Landon Donovan picked up an utterly ridiculous red card but not much else Wednesday, when Everton was ground down by Tottenham in north London.
Spurs pulled even on points in the English Premier League with second-place Manchester United after a one-sided 2-0 triumph over the Toffees, who nearly scored at the start but couldn't keep up the final 89 minutes.
Donovan played the full 90 minutes for the third straight game and was active, if not sharp, on attack. His off-target feed led to Louis Saha's chance after just 52 seconds, and he picked up a yellow card in first-half stoppage following a late challenge on Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who went down and rolled around after the slightest of contact.
American goalkeeper Brad Friedel wasn't called upon to make a save in the shutout. Aaron Lennon provided Tottenham a 35th-minute lead, and Assou-Ekotto got the second in the 63rd minute with a tremendous blast from distance.
It was Donovan's first meeting with Friedel, his former U.S. national teammate, since the netminder's remarks last month to the BBC World Service praising Fulham's American star Clint Dempsey included this: “You get a player like a Landon Donovan, who in my opinion chose to take the easy road and stay in the States. It’s much harder to ply your trade over here.”
Friedel apologized for the “misunderstanding” after the comment went viral in American soccer circles, and he again clarified his thoughts in an interview with Fox Soccer Channel shown before its coverage of Wednesday's match.
“Landon Donovan is a tremendous player, and he's done great, great things for U.S. Soccer over the years ...,” said Friedel, a former UCLA All-American who was part of the Americans' 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cup teams. “Listen, I don't have one problem with Landon. Where he plays is entirely up to him. It's fantasitc for him that he's re-signed for Everton. I know Everton loved him there the first time, and I'm sure he's going to be great for them this time.”
Friedel said he was “really surprised at how sensitive the media took it” and said a listen to the full BBC interview would make it clear “there was no way, shape or form was I bashing Landon Donovan.”
GAME BY GAME
Jan. 1: at West Bromwich Albion (W, 1-0)
Did not dress
Jan. 4: vs. Bolton (L, 1-2)
Started, 90 minutes
Jan. 7: F.A. Cup third round vs. Tamworth (W, 2-0)
Started, 90 minutes, one assist (Heitinga)
Jan. 11: at Tottenham (L, 0-2)
Started, 90 minutes, yellow card
Jan. 14: at Aston Villa
Jan. 21: vs. Blackburn
Jan. 28: F.A. Cup fourth round vs. Fulham
Feb. 1: vs. Manchester City
Feb. 4: at Wigan Athletic
Feb. 11: vs. Chelsea
Feb. 18: F.A. Cup round of 16 (prospective)
Feb. 25: at Liverpool