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U.S. Men's National Team Falls to Germany, 4-1, in Dortmund


• Hannover 96 Defender Steve Cherundolo Tallies First International Goal in 33rd Appearance
• U.S. Record Now 4-1-1 in World Cup Year; Next Up is Jamaica on April 11 in Cary, N.C.
• Four Goals Are Most Surrendered Since 4-2 Defeat By Germany in March 2002

DORTMUND, Germany (March 22, 2006) – The U.S. Men’s National Team’s undefeated run to start 2006 came to a halt Wednesday night, as they fell to a superior German team, 4-1, at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park in the final road preparation match before the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

The loss was the first for the U.S. MNT in 2006, and drops the USA’s record to 4-1-1. The U.S. Men’s impressive start to the new year includes victories over fellow World Cup qualifiers Japan and Poland. The U.S. will next host Jamaica at a sold-out SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. on April 11 at 7 p.m. ET live on ESPN2. The U.S. will begin their final FIFA World Cup training camp on May 9 in Cary, N.C., before departing for the Send-Off Series matches in late May.

The three-goal defeat was the worst for the U.S. since a 3-0 defeat in Costa Rica on October 8, 2005 and the first time the U.S. surrendered four goals since a 4-2 loss to Germany in Rostock, Germany, on March 27, 2002, in a preparation match prior to the 2002 World Cup.

“Certainly, the better team won today,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. “I thought our first 45 minutes were pretty good, but it was just a huge mental mistake to start the second half with our kickoff to give the German team a restart and a goal. After 45 minutes of good concentration and smart football, we started the second half very poorly.

“In all honesty, in a game like tonight, we were pretty undermanned, obviously, not having our full compliment of players. The game served the purpose of evaluating players. I’d never come again to Germany to play the host country in their last tune-up before the World Cup with a second team, but this team is wearing USA. We got beat, and we deserved to get beat.”

One of the lone highlights for the U.S. was a bizarre 75-yard goal by defender Steve Cherundolo in the 85th minute. After a Germany corner kick, Keller played the ball wide right to the Hannover 96 defender who took a few touches forward before driving a long ball over the top toward an onrushing Eddie Johnson. Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn came out to challenge Johnson for the ball, but it bounced past the leaping Kahn and settled into the back of the net after the two players collided at the top of the area. It was Cherundolo’s first goal in 33 appearances for the U.S., and the assist for Keller is the first point on record for a goalkeeper since the U.S began keeping assists as an official stat in 1991.

The first half was an even affair, with two Michael Ballack headers going wide for Germany in the 13th and 20th minutes. For the U.S., an ambitious effort from Brian Ching was saved by Oliver Kahn in the 11th minute, and Cory Gibb’s drive in the 15th minute deflected off Josh Wolff and out of danger after some creative work by Bobby Convey had opened some space for the U.S.

Also in the first half, Wolff – who was playing attacking midfield in Arena’s 4-4-2 formation – left the game in the 17th minute in favor of Chris Klein. Wolff suffered a mild concussion and needed five stitches in his lip after running into the elbow of Christoph Metzelder in the third minute.

The German crowd of 64,500 was quieted for most of the first half, but that all changed less than one minute into the second half when Germany got on the board after a mistake by the U.S. Right off the kickoff, the U.S. played the ball back to the right side and quickly turned it over. After the turnover, Cherundolo took down Ballack with a hard tackle in traffic to set up a free kick on the left wing, about 25 yards from the end line. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who came on at the half, took a right-footed free kick into dangerous space. Kasey Keller held his line, anticipating a touch from Miroslav Klose at the near post that never came, and the ball bounced at the top of the six-yard box and into the far side of the net passed a recovering Keller.

The U.S. almost got one back in the 66th minute on a Johnson header, but Kahn was up to the task with a save similar to the one that denied Landon Donovan in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. earned a free kick in comparable location to where Schweinsteiger scored from 20 minutes earlier. Cherundolo hit an in-swinger that Johnson rose to head on goal, but Kahn reacted quickly with a diving, one-handed save on the low header.

The match settled back down until the 73rd minute when Germany scored their first of two goals in a little more than two minutes. The first came on a ball over the top as Taylor Twellman challenged Arne Friedrich in the back, who sent a high ball into the middle of the U.S. defense. Klose had position on Jimmy Conrad, and headed the ball outside to 67th-minute substitute Oliver Neuville. Neuville beat Gregg Berhalter to the ball on one bounce and hit a first-time volley that dipped inside the far corner.

In the 75th minute, with Germany pressuring, Johnson settled a throw in and rolled a pass back to Berhalter, who played a ball that Klose intercepted and touched to Neuville. Klose then charged toward goal as Neuville returned a first time back-heel to free Klose, who took a few calm touches before finishing overtop Keller from the right for his 19th goal in 19 international matches.

With the U.S. defense breaking down and the German attack creating more space, the host tacked on a fourth goal in the 79th minute. Klose found space on the right wing, and before Kerry Zavagnin could get over from midfield to close him down, he sent a pinpoint cross into the middle of the area to an unmarked Ballack, who headed home his 13th international goal.

Cory Gibbs made his first start and appearance for the U.S. since May 28, 2005 as part of the four-player U.S. back line. Keller made his 91st appearance for the U.S., passing Brian McBride and John Harkes for sole possession of 11th place on the all-time U.S. list.

The match did not fall on an international fixture date as set by FIFA prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, limiting the players available for selection by Arena. The governing body for soccer in Germany, the Deutscher Fussball Bund (DFB), had an agreement with all the clubs in Germany to release their players for the match in Dortmund, which allowed Germany to call on a nearly full-strength squad. At the same time, the U.S. called on Keller, Cherundolo, Berhalter and Benny Feilhaber, who are all based in Germany.

The three-game Send-Off Series, the last matches prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, will begin vs. Morocco at The Coliseum in Nashville, Tenn., on May 23, before continuing vs. Venezuela at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 26, presented by Budweiser, and concluding vs. Latvia at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on May 28.

Tickets are on sale now at ussoccer.com and all local Ticketmaster outlets. All three matches kicking off at 7 p.m. ET live on ESPN2 and ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Telemundo will be broadcasting all three matches on tape delay.

The USA was drawn into Group E for the 2006 FIFA World Cup along with the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana. The U.S. plays their opening match against the Czechs on June 12 in Gelsenkirchen before meeting Italy in Kaiserslautern on June 17 and then finishing off group play against Ghana on June 22 in Nuremberg [2006 FIFA World Cup TV Schedule]. The U.S. has chosen the northern port city of Hamburg as their base of operations throughout the tournament.

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

Match-up: USA vs. Germany
Date: March 22, Germany
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Signal Iduna Park – Dortmund, Germany
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. CET
Attendance: 64,500
Weather: 35 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary:
                   1     2     F

USA           0     1    1
Germany    0     4    4

GER – Bastian Schweinsteiger (unassisted) 46th minute
GER – Oliver Neuville (Miroslav Klose) 73.
GER – Klose (Neuville) 75.
GER – Michael Ballack (Klose) 79.
USA – Steve Cherundolo (Kasey Keller) 85.

Lineups:
USA (4-4-2): 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 3-Gregg Berhalter, 12-Cory Gibbs (19-Heath Pearce, 77’), 4-Jimmy Conrad, 6-Steve Cherundolo; 15-Bobby Convey, 25-Pablo Mastoreni (14-Ben Olsen, 74), 5-Kerry Zavagnin, 16-Josh Wolff (17-Chris Klein, 17’); 9-Eddie Johnson, 11-Brian Ching (20-Taylor Twellman, 60’)
Subs not used: 7-Benny Feilhaber, 24-Marcus Hahnemann, 23-Eddie Pope
Manager: Bruce Arena


GER (4-3-3): 1-Oliver Kahn (capt.); 3-Arne Friedrich (25-Patrick Owomoyela, 82’), 16-Philipp Lahm, 29-Per Mertesacker, 21-Christoph Metzelder; 17-Sebastian Kehl (15-Fabian Ernst, 82’), 13-Michael Ballack, 19-Bernd Schneider (18-Tim Borowski, 68’); 14-Gerald Asamoahl (30-Oliver Neuville, 67’), 11-Miroslav Klose, 20-Lukas Podolski (7-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 46’)
Subs not used: 9-Jens Lehmann, 24-Marcell Jansen, 28-Manuel Friedrich
Head Coach: Juergen Klinnsman

Stats Summary: USA/GER
Shots 9/16
Saves 4/5
Corner Kicks 4/3
Fouls 20/16
Offside 2/5

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Kerry Zavagnin (Caution) 28th Minute

Officials:
Referee: Peter Frojdfeldt (SWE)
1st Asst.: Kenneth Pettersson (SWE)
2nd Asst.: Ingemar Larsson (SWE)
Fourth Official: Martin Ingvarsson (SWE)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Pablo Mastroeni  

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