LYON, France (June 23, 2003) -- The U.S. Men's National Team earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Cameroon in their final match of the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup opener today at Gerland Stadium in Lyon, France. With the draw, the U.S. finishes the tournament 0-2-1 with one point and fourth place in an amazingly difficult Group B, which lived up to its expectations as the Group of Death.
"Tonight we started with a lot of young players, and they did a very good job," said Bruce Arena, who is now 5-3-2 on the year. "We improved over the three games we played here, which i think was good. It was very good to get a point against the group winner Cameroon."
Fielding a lineup that mixed and matched the starters from its first two matches, the U.S. began the game well, earning consistent possession and creating space down the left flank from the work of midfielder Eddie Lewis and Kyle Martino.
Lewis had the first good scoring chance for the U.S., collecting a ball from defender Steve Cherundolo in the box and firing a low shot that was saved by Cameroon 'keeper Eric Kwekeu and then had to be cleared by Cameroon captain Lucioen Mettomo in the 15th minute.
Lewis also figured in another scoring chance for the U.S. in the 25th minute after forward Jovan Kirovski saved a ball from crossing the endline on the right side and delivered it to Lewis at the near post. With Kwekeu on his back, the Preston North End midfielder touched it back for Clint Mathis to tee up, but the shot was saved off the goalline by defender Pierre Njanka.
After an even first half, the U.S. continued to attack, with Martino blasting a rocket from 25 yarsd out that Kwekeu did well to dive and save to his right. Kirovski got to the rebound but sent his shot over the crossbar in the 52nd minute.
Arena was forced to make his first sub of the second half in the 55th minute after Martino was fouled by Thimothee Atouba, who recieved a yellow card for the viscious tackle. Donovan quickly came in to take over playmaking duties for the second-year Columbus Crew midfielder, who left with a sprained left ankle. Mathis sent the resulting free kick wide left for one of the last good looks at goal for the U.S.
The young backline of Cory Gibbs, Carlos Bocanegra, Danny Califf and Steve Cherundolo, which featured an average age of 23.5, did well to control to forward Joseph-Desire Job and the rest of the potent Cameroon offense, holding them to just seven total shots and three shots on goal. Bocanegra earned Chevrolet Man of the Match honors for his performance.
Although he was forced to make just three saves on the day, Howard was excellent coming off his line to snare many of Cameroon's seven corner kicks and a couple of dangerous through balls. The shutout capped an impressive tournament for the young goalkeeper, who made a total of 14 saves and posted a 1.00 Goals Against Average at France 2003.
Midfielder Chris Armas wore the captain's armband as he appeared in his 50th game for the USA. Armas made his debut back on Nov. 6, 1998 versus Australia, which also happened to be the U.S. MNT head coaching debut of Bruce Arena.
All but four of the 23 players that the U.S. brought to France started one of the three matches. While forward Taylor Twellman came off the bench in each of the first two matches, he was not availavle for today's match due to an upper respiratory illness. Goalkeepers Joe Cannon and Marcus Hahnemann, and forward Jeff Cunningham did not make an appearance.
Fans can watch the match tonight via Same Day Delay broadcast on Galavision at 9 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. PT, following Brazil-Turkey at 7 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
The U.S. heads home tomorrow morning and will split up to their respective clubs before convening again in Columbus on July 2 to prepare for a match against Paraguay on Sunday, July 6 at Columbus Crew Stadium at 3 p.m. ET live on ESPN. The U.S. is then off to Boston, where they will kick off their confederation title defense in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup from July 12-27.
In Group A action yesterday, France continued their run through Group A with a 5-0 win over New Zealand in Paris/Saint-Denis. Five different players scored for the host nation as they scored three goals by the 71st minute and then poured in two more in stoppage time from Ludovic Guily (91st minute) and Robert Pires (93rd).
In the other Group A match, Colombia won the battle for second place, downing Japan 1-0 in Saint Etienne on a 68th minute goal from Giovanni Hernandez. With those results, France (3-0-0, 9 points) won Group A and Colombia (2-1-0, 6 points) finished ahead of Japan (1-2-0, 3 points) and pointless New Zealand (0-3-0, 0 points).
- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report -
Participants: United States vs. Cameroon
Competition: 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup – Group B Opening Round
Venue: Gerland Stadium – Lyon, France
Date: June 23, 2003 – 9 p.m. (local) / 3 p.m. ET
Weather: 76 degrees; warm, dusky
1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
Cameroon 0 0 0
USA: 18-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 16-Danny Califf, 12-Carlos Bocanegra, 23-Cory Gibbs; 14-Chris Armas (Capt.), 13-Kyle Martino (10-Landon Donovan, 55), 15-Bobby Convey, 7-Eddie Lewis (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 82); 9-Jovan Kirovski (8-Earnie Stewart, 70), 11-Clint Mathis.
Subs Not Used: 1-Joe Cannon, 19-Marcus Hahnemann; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 3-Gregg Berhalter, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 5-Greg Vanney, 21-Jeff Cunningham, 20-Taylor Twellman, 22-Chris Klein.
Manager: Bruce Arena.
CMR: 12-Eric Kwekeu; 5-Thimothee Atouba, 6-Pierre Njanka, 13-Lucien Mettomo (Capt.), 20-Ngassem Falemi; 15-Gustave Bahoken (8-Geremi, 83), 18-Mahamadou Idrissou, 10-Achille Emana, 14-Joel Epalle; 21-Joseph-Desire Job (9-Samuel Etoo, 75), 16-Valery Mezague (7-Modeste Mbami, 75).
Subs Not Used: 1-Idris Kameni, 23-Andre Eboue; 2-Bill Tchato, 3-Jean Joel Perrier Doumbe, 4-Rigobert Song, 11-Pius Ndiefi, 17-Marc-Vivien Foe, 19-Eric Djemba Djemba, 22-Parfait Ngon Adjam.
Head Coach: Winnie Schaefer.
Statistical Summary: USA CMR
Shots 7 7
Saves 3 3
Corner Kicks 5 7
Fouls 9 12
Offside 3 4
CAM – Thimothee Atouba (caution) 53rd minute.
USA – Bobby Convey (caution) 82.
Referee: Mark Shield (Australia)
Assistant Referee #1: Jim Ouliaris (Australia)
Assistant Referee #2: Yuri Dupanoc (Australia)
Fourth Official: Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay)
Chevrolet Man of Match: Carlos Bocanegra