DENVER (Wednesday, April 3, 2002) — An impressive second-half performance from the U.S. Men’s National Team this evening saw the U.S. take a well-earned 1-0 victory over arch-rival Mexico in front of 48,476 fans in the cool spring altitude of Denver’s Invesco Field. The victory, played in front of the largest crowd of the year for the U.S., improved the U.S. record to 7-2-1 through 10 games in 2002.
The lone U.S. goal came in the 66th minute when forward Clint Mathis finished a ball into an empty net from six yards out after Mexican defender Manual Vidrio and goalkeeper Oscar Perez collided as they tried to corral a looping pass out of the midfield from U.S. defender Carlos Llamosa. For Mathis, the goal marked the seventh consecutive start in which he has scored at least one point for the U.S.
“Carlos just dumped the ball in and I didn’t think anything was going to come out of it,” said Georgia-boy Clint Mathis, “but I went for it anyway and luckily those guys collided. The ball came to me and I definitely made it a little dramatic by hitting it off the crossbar, but a goal is a goal and we’ll take ‘em how they come.”
The USA has now won four straight home matches against Mexico, all by shutout, outscoring their southern neighbors 8-0 in those matches. Bruce Arena’s squad is also 7-0-1 at home in 2002 and is in the midst of a 712-minute shutout streak on home soil (a streak that includes seven straight shutouts at home).
“We are obviously very happy with the win today,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “Anytime we can beat a quality team like Mexico we have to be happy. I thought in the first half, the Mexican team did a great job pressuring us and we were fortunate to go into halftime even. We played extremely well in the second half and deserved to win the game.”
After a sluggish first-half for both sides, the U.S. made two changes after the break, altering their formation to a 3-5-2 with the loss of left back Greg Vanney (who played the first half despite a strained back). With the addition of Josh Wolff and Carlos Llamosa to start the second half, the U.S. attack began to pressure Oscar Perez’s goal.
Just seconds into the half, Perez bobbled a well-placed cross from Wolff that bounced awkwardly in the penalty area in front of Donovan with the net open, but Vidrio was able to clear the ball. A few minutes later, Wolff freed himself for a shot on goal from 20 yards that was struck directly at Perez, who made the save.
In the 64th minute, a crafty free kick from Clint Mathis was slid behind the Mexican defensive wall in the penalty area to a streaking Jones, who turned and targeted a left-footed shot off the crossbar. The sustained U.S. pressure would finally pay off with Mathis’ goal in the 66th minute.
“I am extremely proud of our team,” added Arena. “It has been a tough four months of preparation for the World Cup. In all honesty, some of our players were simply exhausted today. This is a day where the soccer wasn’t great, and you had to have a big heart to win.”
In addition to winning four of their last five encounters with Mexico, the U.S. are now 7-6-6 against Mexico in 19 games since the start of the 1990s.
Tony Meola picked up his 98th cap for the U.S. in earning his 32nd shutout, extending his U.S. records in both goalkeeping categories. The victory also moved the 33-year-old veteran’s record against Mexico to 4-1-1 in seven total appearances against the Tri-Colores.
The match was the first full international for the U.S. men in Denver in almost 10 years, going all the way back to a 1-0 loss to Scotland on May 15, 1992. More recently, though, the U.S. played at the original Mile High Stadium on July 13, 1999, defeating English club-team Derby County 2-1.
The USA’s World Cup preparations continue in Europe on April 17, when the U.S. meets Ireland in Dublin in a match being televised live on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The U.S. then return home in May for their final World Cup preparations and the three-game "Nike Road to Korea". Before playing their World Cup send-off match against Holland on May 19, the U.S. will face Uruguay on May 12 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and then travel north to face Jamaica on May 16 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
2002 U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT
Participants: United States Men's National Team vs. Mexico
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Invesco Field at Mile High (Denver, Colo.)
Date: April 3, 2002 – 8 p.m. MT kick-off
Weather: 42 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F
USA 0 - 1 - 1
Mexico 0 - 0 - 0
USA – Clint Mathis (Carlos Llamosa), 66.
USA (4-5-1): 1-Tony Meola; 5-Frankie Hejduk; 25-Pablo Mastroeni, 23-Eddie Pope, 3-Greg Vanney (2-Carlos Llamosa, 46); 8-Richard Mulrooney; 13-Cobi Jones (capt.) (10-Brian Maisonneuve, 69), 11-Clint Mathis, 21-Landon Donovan (17-Brian West, 77), 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 9-Ante Razov (15-Josh Wolff, 46).
Subs not used: 18-Tim Howard, 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 20-Brian McBride.
MEX (3-5-2): 12-Oscar Perez; 5-Manuel Vidrio, 20-Melvin Brown, 3-Heriberto Morales; 22-Alberto Rodriguez (15-Javier Saavedra, 46), 14-German Villa (13-Sigifredo Mercado, 57), 7-Braulio Luna, 16-Jesus Mendoza (10-Adolfo Bautista, 46), 19-Gabriel Caballero (18-Johan Rodriguez, 57);11-Daniel Osorno (8-Alberto Garcia Aspe, 68), 9-Carlos Ochoa.
Subs not used: 1-Jorge Campos.
Statistical Summary: USA - MEX
Shots 6 - 9
Saves 2 - 2
Corner Kicks 2 - 5
Fouls 19 - 21
Offside 4 - 7
USA – Eddie Pope (caution), 17.
MEX – Melvin Brown (caution), 46+.
USA – Landon Donovan (caution), 68.
MEX – Braulio Luna (caution), 77.
MEX – Alberto Garcia Aspe (ejection), 90.
USA – Frankie Hejduk (ejection), 90.
Referee: Clive Wright (Jamaica)
1st Asst.: Ricardo Morgan (Jamaica)
2nd Asst.: David Miekle (Jamaica)
Fourth Official: Ali Saheli (USA)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Clint Mathis