US SoccerUS Soccer

U.S. MNT Holds Off Late Rally, Earns 3-2 Victory vs. Japan

• Taylor Twellman Notches Goal and Two Assists, Has Four Goals in Two Games
• Landon Donovan Ties Cobi Jones for the U.S. All-time Assist Record with No. 22
• U.S. Men Will Continue 2006 World Cup Preparations Against Guatemala on Feb. 19 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, Live on ESPN2 and Telemundo

SAN FRANCISCO (February 10, 2006) — The U.S. Men’s National Team stayed unbeaten on their path towards the 2006 FIFA World Cup with a solid 3-2 victory against Japan on Friday evening in front of 37,365 fans at SBC Park in San Francisco, Calif.

The U.S. was impressive during the first half of the match, registering three goals in 50 minutes, but had to hold off a valiant Japan comeback late in the second half to secure the victory.

Taylor Twellman continued his hot streak as he was involved in all three U.S. goals, setting up Eddie Pope and Clint Dempsey in the first half before scoring the eventual game-winner off a corner kick. Fighting for a spot on the World Cup roster, Twellman has done nothing but impress the U.S. coaching staff in 2006, scoring four goals and notching two assists in his last two games.

Twellman’s game-winning goal began off the foot of Landon Donovan, who hit another milestone in his young career with the assist. Donovan upped his career assist total to 22 to pull even for the all-time U.S. record with Cobi Jones.

“Despite the final scoreline, I think it was a dominating performance by our team tonight,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. “In the second half, the number of substitutions impacted the game a little bit, but I thought for 60-65 minutes it was a very dominating performance by our team. Well done. I was very pleased with the effort of a number of our players.”

After a quick restart that enabled Japan to get off a dangerous shot in the sixth minute that sailed just over the crossbar, the U.S. was in total control of the first half, finishing with a 12-1 shot advantage. The first two U.S. goals were well-crafted combinations as the ball ping-ponged around the Japan defense before finding the back of the net.

The opening goal of the contest in the 24th minute started on the left flank as Todd Dunivant continued to provide excellent service to his teammates in just his second cap at left back. Dunivant placed a perfect long ball into the Japan penalty area that Twellman headed back, leaving it for Pope at the penalty spot. Pope pounced on the bouncing ball and nailed it past Kawaguchi into the right side of the net.

Pope’s goal was the eighth in his career and the first time he’s ever scored in back-to-back games, the veteran defender also having found the back of the net against Norway last month.

The U.S. continued it’s assault on the Japan goal as New England Revolution teammates Pat Noonan and Twellman both blasted shots on goal, but it was their other Revs teammate, Clint Dempsey, who doubled the lead in the 39th minute. After a nice give-and-go between Dunivant and Noonan, Dunivant pushed the ball to Wolff, who turned to find Twellman near the top of the penalty area. Two touches later, the U.S. was up 2-0 as Twellman slipped the ball to his left into the box for a streaking Dempsey, who one-timed it past Kawaguchi.

Four minutes into the second half, Twellman was almost gifted a goal when an attempted headed clearance by defender Yasuhito Endo hit off the crossbar and he won the challenge in the air for the rebound, but his header hit the top netting. Twellman didn’t have to wait long for another chance as the U.S. won a corner kick a minute later. Donovan put the ball on a rope to the middle of the six-yard box where Twellman was able to break free from his defender and finish off a diving header.

"He should go to Vegas,” said Donovan after the match. “He's been unbelievable. He's working hard. He's doing the right things and he's getting better every game. It's a lot different playing here, and I think he's starting to realize that and he's doing the right things and being rewarded."

“He's had two very good games," said Arena about Twellman. "He's certainly putting himself in a good position. It's going to be competitive right down the stretch for everybody. But Taylor certainly hasn't hurt his cause."

After their third goal, the U.S. slowed down a bit and Japan made some changes, which allowed them to mount an attack for the first time in the match. The U.S. didn’t allow Japan to take a shot for 54 minutes, but their first shot of the second half, and second shot of the night, found the back of the net.

Second half substitute Seiichiro Maki pulled one back in the 60th minute when he was able to finish off a cross from the right flank by Akira Kaji. The ball was too tall for Jimmy Conrad and fell to Kaji, who held off Chris Klein to head home past Kevin Hartman into the upper right side.

Japan continued their attack and in the 73rd minute Hartman had two good efforts, punching away a dangerous cross before blanketing a low cross in front of the goal by Alessandro Santos. Four minutes later, Hartman also had no problem taking in a drive from Tseneyasu Miyamoto.

Despite his best efforts, Hartman couldn’t keep Japan from making things a little too close for comfort in the final moments as Yuji Nakazawa got his foot to a corner kick, hitting it hard past Hartman and Chris Rolfe who was covering the right post. Japan didn’t have any time to try to find the equalizer though, as the final whistle was blown moments later.

After Friday's match, Arena released the eight players from the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New England Revolution back to their clubs in order to begin preparations for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup which begin Feb. 22, with the return legs scheduled a week later. The rest of the U.S. players currently in camp will travel to Texas for the team’s next match.

The USA’s road to the 2006 FIFA World Cup continues Feb. 19 in Frisco, Texas, when the MNT plays their first-ever match at Pizza Hut Park. Kickoff for the U.S.-Guatemala clash is set for 1 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Telemundo.

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

Match-up: USA vs. Japan
Date: February 10, 2006
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: SBC Park – San Francisco, California
Kickoff: 8 p.m. PT
Attendance: 37,365
Weather: Cool, 60 degrees

Scoring Summary: 1   2    F
USA                            2   1   3
Japan                        0    2   2

USA – Eddie Pope (Taylor Twellman) 24th minute
USA – Clint Dempsey (Taylor Twellman) 39.
USA – Taylor Twellman (Landon Donovan) 50.
JPN – Seiichiro Maki (Akira Kaji) 60.
JPN – Yuji Nakazawa (Mitsuo Ogasawara) 90+

USA: 22-Kevin Hartman; 3-Todd Dunivant (6-Heath Pearce, 90), 12-Jimmy Conrad, 23-Eddie Pope, 17-Chris Klein (25-Brian Carroll, 79); 13-Pat Noonan (7-Chris Rolfe, 87), 5-Kerry Zavagnin, 10-Landon Donovan (Capt.), 8-Clint Dempsey (14-Ben Olsen, 69); 16-Josh Wolff (9-Eddie Johnson, 58), 20-Taylor Twellman (11-Brian Ching, 68)
Subs not used: 24-Matt Reis.
Head Coach: Bruce Arena

JPN: 23-Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi; 2-Makoto Tanaka (17-Makoto Hasebe, 55) 5-Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (Capt.), 22-Yuji Nakazawa; 21-Akira Kaji, 15-Takashi Fukunishi (30-Yuki Abe, 55), 4-Yasuhito Endo (27-Hisato Sato, 46), 14-Alessandro Santos, 8-Mitsuo Ogasawara, 18-Shunji Ono (19-Masashi Motoyama, 68); 9-Tatsuhiko Kubo (16-Seiichiro Maki, 46)
Subs not used: 12-Ryfota Tsuzuki, 20-Keisuke Tsuboi, 24-Teruyuki Moniwa, 25-Shingi Murai, 31-Yuichi Komano, 33-Takashi Shimoda.
Head Coach: Zico

Stats Summary: USA JPN
Shots                      22     7
Saves                       2     5
Corner Kicks        13      5
Fouls                     12     14
Offside                    2       2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Chris Klein (caution) 8th minute
JPN – Yasuhito Endo (caution) 26.
JPN – Yuji Nakazawa (caution) 32.
USA – Ben Olsen (caution) 75.
USA – Eddie Pope (caution) 76. Man of the Match: Eddie Pope is the official site of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States.