SANTANDER, Spain (June 4, 2008) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fought fourth-ranked Spain toe-to-toe for more than an hour before an opportunistic goal by Xavi Hernandez in the 79th minute delivered Spain a 1-0 victory before 13,500 fans at the Estadio El Sardinero in Santander. Eddie Johnson had one goal called back and barely missed a second as Spain extended its unbeaten run to 17 matches and improved its record against the United States to 3-0-0 all-time.
Kicking off at 10 p.m. local time, the U.S. played much better than they did a week ago against England, creating a handful of chances during a fairly even affair with the fourth-ranked team in the world. Despite not finding the back of the net, forwards Freddy Adu and Johnson created chances around goal, and the U.S. defense did well to contain a dangerous Spanish attack. But as the game wore on, Spain began to pull away, hitting the woodwork twice before Xavi slalomed through four U.S. defenders and slipped the ball past Brad Guzan in the 79th minute.
The U.S. will have a short turnaround as they next face No. 1-ranked Argentina on June 8 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the team’s final match before beginning their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. The team will leave Spain just hours after tonight’s match and arrive into New Jersey on Thursday afternoon, providing them with two days of training to prepare for the South American giants. More than 63,000 tickets have been sold for the match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic and Galavision at 7:30 p.m. ET, and fans can also follow live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
"In certain areas, I think there was improvement (from the match against England)," said U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley. "In the first half, I certainly felt that we passed the ball better. In the second half, we had a very good chance early on but we lost a little bit of energy and Spain was able to capitalize." (Post-game audio)
"I thought we stopped moving to support each other when we had the ball. [Cesc] Fabregas and Xavi started moving very well to find little gaps in our midfield. At that point, Spain was able to take advantage. They're a very good passing team."
The U.S. began the match with a renewed spirit and determination, staying compact and organized while constantly shutting down the Spanish passing lanes. The duo of Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu kept Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabrergas in check, while centerbacks Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu limited the chances for the Liverpool’s dangerous frontman, Fernando Torres.
While Spain looked for cracks in the U.S. defense, it was Johnson who nearly opened the scoring in the 30th minute. After winning the ball in midfield, Adu appeared to have sprung Johnson over the top of the Spanish defense and in alone on goalkeeper Iker Casillas. While Johnson slotted the ball past the charging ‘keeper, the play was whistled dead with the assistant referree’s flag raised for offside.
Adu and Johnson connected again nine minutes later when Adu lofted a long ball over the Spain defense from the U.S. half, leading his forward partner. Johnson showed his speed and strength as he raced from the midfield stripe on the right flank to beat Puyol to the ball at the 18-yard box and then held the Spanish defender off to rip a shot towards the near post, but Casillas was there to make the save with his knees.
The U.S. made three changes to start the second half, once again inserting Brad Guzan for Tim Howard and Frankie Hejduk for Steve Cherundolo. DaMarcus Beasley made his second appearances in as many matches, replacing Adu and pushing Clint Dempsey into the center of the 4-2-3-1 formation. Spain also made a handful of changes in the second half, and almost immediately Ruben De La Red and then Xavi began to find space between the USA’s central midfield and backline to orchestrate attacks.
Nonetheless, it was Johnson who once again almost broke the deadlock in the 49th minute. Eddie Lewis received the ball wide and drove down the left flank, delivering a cross reminiscent of his pass to Landon Donovan to set up the USA’s second goal in the Round of 16 victory against Mexico in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Johnson had done well to position himself ahead of his mark, but his glancing header skimmed agonizingly wide of the right post.
As the half wore on, Spain began to show why they’ve been chosen as a favorite to win the 2008 European Championships, which kick off this weekend. They nearly grabbed the lead in the 62nd minute when a well taken free kick from Xavi clanged off the crossbar. Five minutes later, Guzan came up big against Marcos Senna, stifling a close-range shot from the midfielder who had been played through one v. one in the right side of the penalty area.
Spain managed to break through in the 79th minute on a crafty run by Xavi. Collecting the ball near the top of the area, he cleverly shaped up to pass to a rushing striker, but quickly turned towards goal and split Onyewu and Bocanegra. With Hejduk closing, Xavi held off the challenge and beat Guzan to the lower left corner.
Down a goal, the U.S. picked up the pace and continued to push for an equalizer until the final whistle. They created two chances in added time, starting with a header from Bradley off a cross from Hejduk that didn’t find the mark. Johnson made a last-minute foray into the box, unleashing a tight-angle shot that was well handled by Casillas.
After the Argentina match, the U.S. opens qualifying play for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in a Second Round series with Barbados that begins Sunday, June 15, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Kickoff for the first leg of the series is set for 2 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision. The second leg will be played on June 22 in Barbados, with details still to be finalized. Barbados will warm up with two friendlies on June 6 and June 9 away to Bermuda. Their hosts have also earned their way into the second round of qualifying where they will take on Trinidad & Tobago.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Spain
Date: June 4, 2008
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Estadio El Sardinero – Santander, Spain
Kickoff: 10 p.m. local time
Weather: 59 degrees, light rain
1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
ESP 0 1 1
ESP – 8-Xavi Hernandez (10-Cesc Fabregas) 79th minute.
USA: 1-Tim Howard (18-Brad Guzan, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo (5-Frankie Hejduk, 46), 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.), 12-Heath Pearce; 8-Clint Dempsey (25-Pablo Mastroeni, 86), 26-Maurice Edu, 4-Michael Bradley, 11-Eddie Lewis (16-Josh Wolff, 70); 9-Eddie Johnson, 19-Freddy Adu (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 46)
Subs not used:, 2-Dan Califf, 23-Jay DeMerit
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
ESP: 1-Iker Casillas (capt.); 11-Joan Capdevila (3-Fernando Navarro, 53), 4-Carlos Marchena, 5-Carlos Puyol, 15-Sergio Ramos; 12-Santi Cazorla, 8-Xavi Hernandez, 14-Xabi Alonso (19-Marcos Senna, 46), 21-David Silva (22-Ruben De La Red, 58); 9-Fernando Torres (17-Daniel Güiza, 46), 10-Cesc Fabregas (18-Álvaro Arbeloa, 84)
Subs not used: 23-Pepe Reina, 13-Andrés Palop; 2-Raúl Albiol, , 7-David Villa, 16-Sergio Garcia, , 20-Juanito
Head Coach: Luis Aragones
Stats Summary: USA / ESP
Shots 8 / 15
Saves 6 / 2
Corner Kicks 3 / 7
Fouls 15 / 8
Offside 2 / 1
USA – Michael Bradley (caution) 77th minute.
Referee: Sokol Jareci (ALB)
First Asst.: Egin Doda (ALB)
Second Asst.: Emilian Bicaku (ALB)
Fourth Official: Alfonso Burrull (ESP)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Oguchi Onyewu
For U.S. midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, the Mexico rivalry sparks some of the finest memories of his international career. The two-time World Cup veteran was on the field for the USA’s greatest triumph in the series history, the 2-0 win in the Round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The 30-year old has many Mexico battles under his belt, and adds his own little bit of latino spice to the mix as the only native Spanish speaker on the roster. Now just one week away from resuming the rivalry, Mastroeni sat down with ussoccer.com and recalled some of his favorite moments, talked about what makes a Mexico game so special, and discussed the role that leadership plays in matches like these, particularly his own…
ussoccer.com: How has training camp gone so far since the team got back to California?
Pablo Mastroeni: “Training camp has gone really well. It’s been very intense this second go around. We kind of picked up where we left off from the first training camp. We’ve tried to work more tactically this camp, where the first camp was more focused on fitness. However, they still find away to put a lot of fitness in and make sure we are getting that aspect as well. Overall, it’s been a great camp. The attitude is great, and we’re just chugging along.”
ussoccer.com: A good start to the year with the 3-1 win against Denmark. Looking back, what went right and what went wrong in that game?
PM: “We had a tough first half adjusting to the style of play of the Denmark team. They were more organized than we were in the first half. I think that was going to be a part of the whole test of this game. We didn’t have a lot of time to get to know each other, to work on fitness, or work on tactics. The bright spot was in the second half we turned it around. We were a little more connected, we were a little more focused, and were able to shut down their midfield and play better in the second half than the first.”
ussoccer.com: There’s a lot of young players in this camp that might be getting their first taste of what playing in a Mexico game is like. What do you say to them about playing Mexico?
PM: "Words really don’t bring into perspective a game of this magnitude. It’s something you have to experience on your own. They will get a first-hand taste of what it’s like to play Mexico on American soil. It’s not really a pro-American, and it’s something you have to grow accustomed to in this country unfortunately, but it’s something that I’ve kind of thrived in. Whether they are rooting for us or rooting for them, they are fanatics of the game, and it kind of brings out the best in most players. It’s going to be a great experience for everyone, especially for the guys who are getting their first taste of it.”
ussoccer.com: Do you remember what it was like the first time you played against Mexico and got that kind of reception?
PM: “The most vivid memories were in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. I remember pulling up to the stadium and it was obviously pro-Mexican. The horns were out, the chanting started an hour and a half before the game, and the moment we stepped out on the field we were getting whistled at and booed. It was a domestic team for the most part, and we just came together in a few days and put together a performance that was basically the guys finding a way to win and competing at the best level they could against a really good Mexican side. I think we really surprised ourselves that in that environment we could perform as well as we did and get the kind of result we did.”
ussoccer.com: While the U.S. plays a lot of friendlies, do you think you learn more playing a friendly against Mexico and getting that kind of performance and that kind of result?
PM: “I think so. Anytime you beat Mexico it feels as good as wining a qualifier. I think it’s because of what Mexico has done on the international stage, and the fact that we’re rivals and we’re neighbors. It’s about who is going to show up – Mexico or the U.S. I think we take great pride in the challenge as Americans to beat one of our biggest rivals any chance we get. We’ve done that quite a bit in the last few years, and hope to keep building on that.”
ussoccer.com: What does it feel like for you personally to play against Mexico?
PM: “Another one of my fondest memories is from the 2002 World Cup. I remember that game, putting in 90 minutes battling versus Cuauhtemoc Blanco and some other guys… Everyone had their own individual battles to win that day. After looking across the locker room and going out as a team to the bus and seeing Mexico with their heads down - it’s the kind of feeling that gets me motivated for this game: to know that we beat a team that was playing really well and was supposed to beat us that day, overcoming all the odds and putting together a great performance as a team. Seeing their faces on the bus motivates me to want to get that feeling back every time we play against Mexico.”
ussoccer.com: We talked about the fact that there could be a lot of younger players involved in this game for their first time. How important will be the leadership of the veterans when you step out on the field in Phoenix?
PM: “It’s critical in this game that the veterans step up and make sure they put a stamp on the game early. Hopefully by doing that, the younger guys will feel less pressure to have to perform, to have to do something right away or to get involved. The more touches they get early, the better it is for them. Like I said, it’s important the veterans do a good job of getting the ball, moving the ball, and being fluid and not hiding behind players, and getting in on tackles. We need to make sure the young guys follow in our footsteps and be real leaders out there."
ussoccer.com: Not only will there be new players for this game, but also a new coach. What do you tell Bob about going into a Mexico game?
PM: “As a player I never really contemplated what I could say to a coach. I think he’s coached in some pretty big games himself, and he realizes the magnitude of this rivalry. He’s done really well with us, getting our minds focused these last few weeks and realizing that it’s more than just one or two games, that it’s all a step in the building process. Come the Mexico game, we all have to be firing on all cylinders, including the coaching staff.”
ussoccer.com: You’re playing a game in Glendale, which is just outside of Phoenix where you grew up. It’s the first time in your professional career where you are essentially getting to play at home. How much are you looking forward to that?
PM: “I think it’s great. It’s been since my senior year in high school since the national team played in Arizona. I attended that game, and actually played before the national team game. I remember thinking to myself that it would be so awesome to play here in front of my family and friends. I’ve received phone calls from people I haven’t heard from in 10 or 12 years that want to come to the game. It’s spectacular. I have a lot of friends and family that don’t’ get the opportunity to travel abroad or travel to different states to watch qualifiers. So it’s a great opportunity for the family to come together and root on one of their own.”
ussoccer.com: How many ticket requests so far?
PM: “So far we’re at 65, and that’s just family. Its going to be interesting to see how many tickets I can get with all my coaches and teammates from club soccer, and then all my high school buddies that I grew up with.”
ussoccer.com: You have been through two World Cups and have 51 caps. At this point, you are one of the people expected to have a bigger leadership role in this four-year cycle. How do you see your leadership role?
PM: “I think the leadership role takes place on the field. As far as off the field stuff, I’m pretty reserved. I keep to myself for the most part. I, still at this point in my career, feel like I have to prove myself every day. Whether that’s being a leader or being realistic, that’s what I do. I still take practice very serious. These young guys are getting better every day, and I think the moment you get caught sleeping, you’re on the sidelines rooting for these guys. I think my job as a leader is to lead by example, and prove to not only the coaching staff but the players I play alongside that I can still play at this level and get better and help them along.”
ussoccer.com: It’s been very intense training so far, and you have been through these games before, but when do you start getting juiced a little bit for the Mexico game?
PM: “The moment we land into Phoenix, the juices will start turning a bit. For now, we’re still here in California and the preparation is still in the back of your mind. The moment the plane it hits the tarmac, the focus is there. Regardless if there is a Super Bowl going on, you realize in a few days you’re going to be taking on one of your greater opponents in a stadium that is second to none in this country.”
ussoccer.com: Clearly Mexico is taking this game very seriously, having brought in essentially their best team. It’s also the first match for new coach Hugo Sanchez. What do you expect the game to be like?
PM: “I think this game is going to be chippy from the start. It’s going to be a battle in the midfield. It’s going to be a battle all over the field. I think the team that wins more 50-50 tackles, the team that does little things right, the team that wills themselves to make the extra run, to get in on that extra tackle, and to make the great pass is the team that is going to win . It’s not as much who you have on the field, but what those guys are doing to help their team win. Regardless of who they bring in, we have a team that prides ourselves on great team spirit. You’re going to get 110% out of everyone that puts on the American jersey.”
ussoccer.com: The U.S. has had great success against Mexico at home over the last six years. Do you think there is now a psychological advantage for the U.S. team here?
PM: “I think so a little bit. Having said that, every game is different, posing different threats and different situations. But the mindset will always be there that we have done well in the last few games and we need to continue to do so. These last three weeks here have really tilted the bar a little bit in holding ourselves accountable for the little things that can make a difference on the big day.”
The U.S. Men's National Team kicked off their first training session on Thursday (Jan. 4) under head coach Bob Bradley at U.S. Soccer's National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Bradley and select U.S. players took time to answer questions from the media after training.
U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Bob Bradley
“It’s great to get started. I know for the players, after a little bit of time off, everybody’s excited and it’s the first camp of the year.”
On what it means to him to be out training as the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team:
“It’s an honor. Today there is a group of coaches that are taking the coaching license and you think about how many people in the country are involved in the game and how much they put into it. When you get the chance to lead your national team, you have a big responsibility. I’m very proud.”
On what he hopes to bring to the team in the “New Bradley Era”:
“We want to make sure from the beginning that we establish good ways of working, that we understand that in order to be successful you have to build every day. We believe in the “inner circle,” what happens every day, how we work, how we treat each other. That’s the start.”
On how he feels about facing Mexico and [Mexico head coach] Hugo Sanchez after the Denmark game:
“It’s a big game any time you play Mexico and, obviously, the rivalry has grown and the players know how much it means. The fact that it’s Hugo Sanchez’s first game means that a little bit more attention will be brought to it so we understand how important that game will be.”
On whether recently training with different Mexican players (as head coach of Chivas USA) prepares him for the challenge of facing Mexico:
“Yeah, it does. I think I have a pretty good understanding of the mentality. I know that they are just as serious about the game as all of our players. It’s a big rivalry. It’s an important game.”
On how many of the 11 uncapped players in camp will be getting looked at over the upcoming two games and the value in getting them experience before the busy summer schedule:
“Certainly the first game is going to be a good opportunity for some of these guys to get their first caps. We’ll see as we move through this camp and through that first game what it means in terms of Mexico. Obviously, the Mexico games falls on an international fixture date so it gives us a chance to bring some players from Europe. It’s a group of new players in the camp and a new cycle begins so it’s really important to start to integrate some of these guys and get them experience.”
On which players earned their way into camp based on their MLS season:
“I think that we tried to make sure that in our selections, everybody earned their way. One of the things that you always want to do is establish that it’s an honor to play on your National Team and it’s something that you earn. It’s never given. I think the guys that are here have shown that.”
On the challenge of replacing some of the recently retired players:
“It’s a transition time. We know that there are important guys that have retired. We have to start the cycle by working in some young players. We have to make sure that some of the players that are experienced and still part of the team take bigger roles. A lot of little things need to happen to start the ball rolling for the next four years.”
On assistant coach Peter Nowak:
“Peter and I know each other so well. As a player, he was a great leader. He has such fire and such determination, and he has a way to push the guys, push the right buttons. His years coaching, now, have taught him how to take his qualities as a player and use them as a coach. I think the fact that we have a bond, we know each other, we trust each other, means we work well off of each other. I’m really excited that we can do this together.”
On whether Nowak has a specific role:
“No. We’re partners in this whole thing; blood brothers, I say a lot.”
On whether he has talked to the players in camp who have played for clubs in Denmark:
“Not yet, but as we get through the camp that’s something that we’ll do. I think both Danny (Califf) and Heath (Pearce) are just excited, at this point, to be in this camp. They’re trying, like everybody else, to get the first session going, play well and move forward.”
U.S. Men’s National Team Midfielder Pablo Mastroeni
“I think the veteran status is a bit misleading in that we’re all in this together. Obviously, I’ve been here a few times, but I think the term ‘veteran’ brings a bit of complacency to your game and that’s something that will never happen to me. I think I come to the camp with the same mentality that these younger guys do and have to prove myself to the coach and the new administration.”
On whether it seems like a long time before the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010:
“It does. It really does seem like a long time and, as we all know, it goes by real fast. I think in today’s first session, Bob and Peter did a good job of setting the tone early on what they expect from us, what they demand from us, even if for some of us it’s been a month and a half since we’ve touched a ball in a team situation or setting. It was great. We know exactly what they expect from us and now it’s that work to strive to achieve that.”
On the talk of him going to play in Italy:
“It’s still up in the air. The window just opened on January 1 so they have to come to the league with an offer that’s legitimate, as far as the league’s concerned, and we’ll see from there. As far as my perspective and the club’s (Colorado Rapids’) perspective, I think everybody’s willing to help me get there if the offer comes through. So, it’s one day at a time, working hard here and hopefully doors open along the way.”
On what it would mean to play in Copa America:
“I think it would be great. I grew up watching that tournament with my father, being from Argentina. The teams that represent the Southern Hemisphere and Copa America, for that matter, have been some of the better teams in the world. To see where you stand against that competition in such a cup and, more importantly, in a place that isn’t like Manhattan Beach where you’re going to get quite a different atmosphere and most of that in opposition of our team. And with the things going on in the world, it would just be an exciting place and exciting time to venture out and see where you stand against some of the best South American teams in the world.”
U.S. Men’s National Team Defender Jonathan Bornstein
“(Bob Bradley’s) style and everything is great. I was more than happy to play for him at Chivas USA and I’m more than happy to be playing for him on the National Team now. He’s a great guy, someone I really look up to.”
On how he would describe what Bradley tries to accomplish technically:
“Technically, his training sessions are very intense. He makes sure that you’re playing hard the whole time, getting your feet under you, playing the right balls, the right style of soccer, very much one- and two-touch style, very nice soccer. Basically, he instills that work ethic in you, also, to just push everyone. It pays off for everyone in the end because if trainings are harder than the games then you should be doing pretty well. I think that’s the mentality that he instills in us.”
On Bradley’s sense of humor:
“I definitely see it. I know you don’t see it when he’s on the sidelines, but in the locker room he has a sense of humor that that’s very witty. You just have to sit down and talk to him to get that side out of him. It’s a very nice combination (with his intensity).”
Date of Birth
Aug 26, 1976