DUBLIN, Ireland (Wednesday, April 17, 2002) - Despite a first-half goal from U.S. defender Eddie Pope and stellar play from U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, the U.S. Men's National Team fell 2-1 to Ireland today in the rain and muck of Lansdowne Road in Dublin. The match was the last for the U.S. prior to head coach Bruce Arena's final 23-player World Cup roster announcement, which will take place this Monday (April 22) live on the 6 p.m. ET edition of ESPN's SportsCenter.
The winner for Ireland came in the 83rd minute, with defender Gary Doherty getting into the area and over the top of U.S. defender Tony Sanneh to head home a cross from veteran Steve Staunton. The Spurs defender made no mistake in slamming the ball past his English Premier League teammate Kasey Keller at the far post.
The U.S. almost tied the match in the 87th minute when Josh Wolff took an Eddie Lewis cross directly out of the air and fired a shot on goal that was tipped wide by goalkeeper Shay Given.
“I am disappointed that we didn't walk away with a point tonight, because we were in a position to manage the game in the last 10 minutes and didn't do a good job,” said Arena after the game. “So give Ireland credit for the second goal and the win."
The Irish got on the board just six minutes into the match when standout Fulham defender Steve Finnan broke free on the right wing to hit a perfect cross into the area that midfielder Mark Kinsella steered home with an over-the-shoulder volley that beat U.S. starter Brad Friedel to the far post.
Just three minutes later, white-hot U.S. striker Clint Mathis slyly created some space for himself and hit a rocket from 40 yards out that was destined for the back of the net before Given stretched to knock it over the crossbar for a corner kick.
The U.S. tied the match in the 34th minute through a patented Pope header off a corner kick sent in from the left side by John O'Brien. Pope reached the ball in the center of the area ahead of the Irish defense and bounced a header past Given. The goal was the first that Ireland has surrendered at home in a span of six games (dating back to August 2001).
Just three minutes prior to the U.S. goal, Friedel saved a goal by coming off his line to scoop up an excellent through ball from Robbie Keane that had found the feet of Damien Duff breaking into the penalty area. The save was an important one as the U.S. began gaining momentum in the midfield behind the inspired play from Reyna.
To begin the second half, both teams made wholesale changes, including six for Ireland and five for the U.S. (or exactly half the players on the field).
"Obviously the conditions were difficult tonight,” added Arena. “It was a bit sloppy, and the game did not have much flow to it. But give both teams credit, despite the conditions it was a decent game. Both teams fought hard.”
As did Pope, who earned Chevrolet Man of the Match honors for the U.S. for his goal and strong defensive presence.
The U.S. will reconvene in Cary, N.C. on May 1 for 10 days of training at the State Capital Soccer Park before embarking on the team’s three-game "Nike Road to Korea". Before playing their World Cup send-off match against Holland on May 19 (live on ABC at 2 p.m. ET), the U.S. will face Uruguay on May 12 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. (live on ABC at 2 p.m. ET), and then travel north to face Jamaica on May 16 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (live on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. ET; delay on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET). All three games will also be broadcast live on the Futbol de Primera radio network.
U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report
Participants: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ireland
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Lansdowne Road – Dublin, Ireland
Date: April 17, 2002 – 2:30 p.m. (ET) kick-off
Weather: 50 degrees; cool, rainy
Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F
USA 1 - 0 - 1
Ireland 1 - 1 - 2
IRE – Mark Kinsella (Steve Finnan), 7.
USA – Eddie Pope (John O’Brien), 34.
IRE – Gary Doherty (Steve Staunton), 83.
USA: 1-Brad Friedel (18-Kasey Keller, 46); 12-Jeff Agoos, 23-Eddie Pope, 3-Gregg Berhalter (4-Greg Vanney, 46), 22-Tony Sanneh; 14-Chris Armas, 5-John O’Brien (7-Eddie Lewis, 46), 8-Earnie Stewart (21-Landon Donovan, 46), 10-Claudio Reyna (2-Frankie Hejduk, 72); 20-Brian McBride (9-Joe-Max Moore, 46), 11-Clint Mathis (15-Josh Wolff, 64).
Subs not used: none.
IRE: 1-Shay Given; 2-Steve Finnan (14-Gary Kelly, 46), 3-Ian Harte (17-Steve Staunton, 46), 4-Andy O’Brien (12-Kenny Cunningham, 46), 5-Gary Breen (18-Gary Dougherty, 72); 6-Colin Healy, 7-Rory Delap, 8-Mark Kinsella (15-Matt Holland, 46), 11-Kevin Kilbane (20-Steven Reid, 46); 9-Damien Duff (13-David Connolly, 46), 10-Robbie Keane (19-Clinton Morrison, 83).
Subs not used: 16-Dean Kiely, 22-Nick Colgan.
Statistical Summary: USA - IRE
Shots: 5 - 6
Saves: 3 - 2
Corner Kicks: 5 - 4
Fouls: 13 - 10
Offside: 5 - 3
Referee: Philippe Leuba (SUI)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Eddie Pope