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Armas 48th-minute strike provides equalizer in 1-1 draw with Iran.

PASADENA, Calif. (Sunday, January 16, 2000) -- Los Angeles may be part of the United States, but when the U.S. men play there its always like a road game.

Today it was a lively pro-Iranian Rose Bowl crowd of 50,181 that watched the U.S. rally from behind for a 1-1 draw with Iran with defensive midfielder Chris Armas providing the equalizer in the 48th minute.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the U.S. under-23 men erased a one-goal deficit and defeated Armenia 3-1 on goals by Connor Casey, Peter Vagenas and Landon Donovan.

Iran opened the scoring nine minutes into the end-to-end first half thanks to some skillful footwork from Khodadad Azizi, who controlled a looping pass and split three defenders at the top of the 18-yard box before dishing the ball left to Mehdi Mahdavikia. Mahdavikia turned toward goal and slipped his low shot into the left corner under goalkeeper Brad Friedel who could not drop to his right quickly enough.

"We didn't do a good job with Azizi in the early going, said U.S. coach Bruce Arena. We gave him space and allowed him to get the ball and run at us. But we made adjustments and in the last 65 minutes I think we played very well.

It's disappointing we didn't have more people out here today supporting the United States. We have to get behind the national team in this country and support their efforts. I think it was a fair result. I would have liked a second goal and a win, but for our first match of the year we did all right. We played some very good soccer and that can't be disappointing."

Iran nearly extended its lead two minutes later, again through the creative work of Azizi, when the Iranian forced Friedel off his line to make a sliding save.

The U.S. came to life after the half-hour mark and pressed the attack forward to threaten the Irani goal. Brian McBride, who scored the only United States goal in a 2-1 loss to Iran in the 1998 World Cup in France, had the first good shot on goal, bouncing a header and forcing a save in the 35th minute.

Minutes later, Eddie Lewis showed a bit of acrobatic flair and hit a flying side-volley on target. On the next possession, Lewis teamed up with Claudio Reyna to force another save following a sharp passing combination.

For the remainder of the match, the U.S. was the better side, compiling an overall 18-9 shots advantage. The first 20 minutes we gave them too much space, said defender Jeff Agoos. After the goal we started to be more aggressive and the whole second half they really didn't get at us.

But it was Armas who finally scored for the U.S., roofing a powerful shot past Hadi Tabatabei. Defender Frankie Hejduk began the play, sending a long pass down the right flank to midfielder Cobi Jones who worked to the corner flag before delivering a cross through the penalty area to Armas. McBride and Lewis let the ball pass, and the 27- year-old midfielder converted.

"I'm not a goal scorer, but I was able to get that one on target and take advantage of the chance," Armas said. "Frankie and Cobi were able to work the ball in, and I called Eddie (Lewis) off the ball to leave it for me, and it went in."

Friedel kept the game tied with several excellent saves in the second half, including a pair of sprawling efforts to deny the counter-attacking Iranians.

"It was a great match, and we would love another opportunity to play Iran again," Arena said. "It was a well-played game."

Next up for the U.S. men is a trip to Chile for a January 29 match, a final tune-up for the upcoming Gold Cup.

United States 1, Iran 1

Lineups: United States - Brad Friedel, Frankie Hejduk, Carlos Llamosa, Jeff Agoos, Marcelo Balboa, Tony Sanneh (Ben Olsen 62), Chris Armas, Claudio Reyna (captain), Eddie Lewis (Jovan Kirovski 80), Cobi Jones, Brian McBride. Iran - Hadi Tabatabei; Javad Zarinche (captain), Mehdi Hashemi-Nasab, Mahmood Fekri; Mehdi Mahdavikia, Alireza Emamifar, Sattar Hamedani, Esmaeil Halali, Hamid Estili (Siroud Dinmohammadi 72), Ali Daei, Khodadad Azizi.

Scoring: Iran - Mahdavikia (Azizi) 7.
United States - Armas (Jones) 48.

Shots: United States 18, Iran 9.
Saves: United States 4, Iran 7.
Corner kicks: United States 1, Iran 2.
Fouls: United States 18, Iran 22.
Offside: United States 2, Iran 1.
Yellow card cautions: United States - Agoos 36, Armas 41; Iran Hamedani 38.

Referee: Armando Archundia (Mexico).
Assistant referees: Hector Delgadillo (Mexico), Jose Vazquez (Mexico)
Attendance: 50,181 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Weather: 64 degrees, overcast, cool.

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