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U.S. Men Get Three Points on the Road, Defeat El Salvador 2-0

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  • McBride Scores 26th International Goal, while Johnson Scores First Goal in First Cap
  • U.S. Extends Record Unbeaten Streak to 11 Games
  • USA Returns Home to Face Panama in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 13




SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (Oct. 9, 2004) – The U.S. Men’s National Team recorded a convincing 2-0 victory over El Salvador in Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador on Saturday evening, increasing their Group 1 lead in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup to three points. The U.S. is now 2-0-2 in the semifinal round with eight points, ahead of both Panama and Jamaica who are tied with five points.

The USA victory came courtesy of goals from Brian McBride and Ed Johnson, the 26th of McBride’s illustrious career and the first for Johnson in his first-ever appearance for the United States.

“We did well,” said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. “We took El Salvador’s best shot. I think the first half we were a little sloppy in different parts of the field, but I think in the second half we were much more solid. Obviously, we could have scored more goals. You don’t win that many games on the road in World Cup qualifying. We finished this round without losing a game on the road so I think that’s a big plus for our team.”

McBride’s game-opening goal came in the 29th minute, after the speedy DaMarcus Beasley had tracked down a great long ball from Kerry Zavagnin and earned a throw-in on the right flank. The PSV Eindhoven midfielder quickly threw the ball in on the wing, where Zavagnin collected it on a run into the box before playing a short pass to McBride.

McBride then calmly set himself up for a right-footed shot by sliding across the top of the penalty area with four straight touches as no El Salvador defenders closed on him, burying his shot from 16 yards into the upper right corner. The goal for McBride was his seventh all-time against El Salvador.

“When I received the ball, I just tried to shield it and turn,” said McBride. “I faked the shot and the second time I was going to hit it but I faked again and they fell off again and the ball set up for the third time and I struck it pretty well.”

Johnson’s first career goal came just four minutes after he came into the match as a second-half sub, earning his first-ever cap for the full U.S. Men’s National Team. The goal couldn’t have been much easier for the longtime U.S. Youth National Team standout, as he slotted a square ball from Landon Donovan into an empty net after the 22-year-old World Cup veteran was sprung into the area on an excellent pass from Beasley. Johnson was left unmarked on his goal as the last Salvadoran defender, captain Victor Velasquez, tried to steal the ball away from Donovan, who beat him on the dribble before hitting the wide-open Johnson.

“I was lucky. I was in the right place at the right time,” said Johnson. “I moved into the box and Landon made a very unselfish play to pass the ball. I just wanted to do well for the team. I wanted to hold the ball up and bring other players into the game.”

The match was a special one for Donovan, who was selected to wear the captain’s armband for the United States for the first time in his career. Donovan now has 56 career caps for the United States, including 10 in World Cup qualifying play.

“The second highest honor is playing for your country and the highest honor is wearing the (captain’s) armband for your country,” said Donovan after the game. “It was good because I knew I was going to be ready. It shows that the players have confidence in me and that feels good.”

Despite a 5-3 shot advantage for El Salvador in the first half, the match was dominated by the United States and was never in doubt. El Salvador was only able to muster one shot in the second half, and their only threatening player throughout the match was Victor Merino, who had a number of dribbling forays from the right wing into the area, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

The victory for the U.S. not only extended the team’s record unbeaten streak to 11 games (7-0-4), but also ended a dubious streak for the U.S. as the team won a World Cup qualifying game in Central America for the first-time ever outside of Honduras. Going into Saturday’s game, the U.S. had been 0-for-11 (0-5-6) in trying to earn a full three points in Central American qualifying games outside of Honduras, which included a single draw in their only previous qualifying game in El Salvador (a 1-1 tie in 1997).

In the game’s fifth minute, the U.S. appeared to jump out to an early 1-0 lead when Clint Mathis quickly touched a ball through the El Salvadoran defense to Josh Wolff who moved toward goal with no defenders between himself and the El Salvadoran goalkeeper Misael Alfaro. Rather than challenge the goalkeeper, Wolff slotted a ball into the empty space to his left to an overlapping Brian McBride, but the referee raised his flag for offside on the high-scoring U.S. forward.

With that goal already disallowed, the U.S. certainly should have taken a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute when Wolff and Beasley combined on an attack that ended with Mathis whiffing on an attempt from just six yards out.

Another strong attempt for the U.S. came just five minutes into the second half as Landon Donovan was freed for a one-on-one chance with Alfaro after Wolff had expertly turned on his defender on the right flank. Unfortunately, the San Jose Earthquakes forward’s low shot was well saved by the El Salvadoran goalkeeper and then cleared by his defense.

With the critical three points, the only bad news for the U.S. came in the 31st minute when defender Cory Gibbs picked up his second yellow card of World Cup qualifying play. The second yellow card means the Dallas Burn defender will be suspended for the team’s next match, a showdown with Panama at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Gibbs is the first U.S. player in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying to earn suspension for multiple yellow cards.

The U.S. returned to D.C. immediately following the game in preparation for the game against Panama on Wednesday (live at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, delayed on Telemundo at 11 p.m. ET/PT). Panama drew with Jamaica, 1-1, this evening in Panama City, Panama, keeping both teams tied on five points each.

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

Match-up: USA vs. El Salvador
Date: Oct. 9, 2004
Competition: 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier – Semifinal Round
Venue: Estadio Cuscatlan – San Salvador, El Salvador
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. MT
Attendance: 20,000 (est.)
Weather: 78 degrees; light humidity

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                              1 1 2
El Salvador                 0 0 0

USA – Brian McBride (Kerry Zavagnin)  29th minute.
USA – Ed Johnson (Landon Donovan)    75

USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 23-Eddie Pope, 3-Gregg Berhalter, 12-Cory Gibbs; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 5-Kerry Zavagnin, 17-DaMarcus Beasley, 21-Landon Donovan (Capt.), 11-Clint Mathis (7-Eddie Lewis, 68); 20-Brian McBride (19-Ed Johnson, 71), 16-Josh Wolff (13-Cobi Jones, 88).
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 6-Oguchi Onyewu, 15-Bobby Convey, 24-Jonny Walker, 25-Pablo Mastroeni.
Head Coach: Bruce Arena.

SLV: 1-Misael Alfaro; 2-Rafael Tobar, 3-Marvin Gonzalez, 5-Victor Velasquez (Capt.); 13-Deris Umanzor, 7-Victor Merino, 17-Jorge Rodriguez (21-Josue Galdamez, 80), 8-Santos Cabrera (16-Isaac Zelaya, 80), 4-Marvin Benitez; 9-Fredy Gonzalez (23-Jose Martinez, 70), 11-Ronald Cerritos.
Subs not used: 12-Dennis Alas, 14-Ramon Sanchez, 15-Julio Castro, 25-Santos Rivera.
Head Coach: Armando Contreras

Stats Summary:      USA   SLV
Shots                             8       6
Saves                             2       4
Corner Kicks                 3       2
Fouls                              15     18
Offside                           1       3

Misconduct Summary:
SLV – Victor Merino (caution)       30th minute
USA – Cory Gibbs (caution)           31
SLV – Ronald Cerritos (caution)   46+
SLV – Isaac Zelaya (caution)        85

Referee:  Ref: Carlos Batres (GUA)
1st Asst.:  Francisco Ortiz (GUA)
2nd Asst.:  Antonio Alvarez (GUA)
Fourth Official:  Otto Mejia (GUA)

Chevrolet Man of the Match: Kerry Zavagnin