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U.S. MNT Wins, 1-0, Against South Africa in Johannesburg to Close Out 2007


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Nov. 17, 2007) — The U.S. Men’s National Team earned a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, behind a first-half goal from defender Steve Cherundolo. The victory for the U.S. was their first-ever on the African continent (in three all-time matches) and improved the team’s record in 2007 to 12-5-1.

“The result is important,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley after the game. “We have some young players with us, so the experience to play in front of this kind of crowd and get a result is important. I thought Steve scored a very good goal, and we defended well as a group. To be able to maintain a lead in that type of atmosphere is a positive."

The U.S. jumped out to a 1-0 lead In their final match of the year behind a 27th minute goal from Steve Cherundolo that came on some excellent passing up the right flank. After some early creative footwork from both Freddy Adu and Clint Dempsey in the game’s opening 15 minutes, the U.S. broke through on a restart from the halfway line with four quick passes from Benny Feilhaber to Adu to Michael Bradley to Maurice Edu and then finally to Cherundolo.

With the right back overlapping into the penalty area, he received a perfect pass from Edu and cracked an angled shot from eight yards out above South African goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez and into the near top corner of the goal. The goal was the second for Cherundolo in 43 caps in a career that began with the U.S. back in 1999.

"As far as the goal, there was room behind the South African defense so I saw the opportunity to make a run. Maurice Edu played a great ball in and we are able to expose them," said Cherundolo. "As far as the finish goes, you hit it and hope a little bit, and tonight I got a little lucky."

The U.S. had two other excellent scoring chances in a first half that saw the team adjust well to the altitude and long travel. In the 35th minute, Adu hit an excellent through ball from the midfield into the path of Beasley who hit a tough left-footed shot that Fernandez did well to save. Just 10 minutes later the U.S. had another strong breakout, with Clint Dempsey sending a perfect ball into the path of Adu from the midfield. With a step on his defender, and Beasley trailing unmarked in the center of the penalty area, Adu tried to lift a bending shot into the far post that sailed wide, missing the chance to lay the ball back to Beasley.

The second half began well for the U.S., with Clint Dempsey sneaking into the area and stealing a header from Aaron Mokoena back to Fernandez. With one chance to touch the ball around Fernandez, Dempsey’s excellent touch was impressively snared by Fernandez to avert the chance.

The rest of the second half, though, was all South Africa. The “Bafana Bafana” would eventually outshoot the United States 10-0 in the final 45 minutes, which began for the U.S. with three defensive substitutions (with Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Cherundolo leaving the game for Brad Guzan, Dan Califf and Jonathan Spector). For the match, South Africa led the USA in shots 12 to 3. Despite the heavy shot advantage, the South Africans rarely created any dangerous opportunities and only forced one USA save, that on an early attempt from Nasief Morris in the 20th minute that Howard easily snared from six yards out.

In addition to marking the first-ever start for Freddy Adu, the game also featured the international debut for forward Jozy Altidore of the New York Red Bulls. Amazingly, Altidore was the 61st player to earn a cap in 2007 under Bradley across 18 games. That’s the most players to ever earn a cap in a single calendar year for the United States. Overall, the young U.S. squad featured five players in the match with five or fewer caps (and 10 players with 15 or fewer international appearances).

"We have made a lot of progress this year," said Bradley, "and it is nice to cap off a lot of hard work with a victory. We are especially honored to be carrying home a trophy bearing the name of Nelson Mandela."

"I want to say thank you to SAFA and everyone in Johannesburg for being such fine hosts," said Cherundolo. "We had a fantastic experience and are looking forward to coming back."

The U.S. will open the 2008 campaign when they host Sweden on Jan. 19 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The match will mark the USA’s 500th official game since they began play at the international level in 1916. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow along live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

The 2007 CONCACAF Champions will then host Mexico on Feb. 6 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The game will be shown live on ESPN2 and Univision at 8 p.m. CT, and fans can follow online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The last USA vs. Mexico match in Reliant Stadium drew a passionate sellout crowd of 69,582 fans on May 8, 2003 and remains the largest home crowd for the U.S. Men’s National Team this decade.

The appearance in Africa for the U.S. was an important one and comes 18 months in advance of the team’s appearance in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, which will be held in South Africa one year prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. earned a spot in the Confederations Cup by claiming the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this year with a 2-1 victory over Mexico.

The USA’s last visit to Africa came nine years ago to the day, a 2-1 loss to Morocco on Nov. 17, 1998 in Marrakech. The only other trip to Africa was also against Morocco in 1992, when the U.S. suffered a 3-1 loss in Casablanca.




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

Match-up: USA vs. South Africa
Date: November 17, 2007
Competition: Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup
Venue: Ellis Park – Johannesburg, South Africa
Kickoff: 9 a.m. ET
Attendance: 30,000
Weather: 72 degrees, fair

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

Scoring:
USA – Steve Cherundolo (Maurice Edu)         27th minute.

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard (18-Brad Guzan, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo (21-Jonathan Spector, 46), 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.) (2-Dan Califf, 46), 14-Heath Pearce; 5-Benny Feilhaber (13-Jonathan Bornstein, 86), 13-Maurice Edu, 4-Michael Bradley,7-DaMarcus Beasley; 25-Freddy Adu (26-Sacha Kljestan, 73) , 8-Clint Dempsey (17-Jozy Altidore, 65)
Subs not used: none.
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

RSA: 1-Rowen Fernandez; 2-Vuyo Mere, 4-Aaron Mokeona (capt.), 5-Nasief Morris, 3-Ricardo Katza (8-Siphiwe Tshabalala, 71); 10-Steven Pienaar, 12-Teko Modise, 6-MacBeth Sibaya, 18-Delron Buckley; 15-Subusiso Zuma, 17-Benni McCarthy
Subs not used: 16-Itumeleng Khune, 13-Benson Mhlongo, 20-Bryce Moon, 11-Lance Davids, 14-Lerato Chebangu, 9-Thembinkosi Fanteni
Head Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira


Stats Summary: USA  RSA
Shots                       3      12
Saves                       1         1
Corner Kicks           2        8
Fouls                        9        3
Offside                     1         1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Benny Feilhaber (caution)         83rd minute.

Officials:
Referee: Eddie Maillet (SEY)
First Asst.: Jason Damoo (SEY)
Second Asst.: Winsley Francoise (SEY)
Fourth Official: Siphiwe Jibiliza (SEY)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match:  Oguchi Onyewu
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