunday at fifth-place Hearts (5-3-2)

F TRISTAN BOWEN (Van Nuys)

Club: KSV Roeselare (Belgium, Tweedeklasse)

Last week: Did not play as 11th-place KSVR (3-3-3) won, 3-2, Saturday at FCV Dender EH

Season: 3 league games (3 starts); 4 games (4 starts) in all competitions

Next: Sunday vs. 17th-place AFC Tubize (1-6-2)

M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)

Club: Chievo Verona (Italy, Serie A)

Last week: 45th-minute substitute in the U.S.'s 1-0 loss Oct. 11 vs. Ecuador; 90 minutes, with a second-half yellow card, as the seventh-place Flying Donkeys (2-1-3) drew, 0-0, Sunday vs. Juventus

Season: 5 league games (4 starts)

Next: Sunday at Inter Milan (1-4-1)

M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)

Club: Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier League)

Last week: Started, played 45 minutes in the U.S.'s 1-0 loss Oct. 18 vs. Ecuador; started, played 71 minutes as the first-place Blues (9-0-2) drew, 1-1, Saturday vs. St. Mirren

Season: 9 league games (9 starts) with 2 goals; 13 games (13 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions

Next: Sunday at fifth-place Hearts (5-3-2)

G BRAD FRIEDEL (UCLA)

Club: Tottenham (England, Premier League)

Last week: 90 minutes, with 4 saves, as sixth-place Spurs (4-2-1) drew, 2-2, Sunday at Newcastle United

Season: 7 league games (7 starts) with 12 goals against, 32 saves and 2 shutouts

Next: Thursday in a UEFA Europa League Group A game vs. Rubin Kazan (Russia); Sunday at last-place Blackburn (1-5-2)

M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)

Club: RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)

Last week: 90 minutes as the first-place Mauves (7-1-2) won, 5-0, Saturday vs. Standard Liege

Season: 9 league games (9 starts) with 1 goal; 13 games (13 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions

Next: Thursday in a UEFA Europa League Group L game at Sturm Graz (Austria); Saturday at 15th-place Westerlo (1-5-4)

F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)

Club: FC Krasnodar (Russia, Russian Premier League)

Last week: 90 minutes as Armenia was eliminated in Euro 2012 qualifying with a 2-1 loss Oct. 11 at Ireland; started, played 76 minutes as the ninth-place Bulls (9-10-8) won, 2-0, Saturday vs. FK Rostov-Na-Donu

Season: 21 league games (14 starts) with 6 goals, 22 games (14 starts) with 6 goals in all competitions

Next: Saturday at 12th-place Volga Nizhny Novgorod (7-16-4)

D BRAD RUSIN (UCLA)

Club: HB Køge (Denmark, SAS-Ligaen)

Last week: 60th-minute substitute as the last-place Swans (1-10-1) lost, 3-1, Sunday vs. Sonderjyske

Season: 7 league games (5 starts) with 2 goals; 8 games (5 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions

Next: Sunday vs. second-place FC Midtjylland (8-4-0)

F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)

Club: SC Paderborn 07 (Germany, 2.Bundesliga)

Last week: Was on the 18-man roster but did not play as sixth-place SCP (6-2-3) won, 1-0, Friday vs. Eintracht Braunschweig

Season: 6 league games (2 starts) with 1 goal; 7 games (4 starts) with 4 goals in all competitions

Next: Friday at ninth-place 1860 Munich (5-6-0); Tuesday in a German Cup second-round game vs. FC Erzgebirge Aue

F BOBBY WOOD (Irvine)

Club: TSV 1860 Munich (Germany, 2.Bundesliga)

Last week: 88th-minute substitute for the ninth-place Lions (5-6-0) in a 2-0 loss Friday at Hansa Rostock.

Season: 1 league game (0 starts)

Next: Friday vs. sixth-place Paderborn (6-2-3); Tuesday in a German Cup second-round game at Fortuna Düsseldorf