FRISCO, Texas (March 28, 2007) — The U.S. Men’s National Team and Guatemala battled to a spirited, but ultimately unrewarding, 0-0 draw on Wednesday night at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. The game was played on a warm and breezy night in front of 10,932 fans, and served as a precursor to the teams’ upcoming showdown in the opening match of Group B play in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup this June.
The draw ended Bob Bradley’s run of three straight victories as coach of the U.S. MNT, but kept him undefeated at 3-0-1 in four games at the helm of the team. The scoreless tie also ended Landon Donovan’s three-game goal-scoring streak, having tallied five goals in the USA’s opening three games of 2007.
“I think it was a good learning experience, particularly for our younger players,” said Bradley, the only person in U.S. Soccer history to win his first three games as head coach. “It’s a different kind of game, one that they need to see, because we all understand that we are going to see these kind of games in qualifying. At times tonight it seemed like we were afraid to make a mistake. We have to find the confidence to push the game harder. There is a mentality that goes along with it, that even if the goal doesn’t come easily, it’s not something that you allow to frustrate you. Those are things that hopefully we can learn from.” [MORE POST-GAME QUOTES]
For the match, the U.S. outshot Guatemala by just a 7-6 margin, failing to beat goalkeeper Ricardo Tregueno, who was rarely challenged.
Guatemala’s best chance in the first half came on the stroke of halftime when explosive forward Carlos Ruiz got on the end of a corner in the final moments and whipped a scissor-kick toward goal that bounced in front of the net and over the crossbar.
Ruiz lurked along the halfway line for Guatemala throughout the match, trying to break away from a very taut defensive formation for the chapines. However, Sierra Mist Man of the Match Jimmy Conrad stifled the forward at every turn, rarely giving him any dangerous looks on goal. With no cracks in the U.S. defense available to him, Ruiz tried a crafty chip of goalkeeper Kasey Keller in the 55th minute from 30 yards, but the veteran ‘keeper had it easily covered.
The U.S. had a golden opportunity to score in the 61st minute, when Donovan put a ball into the area that was weakly cleared to a wide-open Jonathan Spector. The West Ham defender tried to hammer an awkward shot on goal from 15 yards out, but couldn’t fully connect with the ball and it trickled over the end line.
The best chance of the game for either team came on the prettiest combination of the evening, with a string of passes leading to a beautiful ball from Clint Dempsey that freed Justin Mapp in the 62nd minute in the left side of the area. Mapp’s blistering pace on the left wing was a challenge all night for Guatemala, and on this attempt, the unmarked Chicago Fire midfielder blasted his low shot just wide of the right post from 12 yards out.
"There were a few decent (chances), but still, in a game like that you're probably not going to see a lot of chances,” said Donovan following the game. “We didn't do a good enough job to get the ball into the places where we needed to create chances."
In the final 30 minutes, the USA turned up the heat as Guatemala packed it in, content to leave Frisco with a well-earned 0-0 draw. With Donovan dropping into the midfield and hometown hero Kenny Cooper coming in to earn his second cap in the 59th minute, the U.S. had most of the play late in the match.
Two other players also earned their second career caps for the U.S. in the match, Benny Feilhaber starting for the second time and Brian Mullan coming on as a second-half sub. Overall, the inexperienced U.S. line-up featured 14 players in the match, including nine with five or fewer overall caps.
Two defenders for the United States made their international debuts in the match, with the English-based duo of Jay DeMerit and Frank Simek both starting on the backline. On the other end of the spectrum, Keller earned his 97th career cap in goal, and increased his record shutout total to 46.
The scoreless match for the United States came on the heels of a scintillating 3-1 victory over Ecuador on Sunday in Tampa, Fla., which featured a hat trick from Donovan. The U.S. will not see action again until preparation begins for their two major championships next summer.
The U.S. will play a tune-up match against China on June 2 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose (tickets). Five days later, the three-time champions will try to defend their title against 11 other teams at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scheduled from June 6-24 in several cities across the United States. Just a few days later, the U.S. will participate in the 2007 Copa America, the regional championship of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26 to July 15 in nine cities across Venezuela. For the United States, the appearance will mark their third entrance into CONMEBOL’s signature event.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Guatemala
Date: March 28, 2007
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Pizza Hut Park – Frisco, Texas
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Weather: Partly cloudy, 76 degrees
1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
Guatemala 0 0 0
USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 25-Frank Simek, 23-Jay DeMerit, 12-Jimmy Conrad, 4-Jonathan Spector (13-Wade Barrett, 74); 2-Clint Dempsey, 5-Benny Feilhaber (19-Kenny Cooper, 59), 8-Michael Bradley, 21-Justin Mapp; 10-Landon Donovan (capt.), 9-Eddie Johnson (17-Brian Mullan, 67)
Subs not used: 6-Steve Cherundolo, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 14-Kyle Beckerman, 24-Brad Guzan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
GUA: 1-Ricardo Tregueno; 5-Henry Medina, 3-Pablo Melgar, 6-Gustavo Cabrera, 7-Claudio Albizuris; 2-Leonel Noriega, 15-Freddy Thompson, 8-José Contreras, 12-Carlos Figueroa, 18-Carlos Quinonez: 20-Carlos Ruiz (17-Dwight Pezzarossi, 91+)
Subs not used: 9-Edwin Villatoro, 11-Marvin Ávila, 13-Nestor Martinez, 16-Saul de Mata, 19-Mario Rodriguez, 22-Luis Molina
Head Coach: Luis Suarez
Stats Summary: USA / GUA
Shots 7 / 6
Saves 2 / 3
Corner Kicks 3 / 1
Fouls 14 / 11
Offside 0 / 4
GUA - Carlos Figueroa (caution) 34th minute
USA - Jay DeMerit (caution) 50.
GUA - Henry Medina (caution) 69.
GUA - Pablo Melgar (caution) 71.
GUA - Ricardo Tregueno (caution) 92+.
Referee: Benito Archundia (MEX)
1st Asst.: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Alfonso Delgado (MEX)
Fourth Official: Jair Maruffo (USA)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Jimmy Conrad