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Ricardo Clark Scores in Stoppage Time as U.S. Men’s National Team Defeats Venezuela 1-0 in Opening Match of 2012


  • Ricardo Clark Nets Game-Winner Seven Minutes Into Stoppage Time 
  • U.S. Earns First Win Against South American Team Since 2007 
  • USA Travels to Panama City for Wednesday Match Against Panama at 8:30 p.m. ET Live on Galavision, ESPN3

GLENDALE, Ariz. (Jan. 21, 2012) – The U.S. Men’s National Team opened the year in dramatic fashion as Ricardo Clark tallied a game-winning goal seven minutes into second-half stoppage time for a 1-0 win against Venezuela at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

The U.S. kept Venezuelan goalkeeper Jose Morales on his toes all night and finally earned the well-deserved victory in the final moments when Clark emphatically headed home a Jermaine Jones corner kick from the right side. Jones, serving as the U.S. captain for the first time in his career, capped off his Budweiser Man of the Match performance with the assist. The game-winner was the second in Clark’s career, following the lone goal in the 1-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The U.S. improved to 3-0-1 all-time against Venezuela and earned its first win against a South American team since a 3-1 win against Ecuador on March 25, 2007.

Next up for the U.S. MNT is an international friendly against Panama on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET, and the match will be televised live on Galavision and ESPN3. Fans can also follow the game live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.

“Overall I thought we had a very good performance tonight,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who collected his second straight victory. “We created a ton of chances and really didn’t give them any good opportunities. We did an extreme amount of work these past two and a half weeks, and we were glad to see the players get the reward. We switched to a 4-4-2 to push the game towards the end. It was just about getting one goal sooner or later. We got it—a bit late, but not too late.”

Four players made their U.S. MNT debut on Saturday, with goalkeeper Bill Hamid, defender A.J. DeLaGarza and midfielder Graham Zusi earning their first cap in starting roles, and forward C.J. Sapong debuting 14 minutes into the second half.

Hamid, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy alum, becomes the ninth goalkeeper in U.S. history to collect a shutout in his first game. The Annandale, Va., native was only forced into action once in his first match, as the U.S. defense held Venezuela to just a single shot on goal.

DeLaGarza and Zusi won two national championships together at the University of Maryland in 2005 and 2008. DeLaGarza started at right back, and Zusi was a key midfield presence during both the run of play and set pieces.

Two of the USA’s other big scoring opportunities came on either side of halftime. In the 23rd minute, Zusi took a free kick and found Brek Shea in front of his defender. Shea sent a solid header toward goal, but Morales made a clutch save with his left glove. In the 76th minute, second half sub Chris Wondolowski had a header that Morales cleared to his left to maintain the scoreless draw.

The U.S. was the offensive instigator for much of the first half, and the scoring chances started to present themselves within the first 20 minutes. On 19 minutes, Teal Bunbury had a strike that went just over the crossbar. Bunbury’s opportunity came shortly after captain Jermaine Jones had intercepted the ball from Venezuela. Then in the 20th minute, Shea pushed a shot just wide right as he found space behind Venezuela’s defense. Benny Feilhaber started the sequence by splitting a pair of Venezuelan defenders to put Shea in on goal. Feilhaber made his first U.S. MNT appearance in more than a year, last taking the pitch on Oct. 10, 2010, against Colombia.

In the second half, the U.S. nearly struck as Jones received the ball inside the penalty box in the 48th minute, but the high-percentage opportunity was pushed wide left of the goal.

U.S. midfielder and Phoenix native Brad Evans made an appearance in front of his hometown crowd, earning his fourth cap as a second-half substitution for Bunbury.

From Venezuela’s perspective, the team only managed one shot on frame during the night, and most of its chances were taken from distance. Angel Flores (15th minute) and Francisco Flores (39th minute) both missed with shots from outside the box.

The Venezuelans continued to muster only modest opportunities in the second half. Miguel Mea Vitali had a 70th-minute attempt off of a free kick that went wide right, and Emilio Renteria had an opportunity on top of the box where he whiffed completely.

Following Wednesday’s match against Panama, the National Team looks forward to a Feb. 29 match against four-time World Cup champion Italy at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. local (2:30 p.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match: USA vs. Venezuela
Date: Jan. 21, 2012
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. MT
Attendance: 22,403
Weather: indoors

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

USA – Ricardo Clark (Jermaine Jones)     90+7 minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Bill Hamid; 2-A.J. DeLaGarza, 4-Michael Parkhurst, 5-Geoff Cameron, 3-Heath Pearce (13-Zach Loyd, 72); 6-Jeff Larentowicz (15-Ricardo Clark, 62), 8-Jermaine Jones (capt.); 7-Graham Zusi (18-C.J. Sapong, 74), 10-Benny Feilhaber (17-Chris Wondolowksi, 62), 11-Brek Shea; 9-Teal Bunbury (16-Brad Evans, 88)
Subs not used: 12-Nick Rimando, 14-Jeff Parke
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann


VEN: 1-Jose Morales; 2-Carlos Rivero, 3-Carlos Salazar, 4-Jose Manuel Velasquez, 21-Andres Rouga; 5-Miguel Mea Vitali (23-Emilio Renteria, 78); 10-Alejandro Guerra (14-Diego Guerrero, 89), 8-Francisco Flores, 6-Agnel Flores, 7-Edgar Perez Greco (17-Angel Chourio, 73); 15-Alejandro Moreno (9-Richard Blanco, 86)
Subs not used: 11- Jose Reyes, 12- Alan Liebeskind, 13-John Chancellor, 16-Ruben Arocha, 19-Rubert Quijada, 20-Javier Gonzalez, 24-Diomar Diaz, 25-Darwin Machis
Head coach: Cesar Farias


Stats Summary: USA / VEN
Shots: 15 / 6
Shots on Goal: 5 / 1
Saves: 1 / 4
Corner Kicks: 7 / 0
Fouls: 15 / 13
Offside: 0 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
VEN – Jose Velasquez (caution)    44th minute
VEN – Carlos Salazar (caution)     46
USA – Jermaine Jones (caution)   67
VEN – Francisco Flores (caution)  90+2
VEN – Emilio Renteria (caution)   90+3
VEN – Jose Velasquez (sent off)   90+8

Officials:
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Marcos Quintero (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Terry Vaughn (USA)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jermaine Jones

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