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U.S. MNT Defeats Venezuela, 2-0, at Cleveland Browns Stadium


• Brian Ching Scores Game-Winner in First Half, Dempsey Adds to Scoreline in Second Half
• Howard Secures Seventh Shutout of National Team Career
• Michael Bradley Earns First Cap With the U.S. MNT With Second Half Appearance
• Final Send-Off Series Match Comes Against Latvia on Sunday, May 28 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., Live on ESPN2


CLEVELAND, Ohio (May 26, 2006) — In their second match of the three-game Send-Off Series before the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Venezuela, 2-0, in front of 29,745 fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.

Starting almost an entirely different lineup than the match against Morocco two days earlier, the U.S. got goals on either side of halftime. Brian Ching tallied the game-winner in the 36th minute, while Clint Dempsey provided some breathing room with a goal in the 69th minute. Both goals came off crosses and were finished from close range.

The U.S., now 5-2-2 in 2006, will play their final Send-Off Series match before the 2006 FIFA World Cup this Sunday, May 28 at 7 p.m. ET, as Hyundai presents U.S. vs. Latvia at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. (tickets), live on ESPN2, and taped delay on Telemundo. After the match, the U.S. players and staff will have three days off before leaving for Germany on June 1.

"I think it was a good performance by the team. Our guys played pretty well for 90 minutes against a good opponent,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. “Obviously, it was a different game than the other night. Venezuela came out and attacked a little bit more so it was an open game, and certainly more enjoyable for the fans and probably the players as well.” (Post-Game Quote Sheet)

“We got good goals by Ching and Dempsey and some good performances across the back. I thought Conrad in particular played quite well. I was pleased with Ching’s performance tonight, Convey certainly played well, Tim Howard made a real big save in the second half, so (there were) a lot of good things. Certainly not perfect, but a pretty good performance and now we’ve got to try to figure out how to get 11 guys on the field for Sunday.”

In the first 10 minutes, midfielder Bobby Convey paced the attack with a number of darting runs down the left flank to serve in menacing balls into the box, but his crosses skipped through the area without seeing a finishing touch.

Venezuela almost stole the lead in the 12th minute when forward Jose Torrealba stayed onside to run down a long ball over Oguchi Onyewu, but U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard did just enough to force Torrealba’s chip to go wide left of the goal, eventually cleared out for a corner by Onyewu.

Ching had his first look on target in the 35th minute when he received a ball from Chris Albright in the middle of the field and gracefully spun his defender to give him room to dribble towards goal. With Eddie Johnson cutting to his right and drawing defenders, Ching took a poor touch before unleashing a 22-yard shot that Venezuela ‘keeper Javier Toyo easily handled.

Ching redeemed himself a minute later when he got to the end of a Convey cross for the game-winner. The Sierra Mist Man of the Match collected the ball and dribbled up the left sideline before slinging a cross into the penalty area. Ching crashed in at the near post and was able to stab the ball with his right foot about five yards out to direct it into the net.

Ching almost tallied his second of the night in the 54th minute after a nice build-up, but Toyo was up to the challenge. Ching chased down the ball near the top right corner of the penalty area and dropped it to Dempsey near the sideline. Dempsey held the ball for a few seconds before slipping the ball along the sideline to Albright, who had joined the attack. Albright whipped in a cross to the near post that Ching hit out of the air, but Toyo got down to parry it wide.

Venezuela tried to get back into the match with three good attempts in succession, starting with a tantalizing strike in the 60th minute by Giancarlo Maldonado from 18 yards out that went over the bar. Two minutes later, Pedro Fernandez uncorked a blast from 28 yards out that provided Howard with some difficulty as the U.S. ‘keeper had to punch the ball clear. The best opportunity came in the 64th minute as Juan Arango hit a blast from the top of the box, but Howard secured his seventh shutout, stretching high for a fantastic one-handed save.

The U.S. put the game out of reach in the 69th minute when Dempsey tallied his fifth goal with the national team. After some good build-up, Landon Donovan slipped the ball through the right side of the penalty area for Eddie Johnson. A quick burst allowed Johnson to run it down and lift a pass across the goalmouth before going over the endline. The pass found Dempsey who dashed in to head it home from six yards out.

In the 82nd minute, the U.S. was reduced to 10 men when Carlos Bocanegra received is second yellow card of the game after challenging a Venezuelan player for a header just outside the penalty area.

There were also a couple of inaugural events that occurred during the match. Jimmy Conrad wore the captain’s armband for the first time in his national team career, while Michael Bradley, who has been practicing with the 23-man World Cup roster since they started training camp on May 10, got his first cap for the MNT when he came on in reserve for Ben Olsen in the 89th minute.

Defender Gregg Berhalter joined the U.S. earlier in the day after being named to the roster to replace the injured Cory Gibbs, but did not dress for the match.

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

Match-up: USA vs. Venezuela
Date: May 26, 2006
Competition: Send-Off Series
Venue: Cleveland Browns Stadium – Cleveland, Ohio
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: 29,745
Weather: 65 degrees

Scoring Summary:    1    2    F
USA                               1    1    2
Venezuela                    0    0    0

USA – Brian Ching (Bobby Convey) 36th minute
USA – Clint Dempsey (Eddie Johnson) 69.

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Chris Albright, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 13-Jimmy Conrad (Capt.), 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 8-Clint Dempsey, 14-Ben Olsen (24-Michael Bradley, 89), 16-Josh Wolff (21-Landon Donovan, 66), 15-Bobby Convey (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 65); 11-Brian Ching, 9-Eddie Johnson (7-Eddie Lewis, 83)
Subs not used: 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 5-John O’Brien, 6-Steve Cherundolo, 10-Claudio Reyna, 18-Kasey Keller, 19-Marcus Hahnemann, 20-Brian McBride, 23-Eddie Pope
Head Coach: Bruce Arena

VEN: 12-Javier Toyo; 4-Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, 6-Alejandro Cichero (19-Gabriel Cichero, 65), 20-Hector Gonzalez, 17-Jorge Rojas (27-Jonay Hernandez, 70); 13-Leonel Vielma (16-Edgard Jiminez, 46), 5-Miguel Mea (15-Pedro Fernandez, 46), 11-Ricardo Paez, 14-Alejandro Guerra (10-Jesus Gomez, 56); 7-Jose Torrealba (9-Giancarlo Maldonado, 57), 18-Juan Arango (Capt.).
Subs not used: 1-Renny Vega, 8-Daniel Arismendi, 23-Gerzon Chacon.
Head Coach: Richard Paez

Stats Summary:   USA     VEN
Shots                        8            8
Saves                        3           2
Corner Kicks           7            9
Fouls                       16         19
Offside                     3             6

Misconduct Summary:
VEN – Ricardo Paez (caution) 38th minute
USA – Ben Olsen (caution) 38.
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (caution) 45.
VEN – Juan Arango (caution) 53.
VEN – Alejandro Cichero (caution) 56.
VEN – Jesus Gomez (caution) 58.
USA – Chris Albright (caution) 63.
USA – DaMarcus Beasley (caution) 80.
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (caution) 82.
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (sent off) 82.

Officials:
Referee: Mauricio Morales Valle (MEX)
1st Asst.: Arturo Velasquez (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Ramon Muniz Lazcano (MEX)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar (USA)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Bobby Convey

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