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  • Gutsy, grueling effort beats Poland 1-0 for first victory of 2004.

    U.S. men

    Beasley goal defeats Poland 1-0, hands Arena first win over host Europeans.

    PLOCK, Poland (Wednesday, March 31, 2004) -- Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley scored off a quick combination of passes midway through the first half and the United States men handed manager Bruce Arena his first road victory over a European opponent by defeating Poland 1-0 before 10,500 at a sold-out Kazimierza Gorskiego tonight.

    Brad Friedel made three saves to pick up his 24th career shutout, making his first appearance in the U.S. net since the 2002 World Cup.

    Poland had a seven-match winning streak snapped and failed to establish a new national mark for consecutive victories.

    "Any time you can beat anyone in Europe it is a great exercise," Friedel said. "This is Bruce's first win in Europe and our last win came against Austria, so it is obviously difficult to win here. I thought Poland had a good team and they were very organized. After we got through the first 10 minutes of the game, we were very, very solid throughout. Overall it is very encouraging for us going into the last few games before qualifying.

    "For the most part, I've played with just about everyone here at least once, and a few of them for many years. To be honest, it didn't feel like I've been gone for 21 months. I felt very comfortable and I think it is because I've had so many experiences with the national team, so it is very easy for me to come back in."

    Striker Conor Casey, 22, making his first international appearance, started the decisive sequence. With his back to goal, Casey rose above Poland defender Tomasz Klos to chest down a long ball from U.S. back Gregg Berhalter about 28 yards from goal. Casey retreated another five yards to collect the ball, turned and touched the ball into the middle to striker Josh Wolff.

    With his first touch, Wolff slid a pass past three Poles to Beasley who had slipped a few steps behind defender Marcin Baszczynski into the left side of the penalty area. Running onto the ball about 12 yards from the left post, Beasley used his first touch to send a left-footer under keeper Jerzy Dudek into the far corner for a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.

    "We had possession for awhile and Wolff played the ball behind a defender," Beasley said. "We had talked about this before the game, because we have played together for a long time, so we talked about playing balls behind defenders. I made a diagonal run and was able to put the ball through Dudek's legs. Any time you can get a goal and help the team is a plus in my book. Winning our first game in Europe with Bruce means this is going to go down as a big goal for me."

    The goal came on the Americans' only shot on frame in the match. For Beasley, the goal was his fifth in 31 international appearances and came just three minutes after he had left the game briefly following a collision with Baszczynski that saw him get hit hard in the back. The tally was the second for Beasley on European soil, having scored in a 2-1 loss to Turkey at the Confederations Cup in France on June 19, 2003.

    The victory for the U.S. marked the team's first triumph in Europe in six years, dating back to a 3-0 win over host Austrian on April 22, 1998, a span of 12 games. Arena's teams had gone 0-7-1 in Europe going into today, losing to nations such as Russia, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

    "I thought it was a good game for us today," Arena said. "Beasley's goal was big since the Polish team was putting us under a lot of pressure early in the game. They also put us under a lot of pressure in the last 15 minutes and Friedel made two big saves for us. I was pleased with the way our team played. We were very composed and did a good job in the last 20 minutes to kill off the game and get the win.

    "We have a good team and over the last two years we have played some very difficult teams on the road, some very difficult teams to play against. We knew we would win one of these games along the way, and we were fortunate that we were able to win today."

    After playing the first half and earning the assist, Wolff was forced out of the match at halftime, the result of spraining his right shoulder in a tumble over Dudek in the 16th minute after he had worked a one-two with Casey to sprint in on goal. Wolff was replaced by Bobby Convey, who picked up his 22nd career cap and has now appeared in 19 of the last 20 U.S. games dating back through 2003.

    In the 64th minute, the U.S. had a chance to increase its lead when captain Claudio Reyna took a quick pass from Casey and found fellow midfielder Chris Klein deep on the right flank. Klein made a perfect pass into the middle of the box for Mathis, who was unmarked, but failed to control the ball 12 yards from goal. Dudek quickly gathered the loose ball.

    The quick release from Casey to begin that build-up was typical of his performance over 90 minutes in which he alternated between fast touches, and strong efforts in the air and to hold the ball against the imposing Polish defense. Casey had two goals for Karlsruher SC Sunday in a losing effort in Germany's 2Bundesliga, bringing his season total to 12.

    "I was excited to get my first cap and winning adds to that excitement," Casey said. "I thought the team played very well in a tough game and I was happy with the result. For my first game, I thought I did OK."

    In the next minute, Poland quickly went the length of the field and Friedel had to be quick, dropping at his near post on reserve midfielder Damian Gorawski's low blast from the top right of the box.

    The U.S. will host Poland July 11 at Soldier Field in Chicago.


    United States 1, Poland 0

    Lineups: Poland - Jerzy Dudek, Tomasz Klos, Tomasz Rzasa, Marcin Baszczynski (Tomasz Hajto 46), Arkadiusz Radomski (Miraslaw Szymkowiak 46), Jacek Bak (captain), Euzebiusz Smolarek (Damian Gorawski 62), Jacek Krzynowek, Grzegorz Rasiak (Marek Saganowski 46), Mariusz Lewandowski (Sebastian Mila 72), 11-Maciej Zurawski. United States - Brad Friedel, Greg Vanney, Gregg Berhalter, Pablo Mastroeni (Carlos Bocanegra 52), Steve Cherundolo, Chris Klein (Tony Sanneh 74), Claudio Reyna (captain), DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Mathis (Kerry Zavagnin 85), Josh Wolff (Bobby Convey 46), Conor Casey.

    Scoring:
    United States - Beasley (Wolff) 26.

    Shots:Poland 9, United States 4. Saves: Poland 0, United States 3. Corner kicks: Poland 5, United States 3. Fouls: Poland 9, United States 7. Offside: Poland 3, United States 1.

    Referee: Tommy Skjerven (Norway). Assistant referees: Geir Age Holen (Norway), Magne Tosse (Norway). Attendance: 10,500 at Kazimierza Gorskiego in Plock, Poland. Weather: 46 degrees, chilly.

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