"This was a pretty good result for us, considering we were playing on foreign soil," said Arena. "We created a number of chances, and it was unfortunate that we didn't score a goal. Tactically, we played almost a perfect game."
The match marked the first appearance for goalkeeper Tony Meola since the 1994 World Cup. Meola, 29 and largely untested on the evening, was the USA's first-choice 'keeper from virtually the beginning of his international career until 1994, including during the '90 and '94 World Cups. It has been more than 4 1/2 years (a span of 69 matches) since Meola last started in the U.S. nets. Today's shutout was the 28th of Meola's career, extending the USA's All-time shutout record.
The United States held large advantages over the Bolivians in shots (11-6) and corner kicks (11- 2), and created more quality opportunities, particularly through the midfield play of Eddie Lewis on the left side and U.S. captain Claudio Reyna in the center.
The USA owned nearly all of the offensive play in the first half and without the solid goalkeeping of Bolivia's Jose Carlo Fernandez, the visitors would have taken the lead. In the 11th minute, Lewis bravely lunged for a loose ball flicked on by McBride, but was stuffed by Fernandez at the six-yard line.
Later in the half, the U.S. found ways to further exploit the Bolivian defense; Joe-Max Moore sizzled a low, left-footer just wide of the right post on 30 minutes and McBride nearly floated a header over Fernandez seven minutes later after a wonderful build-up started by Chris Armas and Lewis in the midfield.
The U.S. defense, paced by Robin Fraser and marking backs Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope (subbed in the second half by C.J. Brown) snuffed out nearly every Bolivian attack. Special mention should also go to defensive midfielder Armas, who neutralized Bolivia and Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder Mauricio Ramos.
In the second half, it was much of the same with the U.S. possessing the better chances; in the 65th minute, Lewis swung a low, curling cross to the far post and an open net, but at full-stretch McBride still couldn't quite reach the ball for the tap in, and late in the match, subsitiute Roy Lassiter tormented the Bolivians with his speed and was unfortunate not to convert on two opportunities.
Midfielder Imad Baba, who played for Arena with the 1996 Olympic Team, earned his first international appearance for the United States, entering the game for Eddie Lewis in the 75th minute.
The National Team will regroup on Feb. 1, in Jacksonville, Fla., in preparation for a Feb. 6 match against Germany at Alltel Stadium. Kickoff for the World Cup rematch will be at 1 p.m. ET. Tickets for the USA-Germany match, which will be a double-header with the two nations' U-23 National Teams (kickoff at 3:45 p.m.), can be purchased by calling 904/353-3309 (TicketMaster).
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. Bolivia National Team|
|Venue:||Ramon Tahuchi Aguilera Stadium (Santa Cruz, Bolivia)|
|Date:||Sunday, January 24, 1999
Kickoff: 5:00 PM (ET) (6:00 PM local)
|Attendance:||Approx. 39,000 (capacity)|
|Weather:||90 degrees, humid|
USA - 1-Tony Meola, 4-Robin Fraser, 12-Jeff Agoos, 23-Eddie Pope (C.J. Brown, 64), 7-Eddie Lewis (6-Imad Baba, 75), 14-Chris Armas, 21-Claudio Reyna (Capt.), 13-Cobi Jones, 8-Jovan Kirovski, 20-Brian McBride, 9-Joe-Max Moore (10-Roy Lassiter, 68).
BOL - 1-Jose Carlo Fernandez, 7-Sergio Castillo, 3-Eduardo Jiguchi, 5-Ronald Arana, 4-Lorgio Alvarez, 8-Ruben Tufino (Capt.), 6-Raul Justiniano, 20-Raul Gutierrez (13-Luis Liendo, 45), 10-Mauricio Ramos (17-Gonzalo Galindo, 68), 9-Jefferson Gottardi (22-Juan Berthy Suarez, 68), 11-Limberg Gutierrez (21-Roger Suarez, 68).
BOL - Sergio Castillo, (caution), 81st minute.
|Referee:||Juan Carlos Paniagua||(BOL)|