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  • U.S. put in impressive effort against Mexico, even before Pope won it.

    U.S. men

    Pope knocks home rebound in stoppage time to defeat Mexico 1-0.

    DALLAS (Wednesday, April 28, 2004) -- Eddie Pope dramatically knocked home a rebound of Taylor Twellman's flying header deep into stoppage time, providing the United States a 1-0 decision over Mexico in a friendly before 45,048 at the Cotton Bowl tonight.

    Despite a audience that strongly favored the Mexicans, the U.S. posted its fourth straight clean sheet and continued its recent domination of its southern neighbor with a 3-0-1 record. Mexico, outplayed throughout tonight's proceedings, has not scored against the Americans in the last 434 minutes overall, dating back to 2001, and 573 minutes on U.S. soil, a span of six games over five years.

    The U.S. did not allow Mexico a shot on goal, taking six of its own, and held an overall 14-3 shots advantage. "The U.S. deserved to win. Obviously we were fortunate to get a late goal, but I think we created the best chances in the game and deserved to win," U.S. manager Bruce Arena said. "The speed of Donovan and (DaMarcus) Beasley in the midfield made a difference. At the end of the day, all it is is a little bit of bragging rights. We know that the most important thing for both teams is to qualify for the World Cup. The game gives me an opportunity to see our players in a great environment, and a lot of our players have made the statement that they deserve to be part of the qualifying process."

    In the third minute of injury time, just when it seemed the U.S. would have to satisfied with its second consecutive scoreless draw against Mexico in Texas, Twellman took a touch pass and sent a spinning, falling left-footed pass deep into the right corner for midfielder Landon Donovan who, 14 yards from the end line was chopped down by defender Omar Briceno, earning a yellow card.

    About 10 yards from the right perimeter of the penalty area, Donovan stood over the free kick, staring at a two-man wall. However Bobby Convey, who had come into the vicinity came from his left back position, stepped in quickly to curl a left-footer to the top center of the six-yard box where Twellman elevated well above Briceno and defender Francisco Rodriguez, both who had their backs to the play and were staring at their own goal.

    Twellman, who replaced striker Josh Wolff in the 66th minute, got the full weight of his body into his header to the right center of the goal. Keeper Oswaldo Sanchez dove quickly to his left to stop the shot with his left hand and weakly batted the ball away with his right. Pope, the central defender was perfectly positioned for the rebound and authoritatively used his left foot to knock home the winner behind the fallen Sanchez from three yards for the 1-0 advantage.

    "Taylor Twellman did a great job to get up and beat everyone to head it on goal," said Pope, who has six goals in 60 international appearances. "I was surprised the keeper got a hand to it. He made a good save, but he wasn't able to hold onto it and I was there to finish it. It's always good to score against Mexico."

    Convey said: "I think we were playing great balls in the box for the whole game. We had most of the play in the game. It was a good ball in. Everybody crashed the goal and Eddie put it in there. I think it was good for him to get that goal since he had chances throughout the game."

    Before the game ended a minute later, Mexico sent a long ball skipping off the wet turf into the middle of the box, but U.S. goalkeeper Jonny Walker came eight yards off his line to smother it, a yard ahead of the extended right foot of Mexican reserve defender Emilio Mora.

    The Americans "stood their ground well and they pressured too, and it got complicated for us," Mora said. "They took advantage of the one play we gave them -- a dead ball."

    The U.S. is 6-1-1 against Mexico since 2000, though the most important victory came on June 17, 2002, a 2-0 decision in the Round of 16 in the 2002 World Cup, a result considered a national tragedy south of the border. Mexico won its only home game in that time 1-0 in Mexico City on July 1, 2001. Still, even in the U.S., Mexico usually plays before a large congregation of its partisan fans in this series, including the last meeting, a 0-0 draw before 69,582 at Reliant Stadium in Houston last May 8.

    Tonight, the U.S. was faster, stronger and more determined, dominating possession for large periods of time and not allowing Mexico to ever establish a rhythm.

    Donovan nearly put the Americans ahead 1-0 in the 33rd minute, settling a defensive clearance at the left of the penalty arc and nailing a hard shot off the top right of the crossbar.

    Four minutes later, Donovan collected a loose ball in the center circle and took a run down the middle of the field, dancing past three defender into the left side of the box before launching an angled shot that Sanchez blocked over his bar.

    In between, Wolff was the recipient of a left-side Convey corner kick four yards from the near post, but headed it wide left in the 35th minute.

    "We deserved to win the game," Donovan said. "Defensively we were better. Attacking we were better. From a physical standpoint, we were better. We were faster, and we wanted to win more. I don't know if I've been in a game that we've played that well, certainly not in a long time. I'm just glad we won. I expected (Mexico) to pressure us and try to go at us, especially with so many fans, but I don't think they had a chance to breathe. We were all over them, and they didn't get a chance to get out and relieve any pressure."

    The U.S. continued its command after intermission. In the 48th minute, Beasley's hard work set up midfielder Kerry Zavagnin in the left center of the box, but his shot was deflected away by a sliding defender. A minute later, Convey found Pope with a left-side corner kick, but the defender's seven-yard header went directly to Sanchez.

    The U.S. dodged danger in the 55th minute when Mexico striker Omar Bravo fought off defender Frankie Hejduk to receive a pass from midfielder Israel Lopez. As Bravo stepped to his right, creating space for a shot, Walker charged out a clipped the Mexican's legs. As Bravo went flying and tumbling across to the turf, embellishing the severity of what could have been called a foul by Walker, the ball squirted to the feet of midfielder Jared Borguetti in the right side of the box.

    With Walker on the ground, Borguetti had an open net to shoot at, but his angled attempt hit the outside of the right side netting.

    "Mexico is a good skillful team and they moved forward very well," Arena said. "Their goalkeeper had a very good game. They struggled to create chances tonight, but they are always a difficult team to beat."

    In the 56th minute, Donovan had Hejduk overlapping unmarked into the right side of the box, but elected to shoot from 22 yards with Sanchez diving to snare the shot outside of his left post. In the 75th minute, Donovan sent a corner kick to the head of Twellman who shot wide left.

    Walker earned his first career shutout without having to make a save, though he was active in his box. "I think Jonny Walker, although not tested a lot, showed his composure and experience," Arena said."

    The U.S. begins CONCACAF World Cup qualifying June 13 against Grenada in Columbus, Ohio. The return match in the two-match series is June 20 in Grenada. Mexico plays Dominica to open qualifying.


    United States 1, Mexico 0

    Lineups: United States - Jonny Walker, Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Pope (captain), Pablo Mastroeni, Bobby Convey, Chris Armas, Kerry Zavagnin, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff (Taylor Twellman 66), Conor Casey (Jovan Kirovski 84). Mexico - Oswaldo Sanchez, Duilio Davino, Francisco Rodriguez, Ricardo Osorio, Diego Martinez, Pavel Pardo (Israel Lopez 46), Luis Perez, Octavio Valdez (Emilio Mora 67), Hector Altamirano (Mario Perez 61), Jared Borguetti (Omar Briceno 80), Omar Bravo.

    Scoring:
    United States - Pope (Twellman) 93+.

    Shots: United States 14, Mexico 3. Saves: United States 0, Mexico 6. Corner kicks: United States 12, Mexico 2 Fouls: United States 25, Mexico 12. Offside: United States 1, Mexico 5. Yellow card cautions: United States - Casey 25, Convey 36, Hejduk 71; Mexico - Pardo 21, Perez 30, Briceno 92+.

    Referee: Mauricio Navarro (Canada). Assistant referees: Hector Vergara (Canada), Amato DeLuca (Canada). Attendance: 45,048 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Weather: 65 degrees, light pre-game rain, wind.

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