Dempsey, Fulham, Fall in Europa League Final

U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey became the first American player ever to appear in a European cup final when he came on in the 55th minute of Fulham’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid yesterday. (Former U.S. internationals David Wagner and Thomas Dooley, who were both born in Germany to American fathers, were members of the Schalke 04 team that won the 1997 UEFA Cup final, but neither one appeared in the two-leg final. Roy Hodgson was the coach of Schalke’s opponent that year, Inter Milan.)

After the Cottagers’ Simon Davies matched Diego Forlan’s 32nd minute opener with a strike of his own five minutes later, Fulham began dominating possession. They couldn’t find the net, though, and the game went to extra time tied at 1.

In the second extra period, after 116 minutes of play, Atletico’s Sergio Aguero squared the ball for Forlan, who had Fulham defender Brede Hangeland all over him in the six-yard box. Forlan got a foot to it, bouncing the ball past Mark Schwarzer and in at the far post.

It was a brutal loss for Fulham, which had battled through 18 Europa League games to reach this final, the first in club history. Dempsey came on for a banged-up Bobby Zamora and had a few decent exchanges, but not a huge impact over all.