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U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team Ties Cuba, 1-1, in Olympic Qualifying Opener

TAMPA, Fla. (March 11, 2008) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team tied Cuba, 1-1, in its opening game of 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying behind a 14th minute goal from Freddy Adu. The U.S. is currently tied for second in Group A, and will take on Panama on Thursday, March 13 at 8 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

In the first game of the doubleheader, Honduras topped Panama, 1-0, behind a goal from Hendry Thomas in the final minute of play. Honduras currently sits atop Group A with three points, while the U.S. and Cuba are tied for second with one point each.

Adu scored after taking a short corner kick to Robbie Findley, who played the ball back to Adu as he was running into the box. Adu took a touch and then fired the ball towards the goalmouth. Screened by midfielder Charlie Davies, Cuban goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda didn’t see the ball until the final moment when Davies quickly jumped out of the way, giving the ‘keeper no chance to make the save.

"We had enough chances to win the game," said head coach Peter Nowak. "We have to capitalize on our chances we had in the first half, and also in the second half. As I said, it's the first game and we had a difficult game. We're going to be ready for the next game." (More Quotes)

Adu was dangerous early and often, giving the U.S. multiple opportunities in the first half. The 18-year-old received a ball inside the box in the second minute, turned and took a shot that banged off the far post and was then cleared away by the Cuban defense.

In the eighth minute, it was Adu who again took a ball from Dax McCarty, turned and took a long-range shot that forced a diving save from goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda. In the 31st, Adu took a free kick from 25 yards out forcing a fingertip save over the crossbar from Miranda.

Minutes before halftime, Cuba broke through the U.S. defense by building up its attack from the midfield. After several passing combinations, Leonel Duarte slotted the ball back to Yordany Alvarez, who sent a driven ball toward goal that was redirected into the goal by Roberto Linares. Linares celebrated near the corner flag a bit too excessively, earning a yellow card that would come back to hurt him late in the match.

In the second half, the U.S. attacked quickly, earning a free kick outside the corner of the box just three minutes into the second half. Adu put the in-swinger onto Patrick Ianni’s head, but the defender redirected the ball just wide.

The Americans’ most dangerous chance early on came when Maurice Edu touched a ball down for Adu at the top of the box, but Adu’s one-time shot went just wide of the far post.

The U.S. began to press late in the half, putting together a combination of scoring chances in the 70th minute behind hard work from McCarty, who started things off by hitting a long-range shot, forcing a diving save. Less than a minute later, the FC Dallas midfielder played a ball in for Chad Barrett, who crossed the ball in looking for Findley, but his shot was high.

It appeared that the U.S. had regained the lead late in the game, when Kamani Hill played a soft chip over the back line for Barrett, who beat Miranda, but the assistant referee’s flag was raised for offside.

“It’s the first game and we just need to bounce back,” said midfielder and team captain Maurice Edu. “There are still two more games in our group and now we’re looking to pick up three points in each one. We need to keep our heads up and just put our focus on Thursday’s game.”

Cuba went down to 10 men late in the game when Linares, the goalscorer, picked up his second yellow card of the game. The U.S., with renewed energy after gaining the man-advantage, picked up their offensive pressure in the final minutes and earned a free kick in the 90th minute. Adu took the left-footed shot that went just to the right of the near goalpost.

Group B kicks off on Wednesday, March 12 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with the first of three doubleheaders. Haiti and Guatemala will face off in the first match, with Mexico and Canada to follow. The eight-team CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying touranment, which includes national teams at the Under-23 age level, will send the two finalists to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.


Match-up: USA vs. Cuba
Competition: 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying
Venue: Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.
Date: March 11, 2008
Attendance: 4,259
Weather: Sunny, breezy – 78 degrees

Scoring Summary:
           1   2   F
USA   1   0   1
CUB   0   0   1

USA – Freddy Adu (Robbie Findley) 14th minute
CUB – Roberto Linares (Yordany Alvarez) 42.

USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 4-Patrick Ianni, 5-Nathan Sturgis, 13-Hunter Freeman, 15-Kamani Hill; 9-Charlie Davies (19-Chad Barrett, 61), 10-Dax McCarty, 6-Maurice Edu (capt.), 14-Robbie Findley (20-Eddie Gaven, 77); 11-Freddy Adu, 12-Jozy Altidore (16-Sacha Kljestan, 46)
Subs not used: 2-Marvell Wynne, 3-Michael Orozco, 7-Stuart Holden, 18-Dominic Cervi
Unavailable: 8-Sal Zizzo, 17-Jonathan Spector
Head Coach: Peter Nowak

CUB: 1-Jose Manuel Miranda; 2-Erlys Garcia Baro, 3-Yenier Bermudez (capt.), 5-Yendry Diaz, 15-Juan Carlos Martinez (16-Loanni Cartaya, 53); 7-Livan Vasconcelos (13-Eder Roldan, 72), 6-Alianni Urgelles, 11-Enrique Villarruta, 10-Yordany Alvarez (18-Yasnier Rosales, 74); 9-Roberto Linares, 19-Leonel Duarte
Subs not used: 4-Raciel Mazquia Pozo, 8-Francisco Carrazanna, 12-Arael Arguelles, 14-Armando Coroneaux
Head Coach: Raul Gonzalez

Statistical Summary:
19 / 6
Shots on Goal: 9 / 4
Saves: 3 / 8
Corner Kicks: 9 / 0
Fouls: 13 / 18
Offside: 4 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
CUB – Yendry Diaz (caution)                  18th minute
CUB – Roberto Linares (caution)              43.
USA – Charlie Davies (caution)              39.
USA – Kamani Hill (caution)                   40.
CUB – Roberto Linares (caution)              84.
CUB – Roberto Linares (ejection)             84.

Referee: Walter Lopez (GUA)
Asst. Referee: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Asst. Referee: Dion Inniss (GUY)
4th Official: Roberto Garcia (MEX)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Freddy Adu