U.S. Men's National Team Opens 2001 With Decisive 2-1 Victory Over China in Oakland
McBride finished off a beautiful passing sequence in the 27th minute to open the scoring for the United States. Defender Jeff Agoos started the play from the left flank near midfield, finding Landon Donovan in the center of the field. Donovan deftly chipped the ball with his first touch back to the left side, where McBride ran onto it in full stride and buried a low, left-footed shot inside the right post.
For McBride, the goal was his fourth in his last four games, equaling William Looby's 46-year-old U.S. record for goals by a player in consecutive games. The goal was especially sweet for the 28-year-old, who has battled back from a variety of injuries suffered in 2000 and last played for the U.S. on Sept. 3, when his diving header was the lone goal in an important 1-0 win over Guatemala at RFK Stadium in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
The U.S. would continue to challenge throughout the first period, largely due to the quickness and positioning of a pair of bright young 18-year-olds. An intelligent chip shot by Donovan sailed high early in the match, followed by a deadly left-footed strike on a breakaway pushed just wide of the far post by flank midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who received his first cap with the full Men's National Team.
The experienced backline of Jeff Agoos, Gregg Berhalter, Eddie Pope and Carlos Llamosa held China in check for most of the match, allowing only one shot on goal in the first half, which was easily saved by goalkeeper Tony Meola.
The U.S. men got a gift in the opening minute of the second half, as China defender Wang Liang inadvertently knocked a clearance attempt past goalkeeper Yu Weilang to make the score 2-0 in favor of the Americans.
The stingy U.S. defense just missed out on a shutout, which would have been the team's sixth consecutive dating back to Aug. 16, 2000. But China did pull a goal back on a defensive miscue when second-half substitute Greg Vanney played a short ball back to Meola as forward Qu Bo charged ahead to pressure. Meola came off his line and quickly tried boot the ball downfield, but Bo's momentum helped him win the 50-50 ball that resulted. As the ball fell at his feet, Bo was past Meola and calmly tapped it home in stride to make it 2-1 in the 74th minute.
Besides being the first match of this important qualifying year for the U.S., the friendly marked the first time in the modern era, perhaps even in entire U.S. Men's National Team history, that the USA has faced a former coach. In this unique case, Arena was down the sideline from soccer gypsy Bora Milutinovic, who led the U.S. from 1991-95 and guided the Americans to second round glory at World Cup ?94.
"This game fulfilled our purpose. We need games. We just need to get on the field and get our fitness and get some of our Major League Soccer players ready, and that was accomplished today," said head coach Bruce Arena, who improved his overall coaching mark to 16-6-8 across 30 matches since taking over almost 18 months ago. "The players that played 90 minutes, including (Chris) Armas and (Eddie) Pope, are going to be in the mix against Mexico. We are about four weeks away, and we're starting to slowly get there."
The United States will next meet Colombia in a Gold Cup 2000 rematch at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2001. That match, the USA's last tuneup before the crucial World Cup qualifier against Mexico on February 28, will be shown live to a national television audience on ESPN2 and Telemundo.
2001 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. China National Team|
|Venue:||Network Associates Coliseum - Oakland, California|
|Date:||January 27, 2001 - Kickoff 2:30 p.m. PT|
|Weather:||55 degrees (sunny and clear)|
|Qi Hong (caution) 67th minute.|
|Chen Gang (caution) 71.|
|Mike Seifert (Canada)|
|Hector Vergara (Canada), Scott Weyland (USA)|
|Ricardo Valenzuela (USA)|
|Cheverolet Man of the Match: Landon Donovan|
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