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U.S. Men Finish 2002 with 2-0 Win Over El Salvador

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 17, 2002) — The U.S. Men’s National Team concluded its historic 2002 season with a 2-0 shutout of El Salvador in the cold and steady rain today at RFK Stadium in front of 13,590 boisterous fans.  Ben Olsen celebrated his return to the national team with the game-winning goal in the 31st minute, and Sasha Victorine added his first tally for the senior national team.    With the victory, the United States elevated its final 2002 record to 12-6-2, boasting ten shutouts and impressive 10-1-1 record on home soil.  The USA improved its lifetime record to 9-1-4 against El Salvador, and now holds a 9-3-3 record at RFK Stadium.

“I thought we had a good performance today.  For the first time out for a number of guys I thought they did well under difficult conditions,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena.  “We played some good soccer at times and created some good chances. We had a good week of training.  It was a good to get to know a new group and get this process started all over again.”

The game got off to a blistering pace, with each side trying to settle early nerves and adjust to the slippery field conditions.  U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made the game’s first big save, shutting down a two-on-one breakaway in the 4th minute.  As the half progressed, the U.S. team started to develop a comfort level with and began to dictate terms.

The team’s persistent attacks down the flanks paid dividends in the 31st minute.  Chris Klein strode down the right flank and spotted Olsen streaking to center of the goal.  His perfectly place cross hit Olsen in stride, snapping a powerful header to the back post. Olsen, the Chevrolet Man of the Match, notched his fourth career international strike, and his first for the United States since March 12, 2000.

“I closed my eyes;” said Olsen.  The ball hit me in the head and it went back post.  Seriously, Chris Klein hit an outstanding ball.  It seemed like when we crossed the early balls we were dangerous.”

The U.S. continued to apply pressure as the half came to a close, with Clint Mathis nearly adding a second goal just before halftime.  A Wade Barrett cross found Mathis alone 15 yards from goal, and Mathis’ clever side-footed volley was turned aside by a diving Juan Gomez.

The United States made two substitutions at the break, goalkeeper Nick Rimando getting his first cap in replacement of Tim Howard, and Leo Cullen replacing Pablo Mastroeni, who left the match with a minor groin strain.  Once again, the USA were able to grab the better ball possession and continued to make forays into the Salvadoran defensive end.

The U.S. added an insurance goal in the 60th minute, as forward Clint Mathis displayed his trademark poise and ball control.  With his back to the goal and hounded by a Salvadoran defender, Mathis managed to create a window of space, turned and slipped a beautifully weighted ball behind a defender to an onrushing Sasha Victorine.  Victorine calmly slipped the ball through the legs of Gomez, recording a goal in only his second match for the USA.

The team is expected to regroup in early January 2003 at a site to be determined.

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

Match-up: USA vs. El Salvador
Date: November 17, 2002
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Attendance: 13,590
Weather: 43 degrees; cold, rainy

Scoring Summary:   1  -  2  =  F
USA   1  -  1  =  2
El Salvador   0  -  0  =  0

USA - Ben Olsen (Chris Klein) 31st minute.
USA - Sasha Victorine (Clint Mathis) 60.

USA — 18-Tim Howard (1-Nick Rimando, 46); 3-Wade Barrett, 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 23-Dan Califf, 12-Sasha Victorine; 25-Pablo Mastroeni (2-Leo Cullen, 46), 14-Ben Olsen (16-Kyle Martino, 76), 17-Chris Klein, 21-Landon Donovan; 11-Clint Mathis (Capt.), 20-Taylor Twellman (9-Jeff Cunningham, 84).
Subs not used: 6-Ryan Suarez, 13-Brian Dunseth, 22-Eddie Robinson

SLV — 1-Juan Gomez; 5-Victor Velasquez, 3-Marvin Gonzalez, 6-Ramiro Carballo, 19-Alfredo Pacheco (12-Jose Mejia, 76); 16-Mauricio Quintanilla (7-Carlos Menjivar, Jr., 46), 20-William Torres, 18-Gilberto Murgas, 14-Rudi Corrales; 9-Diego Mejia (11-Francisco Fuentes, 82), 17-Josue Galdamez (Capt.).
Subs not used: 25-Fidel Mondragon, 4-Julio Castro, 8-Selvin Gonzalez, 21-Roberto Vasquez

Stats Summary:   USA  -  SLV
Shots   15  -  11
Saves   6  -  3
Corner Kicks   1  -  2
Fouls   16  -  11
Offside   2  -  2

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Peter Prendergast (JAM)
Assistant Referee #1: Michael Mitchell (JAM)
Assistant Referee #2: Rohan Thorbourne (JAM)
Fourth Official: Michael Kennedy (USA)

Chevrolet Man of the Match: Ben Olsen