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U.S. Falls in Opener to Czech Republic, 3-0

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (June 12, 2006) – The U.S. fell 3-0 to the Czech Republic in the opening match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup on June 12 at FIFA World Cup Stadium in Gelsekirchen, Germany.

The Czech Republic struck early as 6 foot, 7 inch forward Jan Koller scored on a fifth-minute header, and Tomas Rosicky added a 35-yard rocket before the end of the half and later added a second on a breakaway late in the game.

With the win, the Czech Republic sits atop Group E with three points. Italy and Ghana kick off a 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) to close out the first day of Group E play. The U.S. faces Italy next on Saturday, June 17 at 3 p.m. ET live on ABC.

The Czech Republic struck in the fifth minute as Koller headed in the first goal. Right back Zdenek Grygera found space on the right wing when U.S. left back Eddie Lewis was forward. Pablo Mastroeni gave chase, but couldn’t catch the speedy Czech before his pinpoint cross cleared Oguchi Onyewu and Eddie Pope and was headed in with authority by Koller.

The U.S. almost leveled the score in the 28th minute when captain Claudio Reyna hit the post. On a counter attack Bobby Convey played the ball into the center to Donovan, who quickly played the ball square to Reyna. After taking a settling touch, Reyna hit a drive past a diving Petr Cech and off the inside of the left post.

In the 36th minute, Nedved made a run to the left corner and received the ball before sending a low, driven cross into the area that was headed out by Onyewu right to Rosicky. Rosicky took a settling touch and drove a 35-yard rocket past the on-rushing Reyna that curled between an oustretched Keller and the right post.

In the 42nd minute Koller went down grabbing his right hamstring after going shoulder to shoulder with Onyewu chasing a ball into the area. He was replaced before the end of the half by Vratislav Lokvenc.

Rosicky tried to match his earlier effort in the 68th minute, again taking a shot at goal from distance but ringing the cross bar over Keller. His day was not over, however, being sprung by Nedved in the 76th minute and finishing over Keller before Lewis could catch up from behind.

The best U.S. chances of the second half came when a left-footed drive by Eddie Johnson went wide left, and a low Convey cross for Johnson was cleared by the defense.

Arena made two changes at the half, bringing Eddie Johnson in for Steve Cherundolo and John O’Brien for Pablo Mastroeni, changing the U.S. formation to a 3-5-2. After the third Czech goal, Josh Wolff came on in favor of Brian McBride.

For the U.S., Claudio Reyna, Oguchi Onyewu picked up yellow cards. If they pick up another yellow card during group play they will miss the subsequent match … Three U.S. players made their World Cup debuts, with Convey and Onyewu in the starting lineup and Johnson coming off the bench … The U.S. has an overall 6-15-2 record in World Cup play, 2-3-1 under Bruce Arena … The U.S. is 0-8 vs. European opponents in the World Cup in Europe.