"It was my first experience with this team, so it was good to get my feet wet, literally," said Denton, a rookie in MLS who has yet to earn a cap for the U.S., but was made a member of the Under-23 player pool earlier this year. "I just wanted to get involved (in the game). I'll play wherever they need me.
The MLS-laden U.S. team attacked at will and controlled most of the play, but lack of finishing kept the team frustrated in the first half. The U.S. team registered six shots, including a Chris Albright blast that rung the left post and a Donovan breakaway shot that was smothered by Fusion 'keeper Garth Lagerwey, before the Fusion took their first.
"It was our first game all together as a team, but I thought we looked good," said head coach Clive Charles. "We need to smooth things out, but we knew that coming in. If we would have finished even half of our chances, it would have been a much different game."
After falling behind 2-0 by halftime on stellar goals from Fusion starters Andy Williams (35th minute) and Welton (42nd minute), the U-23's rallied in the second stanza. Front-runner Casey, whose strength and size created numerous problems for the Miami defense, got Team USA on the board in the 50th minute when he ran on to a through ball by Denton and easily put it past Lagerwey.
Just as the U-23's pushed for the equalizer, the Fusion took the wind out of their sails with one powerful swing of the leg of midfielder Martin Machon in the 63rd minute. His 17-yard blast fit just inside the left post and left the score 3-1 with less than a third of the match remaining.
The U.S. squad attacked in waves during the last ten minutes, and it paid off in the 82nd minute, when attacking midfielder Donovan knocked home a beautiful cross from Denton to pull within one. Minutes later, a Casey missile shook the right post but ricocheted harmlessly away along with the team's hope of a tying goal.
The U-23's ended the game on a high note when Tim Howard saved a penalty kick from miami sub nelson vargas in stoppage time. Normal starter Adin Brown did not suit up as he is still recovering from the affects of the flu from this past weekend.
After normal training sessions tomorrow and Friday, the U.S. will face a Miami Select team Saturday (April 15) at 7:30 p.m. at Florida Atlantic University. Team USA will have one more practice session sunday before they head to Hershey, Pa., for final preparations for the CONCACAF 2000 Olympics Qualifying Tournament.
2000 U.S. UNDER-23 MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team vs. Miami Fusion|
|Venue:||Lockhart Stadium (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)|
|Date:||April 12, 2000 - kickoff 10:00 p.m. (ET)|
|Weather:||60 degrees - Cool, Steady drizzle|
MIA - Andy Williams (Unassisted), 35,
MIA - Welton, (Martin Machon), 42,
USA - Conor Casey, (Eric Denton), 50,
MIA - Martin Machon, (Eric Wynalda), 63,
USA - Landon Donovan, (Eric Denton), 82.
USA - Tim Howard; Ramiro Corrales, Brian Dunseth (Capt.), Chad McCarty, Steve Cherundolo (Matt Chulis, 75); Brian Winters, DaMarcus Beasley (Eric Denton, 46), Ben Olsen, Landon Donovan; Conor Casey, Chris Albright (Josh Wolff, 46).
MIA - Garth Lagerwey; Tyrone Marshall (Jeremy Aldrich, 80), Brian Kamler, Leo Cullen, Jay Heaps (Beech, 80); Pablo Mastroeni, Martin Machon (Nelson Vargas, 75), Eric Wynalda, Andy Williams (Henry Gutierrez, 75); Diego Serna (Jim Rooney, 46), Welton (Diego Serna, 68).
|Chad McCarty (caution)||28.|