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U.S. Opens Final Qualifying Round With 2-0 Win Over Mexico at Frigid, Sold-Out Crew Stadium


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Wednesday, February 28, 2001) - Important first-half substitute Josh Wolff had a goal and assist to help the U.S. Men's National Team open their final round of World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 defeat of Mexico tonight in front of a sold-out crowd of 24,624 chilly fans at Columbus Crew Stadium. Wolff, who earned Chevrolet Man of the Match honors for his performance off the bench, now has two goals in five appearances for the full national team.

The landmark victory marked a number of firsts for the U.S. Men's National Team, as the 2-0 decision marked the first time in the team history that the team has posted three consecutive wins over Mexico. The win also presented the first win over Mexico in qualifying since November 23, 1980, having drawn in the only two other head-to-head qualifying contests in the last 20 years.

The win also means that the U.S. now holds an edge over their border rivals of 6 wins, 5 losses and 6 ties in 17 contests since 1990. The U.S. extended its home unbeaten streak in World Cup qualifying to an impressive 17 games dating back to 1985, and increased its W.C. qualifying shutout streak to five games.

"That was obviously a great win for the U.S. team. We really wanted to get three points today against a very fine Mexican team, and we did that," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, who is now 2-1-0 in 2001. "We faced a lot of adversity in the first half and had to make a couple of changes, and I?m proud of the way the team pulled together at halftime, went out and did the job in the second half to get the victory."

With the temperature dipping below freezing just prior to kickoff, both teams began the match noticeably stiff from the cold. But the story of the first half was the U.S. suffering major blows to its starting lineup with early injuries to veteran playmaker Claudio Reyna and Columbus Crew forward Brian McBride that threw the team off and left them unproductive for the majority of the first half.

McBride was the first of the two key U.S. players forced to exit the match prematurely, when he had to leave the game in the 15th minute due to extreme swelling over his right eye that was a result of a collision with Mexico defender Rafael Marquez in the first 10 minutes of the game. Reyna was forced to the sideline in the 43rd minute with a left groin strain that left him limping through much of the first half.

Fortunately for the U.S., the two first-half substitutes that replaced them -- forward Josh Wolff and midfielder Clint Mathis, respectively -- made the difference in the match and teamed together to provide the game-winning goal in the 47th minute. Mathis played a long ball from the back that the U.S. Olympic star used his speed to run on to before touching the ball to the side of charging Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos and calmly striking it home as two Mexico defenders closed.

Wolff also created the second goal, carefully working Mexican defender Alberto Marcias along the endline, drawing Campos out past the near post, and laying it off across the box, where midfielder Earnie Stewart stepped up to slam it home from inside the six-yard box to clinch the win in the 87th minute.

U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who like McBride is also a fan favorite as a Columbus Crew alum, performed well in net. Friedel, who only arrived from England four days prior to tonight's match, earned the shutout with four saves, including a point-blank save on Mexican striker Francisco Palencia.

With the three points earned in tonight's match and a superior +2 goal differential, the United States jumps to the top of CONCACAF just ahead of Jamaica, who defeated Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 today in Kingston. In the other match tonight, Honduras and Costa Rica played to a 2-2 draw in San Jose, Costa Rica. The top three teams from the final qualifying groups will advance as CONCACAF representatives to World Cup 2002 in Korea/Japan.

The U.S. team will depart tomorrow morning for Los Angeles, where they will prepare to take on Brazil in an international friendly at the Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena on Saturday. That match, which kicks off at 1 p.m. PT, will be seen live on ABC.

The next World Cup qualifier for the USA is a March 28 away match in San Pedro, Honduras that will be shown in the United States on Pay-Per-View. The next home qualifier will be played at another Midwest venue, as the U.S. men's National Team heads to Kansas City for the first time since a 1968 contest versus Bermuda when they take on Costa Rica at Arrowhead Stadium on April 25. That match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Telemundo, will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT.

2001 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT

Participants: U.S. Men's National Team vs. Mexico National Team
Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying - Final Round
Venue: Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio
Date: February 28, 2001 - Kickoff 7:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 24,624
Weather: 29 degrees (clear, breezy) 

Scoring Summary: 1st    2nd    Final
United States            0       2         2
Mexico                     0       0         0

USA - Josh Wolff (Clint Mathis), 47.
USA - Earnie Stewart (Josh Wolff), 87.

Lineups:
USA -
1-Brad Friedel; 6-David Regis, 12-Jeff Agoos, 23-Eddie Pope, 22-Tony Sanneh; 13-Cobi Jones, 14-Chris Armas, 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.) (5-Clint Mathis, 43), 8-Earnie Stewart; 20-Brian McBride (15- Josh Wolff, 15), 9-Joe-Max Moore (16-Carlos Llamosa, 79).

MEX - 1-Jorge Campos; 2-Claudio Suarez, 4-Rafael Marquez (20-Victor Ruiz, 69), 8-Alberto Macias, 18-Salvador Carmona (19-Miguel Zepeda, 56); 6-Marco A. Ruiz, 13-Pavel Pardo, 14-German Villa, 22-Braulio Luna (21-Jesus Arellano, 75); 15-Luis Hernandez, 17-Francisco Palencia.

Scoring Summary: 1st   2nd    Final
United States            0      2          2
Mexico                     0      0          0
 
Statistical Summary:     USA       MEX
Shots . . . . . . . . . .            7            8
Saves . . . . . . . . . .            4            1
Corner Kicks . . . . .            5          12
Fouls . . . . . . . . . .           20          10
Offside . . . . . . . . .            2            6

Misconduct Summary:
MEX -  Rafael Marquez (caution) 36.
USA -  Josh Wolff (caution) 40.
MEX -  German Villa (caution) 56.

Cheverolet Man of the Match: Josh Wolff

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