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United States U-23 men fall to Liverpool reserves 3-2.

LIVERPOOL, England (Wednesday, August 5, 1998) -- The United States national under-23s team lost for the first time in 1998, dropping a 3-2 decision to Liverpoolís reserve team at the English club's Melwood Training Ground.

The Americans are now 4-1-3 this year.

The U.S. took the lead in the ninth minute when midfielder John O'Brien (Playa del Rey, Calif.), currently on loan from Ajax to F.C. Utrecht in his fourth season in the Netherlands, stole a ball at midfield from Liverpool's Danny Murphy and then sent a deft chip over goalkeeper Jurgen Nielsen from 35 yards.

The lead was short-lived, however, with Liverpool getting goals from Sean Dundee in the 27th minute and Gareth Roberts in the 35th for a 2-1 lead. Dundee's goal came on a redirected pass from the left wing from six yards out, while Roberts strike came after he dribbled the ball unchallenged through the middle of the U.S. midfield and unloaded a hard shot from 25 yards.

Forward Scott Bower (Tampa, Fla., Clemson University) set-up midfielder Joey DiGiamarino (Corona, Calif., Colorado Rapids) with a golden chance just seconds after Liverpool's second goal, forcing their goalkeeper out of position on the end-line, then laying the ball back to the Rapids defender.

DiGiamarino's hurried shot at the empty net was cleared off the line by two converging Liverpool players. A minute after he made a spectacular stretching save of Dave Thompsonís free kick, U.S. keeper Andy Kirk was victimized. Dundee fed to Oyvind Leonhardsen controlled just inside the box and chipped a soft shot past Kirk (Earlysville, Va., San Jose Clash) for a 3-1 advantage.

Second-half substitute Brian West (Laurel, Md., Columbus Crew) narrowed the American deficit to 3-2 in the 85th minute, taking a pass from forward Chris Brown (Portland, Ore. / Univ. of Portland). He dribbled down the right wing, cut back behind a defender in the penalty area and then hit a clever shot between the goalkeeper and the near right post with a flick from the outside of his right foot.

The U.S. was playing without starting central midfielder Antonio Otero, who injured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in training today in Manchester, England. Otero returned to the U.S. immediately for what is believed to be a tear, but could not be fully diagnosed until the swelling subsided. and treatment.

On Saturday, Otero helped spark the team to a 1-0 victory over the Bolton Wanderers reserves at Chorley Stadium in Manchester, England in the opener of a tour of England that continues through next Wednesday.

DiGiamarino scored in the 25th minute on a assist from Bower (Tampa, Fla., Clemson Univ.). The U.S. will play Manchester United's reserves on Saturday and the first team of lower division Hyde United next Wednesday.

Liverpool (reserves) 3, United States (U-23s) 2

Lineups: Liverpool- Jurgen Nielsen, Neil Murphy, Stig Bjornebye, Dom Matteo (Ricthie Partridge 46), Tom Culshaw, Dave Thompson, Oylind Leonhardsen, Danny Murphy, Havle Gudnason (Nial Byrne 76), Sean Dundee, Gareth Roberts. United States - Andrew Kirk, Evan Whitfield, Chad McCarty, Brian Dunseth, Ramiro Corrales, Brian Winters, John O'Brien, Peter Vagenas, Joey DiGiamarino, Scott Bower (Brian West 46), Chris Brown.

Scoring: United States - O'Brien (unassisted) 9; Liverpool - Dundee (unassisted) 27; Liverpool - Roberts (unassisted) 35; Liverpool - Leonhardsen (Dundee) 69; United States - West (Brown) 85. Shots: Liverpool 14, United States 9. Saves: Liverpool 4, United States 7. Corner kicks: Liverpool 4, United States 5. Fouls: Liverpool 6, United States 8. Offside: Liverpool 1, United States 2.

Referee: Fred Green. Attendance: 150 (closed) at Melwood Training Grounds in Liverpool, England. Weather: 70 degrees, windy.

United States (U-23s) 1, Bolton Wanderers (reserves) 0

Lineups: Bolton- Matt Glennon, Chris Dawson, Lee Pryers, Carl O'Malley, Nicky Spooner, Dean Holden, Alan Puwer, Martin Doherty, Lee Buggie, Kevin Truman, Peter Morrison, subs: Phil Bell, Matt Stephan, Ian Dyson. United States - Andrew Kirk, Evan Whitfield, Chad McCarty, Brian Dunseth, Ramiro Corrales, Antonio Otero, Steve Shak (Sasha Victorine 65), Peter Vagenas, Joey DiGiamarino, Scott Bower (Brian West 75), Chris Brown.

Scoring: United States - Joey DiGiamarino (Scott Bower) 25. Shots: Bolton 5, United States 16. Saves: Bolton 8, United States 5. Corner kicks: Bolton 2, United States 2. Fouls: Bolton 8, United States 7. Offside: Bolton 4, United States 5.

Referee: P. Balkham. Assistant referees: A. Tong, C. Mountfor. Attendance: 100 at Chorley Stadium in Manchester, England. Weather: 65 degrees, overcast.