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U.S. defense collapses, Germany hands rout to depleted Americans.

Hejduk has strained hamstring, is replaced by Feilhaber on roster for Germany match.

Donovan scratched for game against Germany with calf ailment.

Dempsey dropped from Germany roster after suspension by Revs for fight.

Gulati is acclaimed new USSF president; board size is slashed.

Three games in May are scheduled as final World Cup prep.

U.S. game against Jamaica in Cary, N.C., sells out quickly.

Twellman's hustle sets up Dempsey's opportunistic header to beat Poland 1-0.

U.S. victory over Poland is welcome, but not particularly satisfying.

Arena selections for Poland game give hints of World Cup roster.

Klein's goal, pair of assists lead 4-0 rout of Guatemala.

American men end long camp with easy decision over Guatemala.

U.S. rises to occasion and dominates tough foe in victory over Japan.

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  • Donovan becomes leader in career assists as U.S. draws 1-1 with Jamaica.


    Poor U.S. effort leads to disappointing 1-1 draw with Jamaica.

    By Robert Wagman

    (Wednesday, April 12, 2006) -- In the days leading up to last night's match and in his post-game comments, United States men's manager Bruce Arena stressed he was less interested in the result as he was in seeing the efforts of several players on the bubble for making his World Cup squad.

    That, apparently, was a good thing because, on the day before Arena was to announce his 35-man preliminary World Cup roster, the U.S. played poorly over 90 minutes, producing a disappointing 1-1 draw with young and inexperienced Jamaica before a sellout crowd of 8,093 at SAS Park in Cary, N.C.

    Arena employed a somewhat makeshift lineup, especially in the back where two defenders who normally play on the right side each played a half on the left flank. Meanwhile, Pablo Mastroeni, who figured to help the U.S. as a defensive midfielder, went the distance as a central defender.

    The result, especially in the early going, was confusion in the back, which degenerated into chaos in the fourth minute when Jamaica took a 1-0 lead. Both central defenders were caught upfield with Frankie Hejduk having to come across the field from his position on the right side of defense to serve as the lone central back.

    When Teafore Bennett cut diagonally from right to left to receive Jermaine Hue's pass, he had position on Hejduk who had no help at all. It looked like Hejduk was at fault, but at least three U.S. defenders were completely out of position with no aid coming from the midfield.

    Once Jamaica scored, it fell back into a defensive shell, using eight and sometimes nine players to clog the midfield. The Americans really had no one in the middle to hold the ball and make passes with the result that the two pairs of forwards, each used for a half, received no service and were almost completely ineffective.

    The U.S. offense was limited to Ben Olsen and Landon Donovan attacking the stacked defense from the midfield with the only positive result coming on a quick restart by Donovan. He passed quickly Olsen, who mad a couple of quick touches and fired a shot that went through the hands of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for a 1-1 tie.

    Until Clint Dempsey entered the midfield in the 55th minute, the U.S. did not get much good play from either of the wingers. Both Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan are trying to come back from injuries and, while Noonan was the fitter of the two, neither was very effective.

    A bright spot for the U.S. was the 20 minutes or so that midfielder John O'Brien played, though his giveaway in the 84th minute allowed Newton Sterling a free run at goal for a potential game-winning shot that went just wide of the far left post.

    It was O'Brien's first game action since September, when he suffered a groin injury with ADO Den Haag in the Netherlands, and he has a long way to go to match fitness. Still, his ability to hold the ball in the traffic helped stabilize the U.S. midfield and put some organization into the attack.

    Jamaica is starting a long rebuilding road leading to 2010 World Cup qualifying. Coach Wendell Downswell brought an extremely young team here, including a couple of veterans, but mostly players from the lower divisions in England, a couple who play on Major League Soccer or the United Soccer Leagues First Division, and even a couple of American college players. Frankly, a team made up of the best in MLS should have been able to win easily, but the U.S. found itself having problems with the speed and size of the visitors.

    "In all honesty, I don't want to be critical of (MLS)," Arena said after the match. "Some of our guys have lost fitness and sharpness since we saw them in February. We are going to look at the next three (weeks of) MLS games before we finalize the roster. Some players haven't played much recently. Unfortunately for us, our domestic players need more time."

    U.S. player ratings


    Goalkeeper Tony Meola - 5.5: Wasn't busy, facing two difficult shots the one got behind him. Did well in earning his 100th cap with a confused defense in front of him.

    Defender Chris Albright - 5.5: Was at a disadvantage in the first half playing on the left side. Became one of the few offensive threats as he moved up on free kicks and corner kicks. Did better defensively in the second half on the more familiar right side.

    Defender Eddie Pope - 5.5: The good news is he looks as fit as he has in a long time. Did not play badly and limited speedy Jamaican forwards to few chances, but was strangely out of position as on the Jamaican goal.

    Defender Frankie Hedjuk - 5: He is normally able to use his speed to advantage offensively, but tonight he was considerably less effective than in the past.

    Defender Pablo Mastroeni - 5: Did not do well as nominally a center back. Often pushed far forward as he does when he plays the midfield with the result being he had difficulty getting back into defensive position. This caused onfusion.

    Midfielder Ben Olsen - 6.5: He was the best U.S. player for the first 60 minutes with his high work rate at both ends resulting in the only U.S. goal. His hustle on Landon Donovan's heady quick restart produced the equalizer. He helped his World Cup quest tonight.

    Midfielder Steve Ralston - 4.5: Returning to the national program after missing time with injuries, he did not seem up to the task tonight. It might be assumed he was limited all game by a groin strain that did not become evident until the second half, forcing his removal in the 55th minute.

    Midfielder Landon Donovan - 5.5: In a typical performance, he created good chances, including setting up Olsen's goal, with some electric runs and good passing, but simply disappeared at other times. When he is with the full U.S. first team, this might work, but more was needed from him tonight.

    Midfielder Pat Noonan - 5: He worked hard for the full 90 minutes, but did not have much to show for it. He seemed physically fit after recovering from injury, but not match sharp.

    Forward Josh Wolff - 5.5: Scored a nice goal, but it was negated by an offside call he might have prevented had he timed his run better. He could not find the target on other chances, but did fairly well considering lack of service.

    Forward Taylor Twellman - 5: Without any service, he was ineffective for his one half. When high balls came his way, he was usually beaten in the air by Jamaicans. He ranged widely in an attempt to create open space, but without much effect.


    Forward Brian Ching (46th minute for Twellman) - 5: For a target player who is strong in the air, the lack of service devalued his presence almost completely. He had a few touches, but was generally contained.

    Forward Eddie Johnson (46th minute for Wolff) - 5.5: He also suffered because he seldom saw the ball. He was left to retreat deep into midfield just to get a touch, but then found himself attacking against unfavorable numbers.

    Midfielder Clint Dempsey (55th minute for Ralston) - 6: Gave the U.S. some life on the right side. Made a number of excellent runs and showed skill, but could not deliver a much-needed goal.

    Midfielder John O'Brien (67th minute for Noonan) - 6: On the one hand showed his rustiness with several passes that did not reach their intended targets, but made others of a quality unmatched by his teammates. He settled the midfield down and worked well with Donovan, a positive return after seven months on the shelf with injury.

    Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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