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EUROPE: New pact for Brad Friedel?

Former U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel, having sufficiently convinced Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier that he remains atop his game at 39, is said to be on the verge of renewing his contract with the English Premier League club.

Friedel, who starred at UCLA, has played every minute of the season save for two games last August in the UEFA Europa Cup and English League Cup clashes in September and October, when former Chivas USA keeper Brad Guzan got the call.

Friedel, who was part of the U.S.'s 1994 and 1998 World Cup teams and a key contributor to the Americans' quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup, has played in England -- with Liverpool, Blackburn and the past three seasons for Aston Villa -- since 1997.

Tony McGill, Friedel's agent, told reporters in Birmingham on Monday that talks had begun with Aston Villa on a new contract. The current deal ends this summer.

“Brad is very happy at Villa. If Brad was not happy, he would not be talking over a new contract,” McGill said. “I have spoken with [Aston Villa] chief executive Paul Faulkner, and talks are going very well indeed.”

Aston Villa, owned by Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner, is trying to stave off relegation to the second-tier Championship. The Villans (8-13-10) are 15th in the 20-team league, just two points above the drop zone. The bottom three clubs are relegated.

ETC.: Irvine's Benny Feilhaber saw no action with the U.S. team and missed AGF Aarhus' Danish second-division victory Sunday over Kolding with a thigh strain. … Rangers FC, with Fontana's Maurice Edu, missed a chance to grab the top spot in Scotland's Premier League, and perhaps cost itself a third successive title, with a 3-2 loss at home against Dundee United. The Blues (21-5-2) trail archrival Celtic (21-3-4) by two points. … Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan wasn't on the field for Belgian power Anderlecht's playoff-round opener, a 3-1 loss at home to Standard Liege that dropped the Mauves (19-4-8) into second place, two points behind Racing Genk. … Hednesford Town, with Santa Monica's Jay Denny, plays in the first leg of England's Southern League Cup final Tuesday at Hemel Hempstead Town. The Pitmen will be home for the April 12 second leg.

  • AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE

D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)

Club: Saint-Etienne (France, Ligue 1)

Last week: 41st-minute substitute at center back for injured Jay DeMerit in the U.S. national team's 1-0 loss Tuesday to Paraguay; 90 minutes at left back as seventh-place Les Verts (10-9-10) drew, 1-1, Sunday vs. Valenciennes

Season: 25 league games (25 starts) with 2 goals, 27 games (27 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions

Next: Saturday at 17th-place Auxerre (6-8-15)

M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)

Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier League)

Last week: 90 minutes in central midfield in the U.S. national team's 1-0 loss Tuesday to Paraguay; was not on the game-day roster for Saturday's 2-2 draw at Everton

Season: 2 games (1 start) in all competitions for Aston Villa; 22 games (20 starts) with 4 goals for Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)

Next: Sunday vs. ninth-place Newcastle United (10-12-9)

M/D JAY DENNY (Santa Monica)

Club: Hednesford Town (England, Southern League Premier Division)

Last week: 90 minutes as the fourth-place Pitmen (22-9-5) tied, 1-1, Tuesday vs. Didcot Town and lost, 4-1, Saturday at Evesham United

Season: 36 league games (34 starts) with 1 goal, 44 games (42 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions

Next: Tuesday at Hemel Hempstead Town in first leg of the Southern League Cup final, Saturday vs. 17th-place Bedford Town (8-20-7)

M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)

Club: Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier Division)

Last week: 90 minutes, with an assist on Steven Naismith's goal, as the second-place Blues (21-5-2) were beaten, 3-2, Saturday vs. Dundee United

Season: 23 league games (17 starts) with 2 goals, 37 games (30 starts) with 5 goals in all competitions

Next: Tuesday at eighth-place St. Johnstone (8-12-10), Sunday at 12th-place Hamilton (2-19-10)

M BENNY FEILHABER (Irvine/UCLA)

Club: AGF Aarhus (Denmark, 1.Division)

Last week: Was in camp but not on the game roster for the U.S.-Paraguay game; did not play for the first-place Dettvie (14-1-3) in a 3-0 win over Kolding

Season: 15 league games (15 starts) with 4 goals, 18 games (17 starts) overall with 7 goals

Next: Sunday at fifth-place FC Vestsjaelland (8-5-6)

G BRAD FRIEDEL (Bay Village, Ohio/UCLA)

Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier Division)

Last week: 90 minutes with 3 saves for the 16th-place Villans (8-13-10) in a 2-2 draw at Everton

Season: 31 league games (31 starts), 54 goals allowed, 91 saves, 5 shutouts; 36 games (36 starts), 66 goals allowed, 112 saves, 5 shutouts in all competitions

Next: Sunday vs. ninth-place Newcastle United (10-12-9)

M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)

Club: RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)

Last week: 77th-minute subsitute in the U.S. national team's 1-0 loss Tuesday to Paraguay; did not play for Les Mauves (19-4-8) in a 3-1 loss Sunday to Standard Liege in a playoff opener, which dropped them to second place

Season: 18 league games (13 starts) with 2 goals, 26 games (21 starts) with 3 goals in all competitions

Next: Sunday at fourth-place Club Brugge (16-9-6)

D DALLAS MOORE (Santa Monica)

Club: St. Neots Town FC (England, UCL Premier Division)

Last week: 90 minutes as the first-place Saints (29-1-5) won, 2-1, Saturday at Stewarts & Lloyds Corby and 5-1 Saturday vs. Sleaford Town

Season: 11 league games (11 starts) with 1 goal, 13 games (13 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions for St. Neots Town; 13 games (13 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions for Halesowen Town (England)

Next: Saturday vs. 15th-place Cogenhoe United (8-16-9)

F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)

Club: FC Krasnodar (Russia, Russian Premier League)

Last week: Did not play as fifth-place FCK (1-0-2) drew, 1-1, at CSKA Moscow

Season: 2 league games (0 starts) with 1 goal, 3 games (0 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions for Krasnodar; 25 games (20 starts) with 14 goals for Randers (Denmark)

Next: Saturday vs. 10th-place FK Amkar Perm (1-1-1)

F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)

Club: Rot Weiss Ahlen (Germany, 3. Bundesliga)

Last week: Started, played 75 minutes for 15th-place Rot Weiss (8-13-9) in a 2-0 loss Saturday vs. Saarbruecken

Season: 22 league games (22 starts) with 13 goals, 23 games (23 starts) with 13 goals in all competitions

Next: Wednesday at 17th-place SV Sandhausen (8-14-8), Saturday vs. 20th-place Bayern Munich II (5-17-8)

F BOBBY WOOD (Irvine)

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

Past week: Started both group-stage games for the U.S. at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Guatemala, going 69 minutes and scoring the first goal in a 4-0 victory Tuesday over Suriname and 35 minutes in a 2-0 win Saturday over Panama; was not available for the ninth-place Lions (11-8-9) in a 2-1 victory Sunday at Alemannia Aachen

Season: 5 league games (0 starts), 23 games (14 starts) with 7 goals in all competitions

Next: With U.S. U-20s: Wednesday vs. Guatemala in quarterfinals, Friday in semifinals, Sunday in final/third-place game; 1860: Saturday at 12th-place FSV Frankfurt (10-13-4)