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U.S. Battles to 1-1 Draw with Korea in Daegu; Needs Draw vs. Poland on Friday to Advance to Second Round

DAEGU, Korea (Monday, June 10, 2002) - Just five days after posting one of the biggest upsets in U.S. Soccer history by shocking Portugal in a 3-2 win, the U.S. Men’s National Team battled valiantly to a 1-1 draw with co-host Korea Republic today in Daegu, Korea.

Playing in stifling heat and humidity and in front of a noisy crowd of over 60,000, the U.S. was under attack from the outset, but the stellar play of goalkeeper and Chevy Man of the Match Brad Friedel and an early strike from forward Clint Mathis helped the Americans a valuable point in an extremely difficult atmosphere.

With the draw, the U.S. now sits in second place with four points. Korea, who also holds a 1-0-1 record, leads the group based on a superior goal differential (+2, compared the +1 for the USA). The U.S. now only needs a draw against Poland on Friday (live on ESPN at 7:25 a.m. ET) to assure itself a spot in the second round with a total of five points. In other Group D action today, Poland (0-1-0) meets Portugal (0-1-0) in Jeonju in a match that will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 7:25 a.m. ET.

“It was a difficult game for us. Korea’s fitness is outstanding,” said Bruce Arena, who helped the U.S. improve their all-time World Cup record to 5-12-2. “But to be standing here with four points after our first two games is a good feeling.”

Buoyed by their opening 2-0 win over Poland on June 4, their first ever in World Cup history, and with a sea of supporters clad in their home red cheering them on, Korea imposed their style of possession soccer and relentless speed from the opening whistle.

Korea had its first good scoring opportunity as early as the fourth minute when striker Sun Hong Hwang played a ball from the right side to the far post to Seol Ki Hyeon, but his point-blank volley sailed high over the crossbar. Just five minutes later, Friedel made the first of many difficult saves when he reacted well to save a dipping 30-yard shot midfielder Kim Nam Il.

The U.S. needed the first 20 minutes of the match to start to even out possession and put together solid attacks of their own. The first dangerous American counter came in the 21st minute when midfielder Landon Donovan dribbled down the right flank and sent in a low cross that forward Brian McBride lunged for, but could not connect with as a defender matched him stride for stride in the center of the area. A minute later, a throw-in deep in Korea’s end produced a loose ball that landed at the feet of Donovan, but his shot was wide of the right post.

As in the Portugal match, the U.S. struck first, this time on a wonderful strike from forward Clint Mathis, who made his first World Cup appearance a memorable one by putting the U.S. ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute. Midfielder John O’Brien set up the score up with a run through the midfield before sending a perfect chip pass to Mathis at the top of the box. Mathis, who leads the U.S. in scoring in 2002 with seven goals and one assist in just eight starts, calmly brought the ball down with his right foot then sent a left-footed rocket inside the right post past goalkeeper Woon Jae Lee.

Korea had a golden opportunity to equalize with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half, earning a dubious penalty kick when defender Jeff Agoos was ruled to have brought down Hwang in the box as the two players jostled to get a head on a free kick from 25 yards out. Midfielder Eul Yong Lee stepped up to the spot, but Friedel dove to his right to save the low shot with his massive wingspan and defender Eddie Pope was able to pounce on the rebound before being fouled to end the play. The penalty save was the USA’s second in a World Cup, with Tony Meola saving a PK in a 5-1 loss to Czechoslovakia on June 10  in Florence, Italy.

“I felt that he was going that way the whole time. Why? I don’t know,” said Friedel, whose seven saves and stellar performance in goal almost single-handedly earned the U.S. three points. “If someone would’ve said you could have four points going into your third match, I think we would’ve taken it.”

The second half began as the first half ended, with Korea pushing continuously for the equalizer. Much like the Portugal match, the U.S. was forced to spend most of the period bunkering in their side of the field to fend off waves of offense and defend its lead. Pope and defender Tony Sanneh both stepped up to win several headers and pick apart dangerous Korean forays around the penalty area.

In the 47th minute, Friedel saved another sure goal, coming off his line and making a difficult reaction save with his right hand after forward Ki Hyeon Seol held off U.S. defender Frankie Hejduk on a bouncing ball in the box and had just the ‘keeper to beat from 10 yards out.

Korea finally broke through in the 78th minute, when second-half substitute Jung Hwan Ahn rose above Agoos to connect with a perfect Eul Yong Lee free kick and flick in backwards just inside the far post past a helpless Friedel.

Both teams pushed desperately for the game winner, but fatigue and poor finishing by the home team kept the final result at 1-1. Korea had the last serious chance, when Eul Yong Lee ran on to a clever back-heel pass on the left flank, dribbled to the end line to draw out Friedel and laid a pass off to Yong Soo Choi, but his shot on an open net was sent over the crossbar in the 89th minute.

After missing the first match with a strained quadricep, U.S. captain Claudio Reyna returned to the field, teaming with O'Brien to clog the Korean attack. In addition to Mathis, midfielder Eddie Lewis and forward Josh Wolff both made their World Cup debuts in today’s match, coming off the bench in the 75th and 83rd minutes, respectively, to provide fresh legs and help the U.S. put together a counter-attack in the game’s final minutes.

With the draw, CONCACAF teams are still undefeated in 2002 World Cup play with a 4-0-2 record, as Mexico earned a 2-1 comeback victory over Ecuador on Sunday to lead Group G with six points and Costa Rica earned a 1-1 draw with Turkey to give them four points in Group C. Both teams may still need a draw in their final match to advance to the second round, with the Tricolores meeting Italy and the Ticos facing group leader Brazil on Thursday.

Other notes: The U.S. is now 5-1-1 in all-time World Cup history when scoring first ... Korea is now 0-9-4 when conceding the opening goal … The four goals that the U.S. has scored in the tournament is the most scored since the 1950 World Cup in Brazil ... Earnie Stewart, who wore the captain’s armband for the U.S. in the 3-2 win over Portugal, did not appear due to a groin injury that he suffered in the first match.

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

Participants:  United States World Cup Team vs. Korea Republic
Competition:  2002 World Cup Korea/Japan – Opening Round (Group D - Match 30)
Venue: Daegu World Cup Stadium – Daegu, Korea
Date: June 10, 2002 – 3:30 p.m. (local) / 2:30 a.m. ET
Weather: 77 degrees; humid, overcast
Attendance: 60,778

Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F
United States 1 - 0 - 1
Korea Republic 0 - 1 - 1

USA – Clint Mathis (John O’Brien), 24.
KOR – Jung Hwan Ahn (Eul Yong Lee), 78.

USA: 1-Brad Friedel; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 12-Jeff Agoos, 23-Eddie Pope, 22-Tony Sanneh; 10-Claudio Reyna (capt.), 17-DaMarcus Beasley (7-Eddie Lewis, 75), 5-John O’Brien, 21-Landon Donovan; 11-Clint Mathis (15-Josh Wolff, 83), 20-Brian McBride. 
Subs Not Used: 3-Gregg Berhalter, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 6-David Regis, 8-Earnie Stewart, 9-Joe-Max Moore, 13-Cobi Jones, 14-Steve Cherundolo, 16-Carlos Llamosa, 18-Kasey Keller, 19-Tony Meola.

KOR: 1-Woon Jae Lee; 4-Jin Cheul Choi, 20-Myung Bo Hong (capt.), 7-Tae Young Kim; 22-Chong Gug Song, 5-Nam Kim Il, 6-Sang Chul Yoo (11-Yong Soo Choi, 70), 13-Eul Yong Lee; 9-Ki Hyeon Seol, 18-Sun Hong Hwang (19-Jung Hwan Ahn, 56), 21-Ji Sung Park (14-Chun Soo Lee, 38).
Subs Not Used: 2-Young Min Hyun, 3-Sung Yong Choi, 8-Tae Uk Choi, 10-Young Pyo Lee,12-Byung Ji Kim, 15-Min Sung Lee, 16-Doo Ri Cha, 17-Jong Hwan Yoon, 23-Eun Sung Choi.

Statistical Summary: USA - KOR
Shots: 6 - 19
Saves: 7 - 2
Corner Kicks: 0 - 7
Fouls: 18 - 17
Offside: 3 - 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Frankie Hejduk (caution), 30.
USA – Jeff Agoos (caution), 39.
KOR – Myung Bo Hong (caution), 80.

Referee: Urs Meier (SUI)
Assistant Referee #1: Egon Bereuter (AUT)
Assistant Referee #2: Ali Tomusange (UGA)
Fourth Official: Gamal Ghandour (EGY)

Chevrolet Man of Match: Brad Friedel