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Knee injury shelves Gibbs, Berhalter joins World Cup effort; Reyna appears OK.

Americans have causes for concern after loss to Morocco.

Reyna, Keller are each named to their fourth World Cup team.

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

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

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.

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Analysis

U.S. reserves have little difficulty in disposing of Venezuela.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Friday, May 26, 2006) -- The United States men, using almost all reserves, had little trouble subduing a sub-par Venezuela 2-0 in the second game of the Americans' three-match series before departing for the World Cup in Germany. An unexpectedly big crowd of 29,745 showed up at Cleveland Browns Stadium to support the U.S. team.

Having lost to Morocco 1-0 Tuesday night and with a meeting with Latvia set for Sunday evening in East Hartford, Conn., there was no way U.S. manager Bruce Arena could use his best players tonight. So defender Oguchi Onyewu was the only starter tonight who is a likely to be in the starting lineup June 12 when the Americans start play in the World Cup's Group E against the Czech Republic. The rest of tonight's opening 11 were out to show Arena they deserve playing time in Germany, so the energy level was considerably higher than it was against Morocco in Nashville.

Venezuela is not a very good team. It has never qualified for a World Cup and looked like a team that finished in eighth place in South American qualifying. Venezuela's one standout player, midfielder Juan Arango was forced to play mostly defense with the Americans pushing forward all evening.

The big difference for the U.S. tonight as compared to Tuesday was the space it was able to create for itself. Morocco used five defenders and four midfielders, jamming the midfield giving the U.S. little room to operate. Tonight, the Americans were able to find plenty of room, especially down the sides and U.S. players were able to run, often unmolested, deep into the attacking end.

This led to most of the play coming off the wings and little went down the middle. The quality of the U.S. crossing was much better tonight than on Tuesday, but that can be mostly credited to the lack of quality marking by Venezuela. The U.S. flank players had the time to pick out their targets as the sent the ball into the middle time after time.

Both U.S. goals were quite similar, first with Brian Ching in the 38th minute and then Clint Dempsey in the 73rd minute running from the midfield and scoring off crosses. A solid defensive team probably would have easily cleared the ball away before goals were scored, but Venezuela was far from solid in back and Ching and Dempsey were able to exploit that.

Several players tonight clearly enhanced their chances of getting playing time in Germany, especially midfielder Bobby Convey and defender Carlos Bocanegra. Bocanegra, who probably feels more comfortable as a central defender, showed he can play on the left side, a position he has played from time to time for Fulham in the English Premiership.

Convey was the main offensive threat for the U.S. during the first half and had a strong night crossing the ball. His pinpoint pass, just out of the goalkeeper's reach, allowed Ching to score the opening goal.

The U.S. played the final eight minute, plus stoppage time, a man down when Bocanegra was sent off for a second yellow card as Mexican referee Mauricio Morales struggled all night to keep control of the match, giving out a total of nine yellow cards, five to Venezuela.

Whereas the U.S. created few chances in Nashville, tonight it created chance after chance. One obvious criticism is they converted so few. At the international level, a team must capitalize on opportunities in meaningful matches and the U.S. did not tonight.

Still, the Americans came away with a good result. The second team got playing time and Arena got a good look at some players who he undoubtedly will have to call on at some time in Germany. Overall, it was a positive night for the U.S.

A correction: The analysis of Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Morocco said defensive midfielder Pablo Mastroeni had a fine match except he did not get back on the Moroccan goal. A number of readers pointed out that Mastroeni was back in time, but could only cover one player, the nearest Moroccan. A review of the videotape supports that opinion.


Player ratings

Starters

Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 5.5: Came up big the one time he was called upon. Did not look particularly sharp early, but otherwise had a good night.

Defender Chris Albright - 5.5: Was good enough, although he had a bit of trouble defensively from time to time. Did push forward well, though more of the play went down the other wing.

Defender Jimmy Conrad - 5.5: Was steady for most of the night, but was badly out-jumped on a late Vennezuela corner kick that was headed just wide. Was not put under much pressure so he was not able to really stand out.

Defender Oguchi Onyewu - 6.5: A tower of strength on the back-line, showing both good pace and resolve in the air. Went the full 90 minutes after playing deep into the match on Tuesday. A quality outing.

Defender Carlos Bocanegra - 6.5: Played very well and showed he can play the left side in Germany if called upon. A solid two-way effort. Made almost no defensive errors, while consistently pushing the ball up the wing. Did not deserve his second yellow card and ejection.

Midfielder Ben Olsen - 5.5: As usual, he played the role of the disrupter, using pace and physical play to break up the Venezuelan attack. This is why he is on the team and at key moments showed his value.

Midfielder Bobby Convey - 6.5: Went up and down the left wing all night sending in quality crosses, one after another. Overall, was the best U.S. player.

Midfielder Clint Dempsey - 5.5: His fine effort on the second goal redeemed what was otherwise a mixed performance. At times, he made some nice runs, but produced little from them. His effort was good, but the results were lacking.

Midfielder Josh Wolff - 5: Playing a more withdrawn role than usual, Wolff showed flashes of brilliance, as he often does, but had little to show for it, as has also become the norm. Has great difficulty finishing and tonight was no exception.

Forward Brian Ching - 5: Scored a goal, but muffed at least three other golden chances. The positive is he put himself in a position to score, but then he could not get the ball into the net. His goal, however, was the result of a fine physical effort.

Forward Eddie Johnson - 5.5: Made a terrific cross on Dempsey's goal; and must be given a lot of credit for that. Put in the effort, running hard all night, but really did not create enough good chances.

Reserves

Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (65th minute for Convey) - 5.5: Made some good plays on both ends, worked well with Donovan, but did not leave much of a mark on the match.

Midfielder Landon Donovan (66th minute for Wolff) - 6.5: Gave the U.S. a big lift when he came in. helped create the second goal and played very well over the final 25 minutes, at times dropping deep in defense.

Midfielder Eddie Lewis (83rd minute for Johnson ) - 5.5: Really was not in for long, but made one terrific defensive stop deep in his end, showing why he will likely be the starter at left back.

Midfielder Michael Bradley (89th minute for Ben Olsen) - no rating: The 19-year-old son of Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley is a non-roster player, given a few minutes to earn his first cap and as a reward for hard work on the training field.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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