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U.S. Men Defeat Venezuela, 2-0, in Seattle

SEATTLE, Wash. (Saturday, March 29, 2003) - The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Venezuela on Saturday afternoon 2-0 behind second-half goals from forward Jovan Kirovski and Landon Donovan in front of 17,819 fans at Seattle Seahawks Stadium in the picturesque Pacific Northwest.  After an even first half, the U.S. took control in the second 45 minutes, outshooting Venezuela 15-7.

“We started off well in the second half,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena.  “Clearly Earnie (Stewart) had a good influence on the game for our team in the second half, and Landon (Donovan) as well when he came in.  Overall, I was very pleased with our defensive effort from a young group of players, and I thought (John) O’Brien and (Pablo) Mastroeni played well in the center of the midfield.”

The U.S. starting line-up featured the 2003 debut of four 2002 World Cup veterans, including goalkeeper Kasey Keller, defender Eddie Pope, midfielder John O’Brien and forward Brian McBride. In addition to those four, World Cup veterans Frankie Hejduk and Earnie Stewart also made their 2003 debuts alongside Kirovski, who was playing with the U.S. for the first time since March 27, 2002, in a 4-2 loss in Germany.

It was Kirovski who broke the match open in the 52nd minute after an uneventful first half, finishing a flurry of shots in front of the goal to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.  The series was set-up after Venezuelan Luis Vallenilla received a yellow card after a foul on the left flank to DaMarcus Beasley.  U.S. Under-20 MNT star Bobby Convey took the restart and found Brian McBride alone in the area. McBride cranked a first-time volley off the post, followed by a Carlos Bocanegra header off the crossbar that fell to the feet of Kirovski, who sent a rocket off the hands of a helpless Gilberto Angelucci.

Second-half substitute Landon Donovan sent the Seattle crowd into a frenzy with a 50-yard dribbling run that ended with him slotting an easy shot past Angelucci in the 76th minute. The goal was the eighth of the 21-year-old’s young international career and was set-up by John O’Brien in the midfield. Donovan could have had a second goal, but his first-time chip into an unguarded net was swatted away illegally by Angelucci from outside the area. Angelucci received a red-card for the 86th minute offense, and was replaced in the nets for the final four minutes by defender Jorge Rojas.

Venezuela’s only good scoring chance came in the 29th minute when forward Daniel Noriega hit a one-time shot from 13 yards that was targeted for the lower-right corner of the goal, but U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller reacted well to get low and snare the powerful, close range shot.  The save helped Keller register his 29th career shutout and improved his unbeaten domestic streak to an impressive 18 games (in which he is 14-0-4).

After the most successful year in U.S. Soccer history in 2002, the U.S. MNT has opened 2003 with a 3-1-0 record, with all three wins coming by way of shutouts. Next up for the U.S. is a highly-anticipated World Cup rematch against Mexico on May 8 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. 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 in July 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.

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

Match-up: United States Men's National Team vs. Venezuela
Date: Saturday, March 29, 2003
Competition:  International Friendly
Venue:  Seattle Seahawks Stadium (Seattle, Wash.)
Kickoff:  1 p.m. PT
Attendance:  17,819
Weather:  60 degrees; scattered clouds, mild

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

USA – Jovan Kirovski (Carlos Bocanegra), 52.
USA – Landon Donovan (John O’Brien), 76.

USA — 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 15-Bobby Convey, 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 23-Eddie Pope (3-Nick Garcia, 85), 6-Steve Cherundolo (2-Frankie Hejduk, 66); 25-Pablo Mastroeni, 5-John O’Brien, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 17-Chris Klein (8-Earnie Stewart, 46); 20-Brian McBride (11-Edson Buddle, 80), 9-Jovan Kirovski (10-Landon Donovan, 60).
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 21-Kyle Martino.

VEN — 1-Gilberto Angelucci; 2 -Luis Vallenilla (4-Wilfredo Alvarado, 81), 3-Jose Manuel Rey, 13-Leonel Vielma, 17-Jorge Rojas; 8-Luis Vera (capt.; 5-Javier Villafraz, 46), 14-Leopoldo Jimenez, 10-Gabriel Urdaneta (15-Giovanni Perez, 67), 11-Ricardo Paez; 7-Daniel Noriega (18-Christian Casseres, 67), 9-Juan Garcia (16-Wilfredo Moreno, 46).
Subs not used: 12-Manuel Sanhouse, 6-Alejandro Cichero.
Note: Rojas played the final four minutes in goal for Venezuela.

Stats Summary:   USA     VEN
   Shots                      20     10
   Saves                        3      2
   Corner Kicks              7      4
   Fouls                      18     15
   Offside                     2       5

Misconduct Summary:
VEN – Luis Vallenilla (caution)  52nd minute.
USA – Steve Cherundolo (caution) 59.
VEN – Gilberto Angelucci (ejection) 86.

Referee: Mike Seifert (CAN)
Senior Assistant Referee: Hector Vergara (CAN)
Junior Assistant Referee: Martin Reid (CAN)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Valenzuela (USA)

Chevrolet Man of the Match: Earnie Stewart