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Big crowd, experience for youngsters among gains of Mexico game.

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American kids are all right; Donovan, Wolff score to beat Mexico 2-0.

LOS ANGELES (Wednesday, October 25, 2000) -- Apparently, the United States kids are all right.

Eighteen-year-old Landon Donovan and 23-year old Josh Wolff, both recent Olympians, netted second half goals tonight to give the U.S. a 2-0 victory over Mexico before 61,072 who watched the friendly at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The physical affair was full of hard challenges and charged with the usual emotion and intensity of a U.S.-Mexico clash. U.S. coach Bruce Arena fielded a young lineup, with seven U.S. players earning their first caps by the game’s conclusion.

As young as the lineup was, the Americans fielded an experienced defense with a back line of Greg Vanney, Carlos Llamosa and Jeff Agoos putting the clamps on the Mexican attack to help earn a shutout for goalkeeper Tony Meola in his 93rd appearance for the national team.

A mostly uneventful first half saw the U.S. create one good chance through the work of midfielder Chris Klein who played a solid match on the right flank. Striker Chris Albright played a short pass to midfielder Clint Mathis just outside the penalty area. Mathis played a first-time pass to Klein, who drove his cross on the ground, skipping behind Mathis, who had made a run through, and onto the foot of Chris Henderson, who aimed a drive for the corner where it was blocked by defender Sergio Almaguer.

"The first half wasn't the best for us going forward, yet we still created some counter-attack opportunities," Arena said. "In the second half the game settled down, and both teams were a little bit tired. We were obviously a lot more productive going forward . . . "I was very impressed with Chris Klein. He is a workhorse out on the flank."

Henderson, a member of the 1990 U.S. World Cup team earning his first cap since February 2, 1998, suffered a right calf strain and had to leave the match, giving way to Donovan.

"I wasn't really expecting to go in the game at that point," Donovan said. "To get in early was good and helpful. It was an incredible experience, something I'll never forget. I really enjoyed it."

Playing in his first full national-team match after extensive duty with the U.S. youth national teams, Donovan used the last third of the first half to get his legs, then tallied just five minutes after intermission with a nifty piece of dribbling. Mathis penetrated up the middle before slipping the ball between a defender's legs to the cutting Donovan, who had lost his defender with a dynamic run. Donovan danced around Mexican goalkeeper Adrian Martinez before rolling his shot into the open net from eight yards out for a 1-0 lead.

"Clint picked up the ball and I made my run toward the middle of the box," Donovan said. "Clint pushed the ball a little to far ahead, and I didn't think he was going to get to it, but I kept running anyway. He did a great job to get there before the defender and put it through his legs. It was easy for a forward to finish."

Mexico nearly answered in the 56th minute, but Meola had his corner covered when Daniel Osorno's shot went wide ride. Three minutes later, Albright stole a ball in midfield and raced in on goal, forcing a diving save from Martinez with a blast from distance.

Mathis and Donovan combined again in the 79th minute, leading Wolff's first international goal. Donovan received the ball from Mathis and worked down the left flank before powering past a defender to deliver a cross to the top of the 18-yard box. Wolff, playing just his third international game, calmly controlled the ball with a perfect touch and buried a low shot.

The U.S. has outscored Mexico 5-0 in their two matches in 2000, winning two straight games against their arch-rivals for first time since 1995.

Donovan, Klein, midfielders Kerry Zavagnin, Peter Vagenas, Bobby Convey and Sasha Victorine, and defender Joe Franchino all made their international debuts tonight.

"I've said for a year or two now that the most impressive thing about the national team are the number of players in the pool," Meola said. "Ten years ago we would never have thought about putting out such a young team, but we didn't think anything about it -- going out there in front of 61,000. We did well. It bodes well for the future. It shows how important Major League Soccer is to the development of our national team."

Tony Meola earned his 30th clean sheet and helped extend the team's shutout streak to four games. The U.S. has outscored its opponents 30-11 in 16 matches this year, compiling an overall record of 8-2-6.

The United States' next match will be its final Group E World Cup qualifier November 15 against Barbados at the National Stadium in Waterford, St. Michael, on November 15. The 2 p.m. match will be televised on ESPN2.

"Next for the team is obviously the game against Barbados on November 15," Arena said. "It is a more important game than the one we played tonight. We will make some changes, but that is the game that is important for us. We need to win it to advance to the next round. My thinking right now is that I will lean more toward MLS players rather than bring in a bunch of players from Europe on an 11-hour ride to Barbados and ask them to play on a Wednesday. So we have to find the right blend of players for that game, and we think that is obviously a very important game. We have to have the right group ready to play."

United States 2, Mexico 0

Lineups: United States - Tony Meola, Carlos Llamosa, Jeff Agoos (captain), Greg Vanney, Chris Klein, Kerry Zavagnin, Richie Williams (Peter Vagenas 86), Chris Henderson (Landon Donovan 32, Bobby Convey 91+), Clint Mathis, Josh Wolff (Sasha Victorine 89), Chris Albright (Joe Franchino 77). Mexico - Adrian Martinez, Sergio Almaguer, Omar Blanco, Duilio Davino, Pavel Pardo (Johan Rodriguez 46), Ramon Morales (Juan Pablo Rodriguez 58), German Villa, Victor Ruiz (Gilberto Adame 74), Daniel Osorno (Luis Ignacio Gonzalez 69), Jesus Olalde, Jared Borgetti (Cesaro Victorino 46).

Scoring:
United States - Donovan (Mathis) 50.
United States - Wolff (Donovan) 79.

Shots: United States 11, Mexico 8. Saves: United States 2, Mexico 2. Corner kicks: United States 4, Mexico 6. Fouls: United States 20, Mexico 16. Offside: United States 1, Mexico 2 Yellow card cautions: United States - Zavagnin 14, Albright 75, Wolff 79; Mexico - Almaguer 60.

Referee: Carlos Alberto Batres (Guatemala) Assistant referees: Erick Rolando Alvarez (Guatemala), Fredy De Paz (Guatemala). Attendance: 61,072 at the Los Amgeles Coliseum. Weather: 66 degrees, brisk, clear, breezy.

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