HOUSTON, Texas (Thursday, May 8, 2003) – The U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico battled to an intense 0-0 draw in front of a passionate Texas crowd of 69,582 fans at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The match was the first between the two nations since their historic 2002 World Cup encounter, won by the U.S. 2-0 last June. The crowd was the 11th largest in U.S. Men’s National Team history, and the third largest crowd ever for an international exhibition for the United States.
The shutout for the U.S. defense marked the sixth clean sheet for the United States in their last seven matches against Mexico. The U.S. also extended their impressive home shutout streak over Mexico to 483 minutes, stretching across six games, all the way back to 1999.
“I thought that the Mexican team played very well tonight and in the first half we were very poor,” said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. “In the second half we made some adjustments and I think we played better. Our team’s match fitness is not where it needs to be for international play. That is a good result, considering the fact that (our players) are in the first month of their club season.”
In the first half, the U.S. had a dangerous counterattack in the 16th minute, in which Landon Donovan streaked down the right flank before sending a perfect pass across the length of the field to DaMarcus Beasley, who hit the USA’s first shot of the match with a first-time rocket from the top of the penalty area that just missed the frame of the goal. The near miss would be repeated by both teams throughout the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was stellar throughout the match. The MetroStars giant was up to the task in the 24th minute when Jesus Arellano finished off a nice give-and-go with a brilliant shot from 18 yards that was parried with two hands over the crossbar.
The U.S. had a solid chance in the 39th minute when Carlos Bocanegra hit Clint Mathis in the area with a perfect pass. Mathis passed up a chance at goal and played the ball back across the goal mouth to an unmarked Beasley just six yards from goal, but he lost control of the ball and was unable to get off a shot.
Just two minutes later, Mathis sprung Brian McBride in on goal and a brilliant side-step through the legs of Mexican defender Duilio Davino freed him for a quick shot on goal that just missed the left post. The late flurry from the U.S. brought the crowd into the game and a scuffle a few minutes later between Carlos Bocanegra and Hector Altamirano helped add to the atmosphere even more.
Despite the Texas humidity, play continued to be brisk in the second half. The USA’s best chance to pull ahead came on a cross from McBride. The ball skimmed off the thigh of Landon Donovan, who had made a run through the heart of the box, as he tried to finish the ball in the 67th minute.
Second-half substitute Bobby Convey helped thwart an excellent chance for Mexico in the 72nd minute, crashing into the area to tap a ball away from Arellano as he was about to shoot from close range on Howard from inside the goalkeeper area. Moments later, crafty Mexican forward Adolfo Bautista hit a bicycle on target from 12 yards that Howard easily snared.
The U.S. could have won the game in the 84th minute when Chris Klein won a header in the penalty area on a great ball from Cobi Jones in the left corner. Klein’s header sailed just inches over the bar as he beat Oswaldo Sanchez and a couple of Mexican defenders to the ball.
After the most successful year in U.S. Soccer history in 2002, the U.S. MNT has opened 2003 with a 3-1-1 record, with three of those results being shutouts. In June the U.S. will square off against Brazil, Cameroon and Turkey in the FIFA Confederations Cup from June 18-29 in France, and the USA will defend its regional championship in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup to be held from July 12-23 in Boston, Miami and Mexico City.
The U.S. next faces Wales on May 26 in San Jose, (7 p.m. PT, live on ESPN2).
- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report -
Match-up: United States Men's National Team vs. Mexico
Date: Thursday, May 8, 2003
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Reliant Stadium – Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 6:55 p.m. CT
Weather: 83 degrees, humid, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
Mexico 0 0 0
USA — 18-Tim Howard; 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 23-Eddie Pope, 6-Dan Califf; 25-Pablo Mastroeni (15-Bobby Convey, 66), 14-Chris Armas, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 2-Frankie Hejduk (17-Chris Klein, 75), 11-Clint Mathis (8-Earnie Stewart, 46); 20-Brian McBride (capt.; 13-Cobi Jones, 79), 10-Landon Donovan.
Subs not used: 24-Adin Brown, 3-Nick Garcia, 22-Richard Mulrooney.
MEX — 1-Oswaldo Sanchez; 18-Salvador Carmona (capt.), 5-Duilio Davino, 3-Omar Briseno; 6-Luis Perez (17-Israel Lopez, 66), 4-Hector Altamirano, 21-Jesus Arellano (19-Irving Rubirosa, 75), 14-Octavio Valdez (7-Carlos Morales,66), 15-Juan Pablo Rodriguez; 9-Adolfo Bautista (20-Fernando Arce, 82), 11-Omar Bravo (10-Alberto Medina, 59).
Subs not used: 12-Jose de Jesus Corona, 2-Ramon Morales, 16-Jose Castro, 22-Eduardo Rergis.
Stats Summary: USA MEX
Shots 4 7
Saves 5 1
Corner Kicks 2 7
Fouls 15 19
Offside 4 2
MEX – Duilio Davino (caution) 34th minute.
USA – Frankie Hejduk (caution) 41.
MEX – Omar Bravo (caution) 53.
Referee: Peter Prendergast (JAM)
Senior Assistant Referee: Michael Mitchell (JAM)
Junior Assistant Referee: Rohan Thobourne (JAM)
Fourth Official: Kevin Terry (USA)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: DaMarcus Beasley