Clint Dempsey, Fulham Advance to Europa League Final

Just two and a half years ago, Fulham was on the brink of relegation from the Premier League. Yesterday, the Cottagers advanced to the Europa League final, defeating Hamburg 2-1 in their semifinal second leg.

That Roy Hodgson hiring has worked out quite nicely.

Fulham will face Atletico Madrid in the final on May 12 in Hamburg.

U.S. attacker Clint Dempsey came on for Bobby Zamora in the 57th minute yesterday and played the rest of the game. If Dempsey plays against Atletico on May 12, he’ll become the first American ever to appear in a major European final.

Current L.A. Galaxy and former U.S. striker Jovan Kirovski was a member of the 1997 Borussia Dortmund team that won the Champions League, but he did not play in the final. And according to our crack team of researchers (hat-tip to Rich), there were two former U.S internationals (Thomas Dooley and David Wagner) on the Schalke O4 team that defeated none other than Roy Hodgson and Inter Milan on penalties in the 1997 UEFA Cup final. But neither of those Yanks played in the title game.

In addition to Kirovski, there have been eight Americans involved in the Champions League, but none of them reached the final. DaMarcus Beasley got to the semis with PSV Eindhoven in 2005.

In yesterday’s game, Fulham fell behind in the 20th minute, then got a terrific goal from Simon Davies to pull even in the 69th minute before Zoltan Gera scored the winner off a corner kick scramble six minutes later.

Here are the highlights, moderated by an Eastern European crew in desperate need of coffee:

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