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McBride goal and a gift enough for 2-1 victory over China.

Oliver Tse
Special to SoccerTimes

OAKLAND, Calif. (Saturday, January 27, 2001) -- In an international friendly with both sides missing several European-based professionals, the United States men defeated China 2-1 in front of a tiny, but vocal pro-China crowd of 8,903 at Oakland Coliseum this afternoon.

"It was probably not very far away from what we expected," said U.S. coach Bruce Arena at the post-game press conference. "We thought that fitness would be a real issue for us and it was, especially in the second half."

After missing several early chances, the U.S. opened the scoring at the 27th minute when forward Landon Donovan's through ball connected with forward Brian McBride who outpaced two Chinese defenders and struck the ball from the left side of the box with his left foot past goalkeeper Yu Weiling into the right side netting.

"I was really surprised Landon saw me and he played a ball that spun into my path," said McBride. "I was just concerned about getting in front of the guy on the left-hand side. I felt that the ball was lining up nicely for me to hit it with my left foot. I was concentrating on putting the ball in the corner. If I had struck it right, it would (have been) a difficult ball to save."

The margin of victory for the Americans was provided by a comical own goal at the start of the second half to make it 2-0. With his first touch of the match, substitute Chinese defender Wang Liang lobbed the ball toward Yu from about 45 yards in a botched backpass attempt. The keeper was caught off his line and was unable to keep the ball after he backpedaled in vain.

China scored a consolation goal in the 74th minute courtesy of a U.S. defensive error. Goalkeeper Tony Meola whiffed in his attempt to clear a weak backpass from defender Greg Vanney, allowing 19-year-old Chinese forward Qu Bo to dribble past Meola and score easily.

"I just tried to chip (the ball) over the guy, and I missed it," said Meola. "I should have done better with the option I chose."

The Chinese sorely missed their European-based players as their lack of cohesion and the absence of an organized attack from midfield was apparent.

"I am not happy to lose, but happy to have a game where the team could learn so much," said China coach Bora Milutinovic who led the Americans into the 1994 World Cup. "We used some different players in the second half. They need experience and they need to play games like this."

United States 2, China 1

Lineups: United States - Tony Meola (captain), Jeff Agoos, Gregg Berhalter (Greg Vanney 45), Eddie Pope, Carlos Llamosa, DaMarcus Beasley, Chris Armas, Clint Mathis (Kerry Zavagnin 70), Ben Olsen (Chris Klein 85), Brian McBride (Chris Albright 70), Landon Donovan. China - Yu Weilang, Shu Chang, Wu Chengying (Wang Liang 46), Li Weifeng, Sun Jihai, Xu Yunlong (Chen Gang 61), Li Tie (Song Lihui 73), Shen Si (Shao Jiayi 46), Qi Hong; Su Maozhen (captain - Zhang Yuning 46), Qu Bo.

United States - McBride (Donovan) 27.
United States - own goal (Wang Liang) 46.
China - Ou (unassisted) 74.

Shots: United States 10, China 5. Saves: United States 1, China 1. Corner kicks: United States 8, China 5. Fouls: United States 8, China 17. Offside: United States 2, China 1. Yellow card cautions: China - Oi 5, Chen 71.

Referee: Mike Seifert (Canada). Assistant referees: Hector Vergara (Canada), Scott Weyland (United States) Attendance: 8,903 at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. Weather: 55 degrees, sunny, clear.

Oliver Tse is the founder and editor of the authoratative soccerTV.com and can be e-mailed at olivert@soccerTV.com.

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