BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Sunday, March 10, 2002) - The U.S. Men's National Team continued its string of strong performances in 2002 this afternoon with a 1-0 victory over Ecuador in front of a raucous, pro-American of 24,133 fans at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. The lone goal came from midfielder Eddie Lewis, the third of his international career, as he earned Chevrolet Man of the Match honors for his play.
The victory was the sixth of the year for the U.S., who have outscored their opponents 14-2 in 2002 while compiling a 6-1-1 record through eight games. The victory marked the first time the U.S. has ever won six of their first eight games in a calendar year. The victory marked the first time in nine games that the U.S. has beaten Ecuador, and, in fact, Lewis' goal was the first against the team after six straight shutouts dating back to 1984.
"What I enjoyed the most out of this game today was that it was not a friendly type of game," said U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena. "Ecuador came out and played a hard 90 minutes. It had the look and smell of a World Cup qualifier out there. You have to play in games like this. When things don't go right, you have to find a way to win, and I think our guys did that. In our first eight games in 2002, I think we've shown marked improvement."
Lewis's goal came in the 21st minute, as he slotted a bending, left-footed shot past Ecuadorian goalkeeper Jose Francisco Cevallos from 12 yards. The one-time shot was tucked neatly into the side-netting on the right side of the goal and finished a great set-up from Clint Mathis who was sprung deep into the left corner of the field by Cobi Jones, who hit a long pass out of the midfield that sailed over the Ecuadorian defense.
For Lewis, who has appeared in six of eight games for the U.S. in 2002 and now has 36 career caps, the goal was his first for the team since Jan. 29, 2000, a 2-1 win in Chile. Coincidentally, that match also marked the only other time defenisve midfielder Chris Armas served as captain for the U.S., an honor he received from Arena moments before kickoff against Ecuador.
The U.S. played the final 31 minutes with 10-men after Mathis was whistled for his second yellow card of the game after a late tackle on Edwin Tenorio.
"It was a real challenge for our players," added Arena. "We dealt with a lot of adversity with the red card early in the second half, but I think our team showed a lot of maturity and composure did a great job in killing off the game and walking out of here with a win. You have to play in games like this."
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard earned the shutout in his first-ever appearance for the U.S., making a key first-half save on Edison Mendez from a difficult angle in the 33rd minute. Howard has previously represented the U.S. at the Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 levels, playing in the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship and taking part in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
San Jose Earthquakes teammates Jeff Agoos and Landon Donovan have the two longest consecutive games played streaks intact for the U.S. Agoos has appeared in the last 16 matches for the United States, last missing a game back on June 7, 2001 (coincidentally, against Ecuador). Agoos hit the 125-cap mark today, and is only three caps shy of catching former U.S. defender Marcelo Balboa for second all-time in U.S. Soccer history. Meanwhile, 20-year old Landon Donovan has not missed a match for the U.S. since his World Cup qualifying debut against Honduras in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 1, 2001. His streak now standing at 13 games, Donovan has begun 2002 in brilliant form, scoring three goals and thrice earning Chevrolet Man of the Match honors.
The U.S. Men's National Team returns to action on March 27 against Germany in Rostock. That match will be broadcast delayed on on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET and on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET. The game can be followed live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics, at 2:30 p.m. ET.
U.S. Men's National Team Game Report
Participants: United States vs. Ecuador
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Legion Field (Birmingham, Ala.)
Date: March 10, 2002 (3 p.m. CT kick-off)
Weather: 55 degrees; brisk
Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F
USA 1 - 0 - 1
Ecuador 0 - 0 - 0
USA – Eddie Lewis (Clint Mathis), 21.
USA – 1-Tim Howard; 8-Richard Mulrooney, 2-Carlos Llamosa, 3-Gregg Berhalter, 12-Jeff Agoos; 14-Chris Armas (capt.), 13-Cobi Jones (17-Brian West, 82), 7-Eddie Lewis, 21-Landon Donovan; 9-Clint Mathis (ejected, 58), 20-Brian McBride.
Subs not used: 18-Zach Thornton, 10-Brian Maisonneuve, 11-Jeff Cunningham, 19-DaMarcus Beasley, 25-Pablo Mastroeni.
ECU – 1-Jose Cevallos; 19-Edison Mendez, 2-Agusto Porozo (capt.), 6-Raul Guerron, 15-Marlon Ayovi; 17-Geovanny Espinosa, 20-Edwin Tenorio, 5-Alfonso Obregon, 16-Cleber Chala (22-Luis Gomez, 66); 8-Nicolas Asencio, 18-Carlos Tenorio.
Subs not used: 12-Geovanny Ibarra, 7-Juan Carlos Burbano, 14-Moises Candelario, 21-Jorge Guagua.
Statistical Summary: USA - ECU
Shots: 4 - 4
Saves: 3 - 0
Corner Kicks: 4 - 3
Fouls: 19 - 17
Offside: 1 - 5
ECU – Carlos Tenorio (caution), 9.
USA – Clint Mathis (caution), 39.
ECU – Edison Mendez (caution), 39.
USA – Landon Donovan (caution), 50.
USA – Clint Mathis (ejection), 58.
ECU – Augusto Porozo (caution), 73.
Referee: Rodolfo Sibrian (SLV)
Assistant Referee: Raul Cardona (SLV)
Assistant Referee: Gilberto Gonzalez Ramirez (SLV)
4th Official: Michael Kennedy (USA)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Eddie Lewis