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U.S. men

Germany finds net three times in seven minute span in second half to roll to 4-2 triumph; Mathis nets pair for Americans.

ROSTOCK, Germany (March 27, 2002) -- The United States men received a vivid reminder that despite the giddiness of a 6-1-1 start to 2002, they are not yet in a class with the traditional world powers.

Despite conceding the first goal, Germany rolled over the U.S. 4-2 before a sellout of 29,000 at Osteestadion tonight, using goals by Oliver Neuville, Oliver Bierhoff, and Torsten Frings in a seven-minute span midway through the second half to break open a match that was not as tight as the scoreboard indicated.

Both U.S. goals were scored by striker Clint Mathis. "I'd give up scoring two goals any time to get a win," Mathis said.

Germany was highly motivated to erase the memory of 2-0 and 3-0 losses to the Americans in 1999, the last meetings between the nations and the only U.S. victories in the series that now stands 4-2 in the Germans’ favor.

"I thought the key to the game was their physical strength," said U.S. coach Bruce Arena. "We could have defended better and, at times, shown more commitment. They won a lot of the battles and, in the end, they were the better team."

The U.S. looked to take a 1-0 advantage into intermission, but midfielder Christian Ziege, the captain, gave his side a big lift by curling a left-footed free kick from 30 yards that dipped just inside the right post past diving goalkeeper Kasey Keller to tie matters at 1-1 in the 44th minute.

"I've seen Ziege do this in training all the time," said Keller about his club teammate at Tottenham Hotspur in England. "You can't cheat against him. If you move a second early, he nails you to the other post. You basically have to give him the upper corner. And if he hits it, you shake his hand."

It was the second time Ziege had beaten Keller in the first half, but, early on, defender Jeff Agoos saved a goal by clearing the ball off the goal line. Keller then had to charge off his line twice for diving saves to deny Bierhoff and Schneider.

"We did have a chance to score a second goal and go up 2-nil, and, of course, they had their chances," U.S. midfielder Earnie Stewart said. "It is just a shame that we couldn't keep the 1-nil lead until halftime."

Germany picked up where it left off in the second half, attacking in waves. The barrage started in the 61st minute off a corner from Bernd Schneider with forward Oliver Neuville poking the ball into the U.S. goal after a scramble in the penalty area to give Germany a 2-1 lead.

Schneider had a hand in Germany’s third and fourth goals as well. In the 65th minute, he sent a cross from the right side that expertly found veteran striker Oliver Bierhoff, who rifled a shot home from 10 yards out. Another giveaway from the U.S. defense let Schneider carry the ball down the right flank. Schneider then passed to Bierhoff, who then found midfielder Torsten Frings for an easy eight-yard shot past a helpless Keller to make it 4-1.

"Obviously they are a very big and strong team. And when you are a little bit smaller (like the U.S.), you have to want it that much more, and we got pushed around a bit today," Keller said. "I was disappointed. I thought we had a pretty fresh start, but they didn't panic and stuck to their game plan. We were disappointed in the way we came out the second half. We had a bad 15 minutes. But in all fairness, we changed it around a bit and had chances to get back into the game. They beat us on the day, and we have to hold our hands up and learn from it."

Mathis cut the U.S. deficit to 4-2 in the 71st minute on a counterattack from the German midfield. Forward Joe-Max Moore, who replaced Jovan Kirovski in the 59th minute, waited for Mathis to make his run and sent a pass with the outside of his right foot to catch the attacker in stride just outside the right post. Mathis fired a low shot to the far corner to beat reserve keeper Hans Jorg Butt.

Despite Germany controlling play, Mathis put the U.S. ahead 1-0 in the 17th minute, taking a pass from Kirovski on another counterattack and beating goalkeeper Frank Rost, only to hit the far post. The ball, however, fell in the six-yard box for Mathis to put away his own rebound into an empty net.

"Apart from the first 20 minutes of the second half, I thought we did well against a tough German team," Stewart said. "They have so many big boys in there that sometimes, especially with corner kicks, they start to push and shove, and they get that physical advantage."

"We gave up a few too many free kicks and corners. It was a little unnecessary, which makes things more difficult. Overall, except for that 20-minute stretch, I thought the boys held up pretty good. It was a pretty open game, which you don't normally have against Germany. We were lucky to score first against the run of play, and then all of a sudden things started to happen for us.

Mathis also netted a pair in a 4-0 shutout of Honduras in Seattle March 2, making him the first American to record two multiple-goal games in a calendar year since Moore did it in 1993.

Germany, which was missing about seven of its likely World Cup starters because of injuries and other reasons, was also without key midfielder Michael Ballack, its top scorer in World Cup qualifying, who went down with a hamstring injury over the weekend with Bayern Leverkusen in Bundesliga action.

"I'm happy with the attitude of our players," German coach Rudi Völler said. "They gave everything from the first to the last minute, even though our lineup was a bit makeshift. The Americans smartly knew how to take apart our three-man defensive line. We had some problems keeping our lines together."

The United States played without its captain, midfielder Claudio Reyna, who returned to English Permier League play for Sunderland this weekend after three weeks recovering from hamstring and ankle ailments. Striker Brian McBride and midfielder John O'Brien were on the bench because of injuries picked up in preparations for this match.

Germany 4, United States 2

Lineups: Germany - Frank Rost (Hans Jorg Butt 46), Frank Baumann, Thomas Linke, Carsten Ramelow, Jens Jeremies (Joerg Heinrich 69), Torsten Frings, Dietmar Hamman, Bernd Schneider (Gerald Asamoah 75), Christian Ziege - captain (Joerg Boehme 61), Oliver Bierhoff, Oliver Neuville (Thomas Brdaric 80). United States - Kasey Keller, Steve Cherundolo (Tony Sanneh 72), Jeff Agoos (Gregg Berhalter 72), Eddie Pope, David Regis, Chris Armas, Eddie Lewis (Cobi Jones 69), Earnie Stewart (captain), Landon Donovan, Clint Mathis, Jovan Kirovski (Joe-Max Moore 59).

United States - Mathis (Kirovski) 17.
Germany - Ziege (Unassisted) 44.
Germany - Neuville (unassisted) 61.
Germany - Bierhoff (Schneider) 65.
Germany - Frings (Bierhoff) 68.
United States - Mathis (Moore) 71.

Shots: Germany 18, United States 9. Saves: Germany 0, United States 7. Corner kicks: Germany 8, United States 4 Fouls: Germany 12, United States 10. Offside: Germany 3, United States 2.

Referee: Berhard Brutger (Austria) Referee assistants: Johann Hechtl (Austria), Norbert Schwab (Austria) Attendance: 29,000 at Osteestadion in Rostock, Germany. Weather: 40 degrees, clear, cool.

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