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The disappearance of Fulhamerica

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There was a time not too long ago when Fulham beating Arsenal would have sent shockwaves through the United States. In fact, it was just four months ago when a result like the one the Cottagers enjoyed in Saturday against the Gunners would have been reason for American fans to celebrate in droves.

Unfortunately things have changed dramatically at Craven Cottage and the team once known by some American fans as Fulhamerica has all but disappeared.

Just four months ago you could find as many as four or five Americans on the field at any time for Fulham. Kasey Keller in goal, Carlos Bocanegra in defense, Clint Dempsey in midfield and Brian McBride and Eddie Johnson at forward. It was almost like a dream come true for some American fans, having an EPL team they could call their own, a team that could show what Americans are made of.

That feeling reached its peak at the end of last season, when Fulham managed its great escape from relegation, with Keller and McBride playing key roles in the escape.

Four months later, Clint Dempsey is the only American left.

Kasey Keller went to Seattle, Brian McBride went to Chicago and Carlos Bocanegra went to France. When Eddie Johnson took a loan deal to Cardiff City last week, it left Dempsey as the last American standings and even he is on shaky ground at Fulham, having failed to start either game this season.

Don’t be afraid to admit that you became a Fulham fan because of the Fab Five. You certainly weren’t alone. In an SBI poll of readers conducted last year, there were more Fulham fans than any other team in the world outside of MLS. that includes Manchester United (a close second), Barcelona and Arsenal. A majority of those fans were hooked by the appeal of the Americans on the squad.

That is what probably made Saturday’s win against Arsenal bittersweet for those same fans. There were no Americans on the field for the Cottagers (unless you count goal-scoring hero Brede Hangeland, who was born in Texas but moved to Norway as a young child) and Dempsey didn’t enter the match until late in the second half.

So who do you root for now? The only EPL team with more than one American on it is Aston Villa, with goalkeepers Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan. That means that, barring a late transfer, you won’t be seeing an EPL team fielding more than one American. Is this a coincidence or is it the backlash from having two teams with multiple Americans (Reading and Derby) get relegated while a third barely avoided the drop.

So where have all those American Fulham fans gone? Has the exodus of American players changed your view of the team? Here’s a poll to figure out what Fulhamerica fans have done (please feel free to share your thoughts on the demise of Fulhamerica below):

Comments

  1. I started following Fulham when McBride went over there, and they soon became my “little” EPL team to follow (Man United is my “big” team).

    So it was only a bonus that Fulham ended up getting so many Americans, capped when my Favorite American (Demps) joined up.

    While I love watching Manchester United of course, it was a different kind of enjoyemnt watching FFC as wins & titles of course are not pre-ordained.

    Now that all of the Americans are gone, and the one they hung on to getting marginal playing time, I wasn’t sure how it would be for this season.

    But I find that Fulham still are the team I care most about. I mean I still follow and root for all the American players to do well, in terms of team results, its still only FFC & Man U I care about.

    -Lee

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  2. Graeme: because we’re not “true” Fulham fans. Most Americans like me are looking for an excuse to follow a team in all of those foreign leagues. I bet that if you were to ask who Americans are fans in La Liga, you would hear Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Villarreal. Even after living in both cities Madrid and Barcelona for a bit I have trouble saying that I’m a fan of any one team.

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  3. Admittedly, I started following Fulham because of Brian McBride, long one of my favorite players. That Fulham later featured four Americans in their squad regularly didn’t hurt.

    But what has kept me a Fulham fan is the way this club is evolving. I think Hodgson’s acquisitions since January have been quality. The team this year is improved over last year’s squad and they are playing a more attractive brand of football than they did last year under Sanchez and even under Hodgson. Admittedly the last half of the season was all about survival, so it was ugly.

    That is not to say I want to sacrifice league/cup success on the altar of beautiful football, but in reality I think that Fulham is playing much better football and less desperate play. I see Hodgson’s plan to play well, get wins at home, nick a few points here and there on the road and get to 14th or 15th in the table and then build going forward.

    Fulham can still be an “American” team if you like the classic American story of the underdog finding success by sheer determination and will.

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  4. I didn’t really follow Fulham, but do try to keep up with Americans playing externally. But seriously I agree with one of the post that Clint has really drop his game from his time in NE. Even with the US MNT he seems to just get by and doesn’t seem to have that agressive demeanor that he had in the past.

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  5. How can you be a fan of a team and then change allegiances? At 28, I’ve been a Bears & Brewers fan for 23 years, FFC for 20 & Fire fan for 11. True Fulham fans are the ones that stuck by the team in 1996 when they lost to Torquay and just about disbanded.

    George H put it the best – your club chooses you. You can support players on other teams but that doesn’t mean you support that club. You have one club only in a league – period.

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  6. Can you add a button to that poll: “Never was a Fulham Fan”?

    I supported their escape last season, mainly because of the American contingent, but I’ve never followed Fulham.

    It would be cool if you did another survey on SBI readers’ EPL teams. My favorite English team isn’t even in the Prem–I follow Leeds. But I love to watch Villa, Arsenal, and MUFC…

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  7. I became a Fulham supporter because of Brian McBride and because its a wonderful place to watch a game. Plus, I don’t see much point in rooting for Arsenal or Chelsea.

    Its a little different watching this year’s team, but with the exception of Clint, I’m not disappointed at all. EJ is a joke, Brian and Keller did what was best for them. I’ll continue on with Fulham and whenever I go to London I’ll make it to the Cottage.

    I don’t understand rooting for a team only because Americans are on it. I get, from experience, how you are introduced to a team from following Americans. But to do away with Fulham because only Dempsey remains? That’s just jingoistic nonsense.

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  8. Yes, I too became a Fulham fan because of the wealth of American players, especially McBride and Dempsey. But after following the end of the 06/07 season, and all through the 07/08 season, I’ve grown to support Fulham as my second club in the EPL. Americans or no Americans, I’ll keep supporting them.

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  9. I cheer for them because of their cases full of trophies, their beautiful style of play, their world class players and their never ending bank account to sign any player in the world they want.

    Oops, thought this was the why Americans love the Big 4 thread.

    As for Fulham, I will continue to continue to cheer for my favorite team outside of North America, regardless of American participation.

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  10. Paul,

    Hodgson was hired right before the January transfer window. Johnson was brought in during the January transfer window. He was a Hodgson signing and Hodgson actually played him a lot the first few games before realizing he’d been bamboozled!

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  11. Was a Newcastle fan before. Still a Newcastle fan now. I liked seeing the Americans do well, but without any Americans there, I’ve got little incentive to watch Fulham anymore.

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  12. Liked Fulham before the Americans got there and will continue to support the club even after all of them are gone. Have done the trip to the Cottage and watch them religious on FSC & Setanta just about every week.

    Most supporters realize that the old adage that “you don’t choose your club, it chooses you” holds very true.

    I will pull for certain clubs if they have an American on their roster, but I would never consider myself a supporter. That carries a different level of committment.

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  13. i will watch the EPL or any foreign league only when an American is playing but i wouldn’t consider myself a fan, we have our own league and we need to support it in order for it to stay around. most Americans pick a random EPL team to support even though they have no personal connection to it. that is how you support a team, you have a personal connection to it. not just because your family came from there and 4 other countries some 100 yrs ago

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  14. to be honest I wanted Fulham to get relegated because then it seems more likely that the US players come back and play in the MLS.

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  15. Red Bulls are my team. Fulham are my EPL favs, but aren’t really my team. My company’s London office is blocks away from the Cottage, so that was reason #1. Not a bandwagon fan, so I won’t be changing to another team based on if Beckham’s playing or not, unlike the majority of the “herbal life 23” crowd posting here!

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  16. I think the truth is that most Americans who follow Fulham aren’t supporters. They “follow” multiple teams to keep tabs on our national team players. For me, I read the news for that. Yanks-Abroad gives a nice weekly synopsis. I probably won’t even follow Jozy’s progress as closely as I follow Fulham.

    I latched onto this club because of my American boys, but I am not of the mentality to relinquish my support for that reason. I love this team now, make annual trips over to watch them live, and am at the bar with the local contingent every week. I’m part of the family, whether they know it or not.

    Truthfully, the lack of Americans doesn’t phase me a bit, with the exception of McBride because he was an impact player. I don’t think Dempsey should go, he’s just got work to do again now that he isn’t a starter anymore.

    Oh yeah, and I’m glad Reading got relegated!!

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  17. Yea, I loved Fulham because of the Yanks. This team is completely different from the team last year. Sure, I hope Deuce does well, but I voted that they are dead to me.

    Come on mid-table premier league teams, everyone over here needs a squad with at least two Yanks in the lineup. Tim Howard needs a friend! Friedel and Guzan need a field player to haze!

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  18. I will still root for Fulham because they signed Zoltan Gera.

    I will still root for Fulham with Dempsey and Gera on the side. Zoli is a great talent and will help the club with his intelligent play in the midfield. When he starts hitting his stride, he is a pleasure to watch. (Yes, my biased Hungarian view has something to do with it).

    Hodgsen did not bring Johnson in. He was hired when Johnson’s transfer was complete.

    Dempsey is in trouble. I love Clint, but his game is gotten worse, since moving to the UK. I don’t think he has a big head. I think he is actually struggling with the speed and physicality of the EPL. He would have been better off going to Holland or Spain first. The kick and run league is not suited to his game.

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  19. Dempsey has seemingly diminished in impact only because Fulham won’t play him in a regular spot. He’s at his best as a removed forward or attacking mid, but Fulham used to play him as a lone striker sometimes (with McBride hurt at the time, that didn’t say much for their other forwards). If not there, usually out on the wing.

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  20. Walker:

    For a poor league like MLS you seem to watch it alot to make such an ‘in depth’ and no doubt ‘objective’ observation…

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  21. I’m still rooting for the team but it is definitely not the same. Clint looks like a shell of himself and for the 10 minutes that he does get to play he presses to make things happen and they don’t come off. It so hard to come in for only 10 to 15 minutes and influence the game.

    Roy in love with Seol? Not so fast.

    Apparently Seol was on Roy’s transfer list way back at the beginning of the transfer window. LG the new Korean sponsor had a big problem with the team getting rid of their only Korean player. Now he is starting, and aside from the free header I just don’t see how he or for that matter Gera are better.

    Gera is Roy’s signing and he obviously would want to give him a good look before he pulls the plug and starts someone else over him. Gera looked good in preseason but has not looked that impressive in the first two games. He and Dempsey are very similar players.

    It’s kind of ironic that all the yanks abroad fans were so concerned with Fulham and five americans getting relegated. Look at the team today…only one american remains and the rest have either moved on or loaned out. It’s pretty obvious that Roy does not rate Amreican players.

    If Dempsey goes so do I.

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  22. Dempsey has really diminished in quality the last 2 years or so. I’m not sure if it’s got anything to do with playing for Fulham or not. He’s totally lost his flare, and “disappears” up front for the MNT nowadays. I’d like to see him move on somewhere else.

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  23. I followed Fulham but I found it hard to be a fan. I read their message board regularly to see how the US players were doing but I quickly got disgusted by how anti-American a large percentage of their fanbase is. I hope Clint does well (especially as a Revs fan) but I have no interest in being a Fulham fan.

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  24. Ives- “Is this a coincidence or is it the backlash from having two teams with multiple Americans (Reading and Derby) get relegated while a third barely avoided the drop”

    ive heard this stated many times on the myspace groups… while it may make sense to non-watchers, its horribly incorrect to blame the Yanks (solely) for their respected teams faults… id watch the recap shows on fsc all last season, and this topic came up many times… all i kept hearing from the EPL experts (who were all english cept the host) was that it wasnt the americans fault but rather the sub par talent around them… not saying we were the brightest part of the team, but it wasnt solely on our shoulders…

    Boca had a fallout with Fulham

    Keller signed with local MLS club to be in 09…

    BMB came home to finish in chicago

    Dempsey stayed (kept)

    EJ is the only one traded off (loaned in this case)…

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  25. JL – While yes Fulham do not always play “sexy football”, they do not play “garbage ball”. Outside of the 6 month abortion that was “Longball” Sanchez, this team has quality. Did you watch the Arsenal match? They played the Gooners off the park for the better part of that match. Bullard and Murphy bossed the midfield. Did they play 8-9 in their own half? Of course sometimes you must. Besides don’t most teams defend with everyone except your center forwards or strikers? For the final 15-20 minutes The Cottagers defended with 10 men behind the ball against Arsenal and I applauded them for that. I’ve watched and listen to this team piss away 3 points far too much because of slack defending. So if they must hunker down and defend with everyone behind the ball so be it. But they by no means play “garbage ball”. In the future perhaps you should stick to watching only teams that play “sexy football” and avoid teams that can play balanced, attractive and grinding, football.

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  26. is it coincidence that fulham looked as good as they did w/ the americans gone? probably not. dempsey looked pretty crappy in his time saturday anyway…including trying to dribble past 2 dudes on a break when he easily couldve passed it to an open teammate. the guy is obviously talented but also obviously dumb and selfish. he’s not exactly what i thought he was coming out of the world cup where he was such a great injection of energy mixed w/ awesomeness. i just dont see it anymore it seems to have gone to his head.

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  27. @EG: the quality of MLS is poor. Like watching AA instead of MLB. plain and simple. it’s not about wannabes. it’s about quality and games being decided on skillful players making plays. most of the goals in MLS are from poor mistakes and poor coaching and poor refereeing.

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  28. The culture of the club actually changed when Chris Coleman left. He was the manager who saw bargains in bringing American players over and thought McBride was a steal for Fulham. Bocanegra also seemed to have his best success under Coleman as well. Sanchez tried to turn Fulham into the Northern Ireland national team with all his buys and though Hodgson brought Keller and Johnson in, you can tell that his approach to the game doesn’t seem to have been suited to Johnson, Bocanegra or even Dempsey who is now struggling for playing time. I still like watching Fulham because of Jimmy Bullard (the ugly David Beckham)> His passes and set pieces can wreak havoc on the opposition. His comeback from injury was even more critical than McBride’s return in saving Fulham from relegation.

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  29. I was a Fulham sympathizer because of the Americans at the club. I’m a West Ham fan. If Fulham had gone down last year, I wouldn’t have shred a tear.

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  30. Screw the EPL and the phoney wannabe Euro fans living here in America. We have a league in the USA and I’ll support my local club. I’ll root for the Yanks abroad when they’re on the US National Team.

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  31. I hope Clint leaves Fulham soon. He’s really regressed a lot since he went there. Not only does he not deserve to start for Fulham, but he doesn’t deserve to start for the MNT either. Time for him to find a side where he will actually improve his play.

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  32. JL — have to somewhat disagree with you…did you watch the match on Saturday? Fulham may have been given to garbage soccer in the past, but they dominated possession for long stretches against Arsnenal, especially in the middle third. They even got Seol into a few dangerous spots and gave Zamora a few good chances at goal in the run of play, Sure, Arsenal blew a couple chances, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone say that Fulham won despite its play. They deserved the 3 points.

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  33. my brother wrote a bit about dempsey in the saturday game,

    yankedaround.wordpress.com

    and i think his blog could actually be pretty good, its mostly about the USMNT.

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  34. I became a Fulham fan because of the American players, but now I’m hooked. My allegiance didn’t change just because most of the Americans left. I’m now a Fulham fan for life, regardless of the nationality of their players.

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  35. Mig, Hodgson actually spent very little time managing in Great Britain. He’s a widely admired tactician (he’s on the UEFA Technical Committee with other tactics luminaries) who’s continental in his approach through and through. (No British manager talks as much about shape or would have his team pass rather than boot its way out of relegation zone.) While Clint may no longer be a regular starter, I think Roy admires his grit and tactical acumen.

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  36. Fulham is tough to watch. They play pretty garbage ball, and the spend most of the match defending with 8 or 9 in their own half. It was nice to see so many Americans in the EPL, but to be honest, I am glad most have left teams like Fulham where they aren’t being taught better tactics. Thats clearly where the US is lacking in international play, so hopefully having the top players playing at various places with good coaches, not the Laurie Sanchez’ of the world, the players will become better and as a result the national team. Plus lets be honest, Eddie Johnson has no business being in the EPL or any top flight for that matter.

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  37. Hit the nail on the head with this one. For last season’s finale, a buddy of mine tried to go to a local “British” pub to watch the game only to find out for Mother’s Day the bar didn’t open until 11 a.m. So for the first half we sat in the car and listened to the game on Sirius/XM and waited for the bar to open so we could watch the second half.

    Now, I watched the Fulham-Arsenal game Saturday and got excited a few times for the Cottagers. But it’s definitely not the same.

    However, I won’t quit them yet. Something has to be said for a team giving American players the chance to play in the EPL in the first place. When others around the world stick their nose up at American soccer, I can support a team that has shown an admiration for our style of player and players’ character.

    So for that reason alone, I’ll remain a Fulham fan. Though it would be nice if Clint would start over Seol.

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  38. Fulham are my second EPL team and I think they will continue to be for a while. It’s inevitable that there would be change there for the American players. McBride and Keller are old and moving on. Bocanegra was out of contract and EJ is not ready for primetime.

    McBride was a great player to follow because he was a key player and an iconic figure for Fulham. Other than goalies the US doesn’t have too many players that are similarly identified with a top level team. I think Dempsey will do fine at Fulham once things settle down there this season.

    Even die-hard Fulham fans must wonder who all the new players are (they brought in 11) new ones this summer I think). Jimmy Bullard might be the longest serving player in the team.

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  39. Like I said last post – I find myself loving the team now. I was watching that Arsenal game like it was all Americans on the field – thats how much I cared. From here on out, I am destined to suffer with Fulham, much like i have for years with Metro, the NY Islanders, the NY Jets and the Yankees (I became a fan when they stunk in the Donnie Baseball years)

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  40. It’s weird for me. I followed them and hoped they stayed in the Prem because of the US players. Dempsey is still there but won’t get a lot of playing time under Hodgson who is a bit of an old-school Brit gaffer and will favor Great Britain players.

    But we can still hope that Dempsey regains some form and playing time.

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