• Ben Olsen Scores Equalizer After Jamaica Takes Lead in the Fourth Minute
• Landon Donovan Becomes All-Time U.S. Assist Leader in with 23 in Seven-Year Career
• Tony Meola Becomes Just the Ninth U.S. MNT Player to Earn His 100th Cap
• U.S. Manager Bruce Arena Will Announce 2006 FIFA World Cup Roster Live at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN’s SportsCenter and ussoccer.com on Tuesday, May 2
CARY, N.C. (April 11, 2006) — In the last game before U.S. Manager Bruce Arena announces his 2006 FIFA World Cup roster, the U.S. Men’s National Team battled a youthful Jamaican team to a 1-1 draw in front of a sold-out crowd at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The U.S. started slowly in their first-ever international match at SAS Soccer Park and Jamaica took a surprising lead when Teafore Bennett got behind the U.S. defense in the 4th minute. However, a strike by Ben Olsen later in the half allowed the U.S. to stay undefeated all-time against Jamaica. The U.S. has now met Jamaica 17 times, holding a 9-0-8 record against the Reggae Boyz.
Landon Donovan became the all-time assist leader in U.S. history by feeding Olsen on his goal, surpassing Cobi Jones. Donovan has 23 in his seven-year career.
While the U.S. was the better team in the match and pushed for the game-winner in the second half, the most important aspect of the game was the number of players fighting for a spot on Arena’s final 23-man roster for the 2006 World Cup. Arena will announce the United States’ final World Cup roster on Tuesday, May 2, live at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN's SportsCenter and ussoccer.com. Additionally, U.S. Soccer is no longer planning to announce a 35-player pool on April 12 as originally announced.
“Obviously, it was a very poor start on our part and I was disappointed about giving up a goal in the first four minutes,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena, who has led the U.S. to a 4-1-2 record in 2006. “Give Jamaica credit, they took advantage of that opportunity. On the night, I thought they gave a great effort.
“We were able to use this game as an opportunity to see some players. I thought it was good that we got a chance to see our players have to come from behind. I thought we responded well, from the 25th minute on. In the second half we had most of the game. We put the Jamaicans on their heels, but we were not clean in trying to break them down with the last pass.
“It has been a really good 2006 in our chances to evaluate our domestic players. Tonight and the next three weeks MLS games will certainly allow me to make some good decisions in terms of rounding out our roster.”
The USA’s meeting with Jamaica came just under a month before the team begins to use the Cary facility as their base training camp prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The team will begin final preparations for Germany on May 10 in Cary, and will train for approximately two weeks at the facility before kicking off the three game Send-Off Series.
The Send-Off Series starts against Morocco at The Coliseum in Nashville, Tenn., on May 23, in a game being presented by Budweiser, before continuing vs. Venezuela at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 26 (presented by Sierra Mist), and concluding vs. Latvia at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on May 28 (presented by Hyundai). Tickets for all three matches of the Send-Off Series are now available at ussoccer.com.
With his start in goal, Tony Meola became just the ninth player, and first goalkeeper, in U.S. Men’s National Team history to hit the 100-cap plateau. Following is a list of most appearances for the national team by U.S. goalkeepers: Meola, 99; Kasey Keller, 91; Brad Friedel, 82, Arnie Mausser, 35; Mark Dodd and Tim Howard, 15.
Meola made his first appearance for the USA against Ecuador on June 7, 1988, exactly 17 years and 308 days ago. That career span is now the longest in U.S. MNT history. Before the match, Meola sat down with ussoccer.com for an exclusive all_access video interview and podcast (listen) to discuss his illustrious career.
"Tonight for me was just a great night," said Meola. "I did it with a great group of guys that really appreciated it - the first 99 as much as they appreciated tonight. They let me know about it all week. We joked a lot about it. Apparently, I'm 67 years old instead of 37 according to them, and 1988 was 100 years ago, not 18. It was great. I am just so happy that I was able to be part of it."
After putting some pressure on Jamaica early on, the Reggae Boyz surprised the U.S. backline to score in the 4th minute. Ricketts controlled a header back by a defender and quickly tossed the ball out wide left for Jermaine Hue. From the midfield stripe, the Kansas City Wizards midfielder played a darting ball through on the left side for Teafore Bennett, who made an excellent diagonal run right behind an unsuspecting Frankie Hejduk. As Meola came out toward the corner of the six-yard box, Bennett did well to slot it past the ‘keeper low into the right side netting.
A quick restart by Donovan in the 25th minute provided the U.S. with the equalizer and pushed him to the top of the all-time assist list in U.S. history. Pat Noonan was fouled along the left sideline and Donovan quickly took the free kick, pushing it on to his right for Olsen. With space in front of him, Olsen took two touches to get into the penalty area before unleashing a low left-footed strike that a screened Ricketts got his hands to it, but couldn’t keep out of the net.
In the second half, the U.S. tried to add some firepower by switching out the forwards with Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching, but Jamaica once again was the early aggressor. Two minutes in, Ryan Johnson got a foot to a long ball from the right flank at the six-yard box, but skied his attempt from point-blank range.
The best two chances for the U.S. in the second half came from the head of Chris Albright, who scored a header for the L.A. Galaxy this past weekend. In the 54th minute, Albright re-directed a Donovan cross from the spot, but Ricketts did well to parry the ball over the bar. Ricketts robbed Albright once again, this time in the 75th minute, as he stretched out to deflect the defender’s header that appeared destined for the lower left corner.
Jamaica had one final opportunity in the 84th minute when John O’Brien gave the ball away near midfield. Newton Sterling picked off his poor pass to Hejduk and raced up the field before unleashing a drive that went just wide left.
The USA was drawn into Group E for the 2006 FIFA World Cup along with the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana. The U.S. plays their opening match against the Czechs on June 12 in Gelsenkirchen before meeting Italy and then finishing off group play against Ghana on June 22 in Nuremberg. The U.S. has chosen the northern port city of Hamburg as their base of operations throughout the tournament.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Jamaica
Date: April 11, 2006
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: SAS Soccer Park – Cary, N.C.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Warm, 67 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
JAM 1 0 1
JAM – Teafore Bennett (Jermaine Hue) 4th minute
USA – Ben Olsen (Landon Donovan) 25.
USA: 1-Tony Meola; 4-Chris Albright, 23-Eddie Pope, 2-Frankie Hejduk, 19-Steve Ralston (8-Clint Dempsey, 55), 14-Ben Olsen, 25-Pablo Mastroeni, 10-Landon Donovan, 13-Pat Noonan (5-John Obrien, 67); 16-Josh Wolff (8-Eddie Johnson, 46), 20-Taylor Twellman (11-Brian Ching, 46).
Subs not used: 3-Nick Garcia, 6-Kerry Zavagnin, 24-Matt Reis
Manager: Bruce Arena
JAM: 30-Donovan Ricketts; 25-Claude Davis (5-Demar Stewart, 29), 19-Garfield Reid, 16-Omar Daley, 3-Damion Stewart; 7-Jason Morrison (14-Dane Richards, 59), 8-Jamal Campbell-Ryce (9-Fabian Dawkins, 61), 17-Jermaine Hue, 18-Khari Stephenson (20-Oneil Thompson, 71); 6-Ryan Johnson (12-Jermaine Johnson, 71), 15-Teafore Bennett (21-Newton Sterling, 62).
Subs not used: 13-Shawn Sawyers
Head Coach: Wendell Downswell
Stats Summary: USA/JAM
Corner Kicks: 11/3
USA – Eddie Pope (caution) 28th minute
JAM – Omar Daley (caution) 34.
JAM – Garfield Reid (caution) 74.
Referee: Jorge Gasso Flores (MEX)
1st Asst.: Pedro Rebollar Leon (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Jose Luis Camargo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar (USA)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Ben Olsen
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