SAN JOSE, Calif. (Saturday, June 2, 2007) -- An inexperienced United States men's team rolled over a patched-together China side 4-1 tonight before 20,821 at Spartan Stadium.
Midfielders DaMarcus Beasley, the most experienced U.S. field player with 62 international appearances, and Benny Feilhaber, earning his third cap, scored in the first half and then each posted an assist of second-half scoring headers from midfielder Clint Dempsey and defender Oguchi Onyewu. The U.S. is now 4-0-1 this year and under coach Bob Bradley, who was hired on an interim basis in December and promoted to full-time status prior to this match.
China was missing as many as six projected starters who were participating in an Asian club championship tournament.
Both the Americans and Chinese were frustrated by the close quarters in Spartan Stadium, which is an abbreviated 70 yards wide and 106 yards long. Bradley chose to look at the positives beyond a surprisingly easy triumph. "I think that we got a lot out of this game," he said. "Any time you play on this field in San Jose, the fact that it is a little smaller sharpens up a lot of things. Generally, I felt that there were a lot of good efforts. It is good for us, going into the Gold Cup, to get a game like this under our belts."
The Americans begin defense of their 2005 Gold Cup championship Thursday against Guatemala at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
After an early exchange of goals, the U.S. went ahead for good on Feilhaber's first international goal, the product of a beautiful combination with his former U.S. under-20 men's teammate Sacha Kljestan. Dempsey fed his midfield mate on the right flank and then Kljestan found Feilhaber sprinting into the right side of the penalty area. Feilhaber looped the bouncing ball over charging goalkeeper Chen Dong toward the far corner of the net. Retreating defender Zhang Yaokun, making a desperate attempt to keep the game tied, managed to get his right foot on the ball, but could not keep it out of the net as the Americans went up 2-1.
"Sasha just sent me through," Feilhaber said. "At first, the goalkeeper hesitated and I wanted him to come out. I even slowed down a little bit to see if he would come out. The ball started bouncing a little bit further away, skipped off the grass and on the second touch it sat up a bit. I figured that I would put the ball over the top. I was just hoping that the defender was not going to get there before the ball crossed the line."
Dempsey gained a modicum of redemption in the 75th minute when he slipped his marker and headed home a corner kick from Feilhaber to increase the U.S advantage to 3-1. Twice in the 10 minutes before the tally, Dempsey had great chances in the Chinese box, only to be denied by fine saves by Chen.
In the 79th minute, Beasley sent a free kick to Onyewu, who crushed a header past Chen from seven yards for a 4-1 margin.
The U.S. jumped ahead 1-0 in the 10th minute when Beasley successfully converted his first penalty kick in international competition. Sent free by an accurate pass by Michael Bradley, the coach's son, Beasley was about to go around Chen when the goalkeeper fell to his right and knocked Beasley's legs out from under him.
With Chen, who was issued a yellow card, cheating to his right, Beasley drove the subsequent penalty kick behind him for his 13th career goal in his 63rd game. Only Kasey Keller, who earned his 98th cap when he relieved Tim Howard in goal after intermission, has more international appearances on this U.S. team. Keller, all-time U.S. leader with 51 victories and 46 shutouts, hopes to soon become the 10th American to reach the 100-caps milestone.
China exploited sloppy American defending to equalize 1-1 five minutes later. Zhang, the center back, pounced on a loose ball in the U.S. box and drilled a shot from 11 yards out into the top left corner of the net. After the U.S. failed to properly clear a ball, midfielder Dong Fangzhuo shot a ball that was destine to go wide, but forward Wang Peng made a stab at the ball and settled it for Zhang to rip past Howard.
Bradley used all six of his subs, which allowed Kljestan, a starter, Kamani Hill, his replacement, as well as reserve forward Charlie Davies and midfielder Lee Nguyen to make their first international appearances.
"What we've tried to do is make sure that there are a group of guys who are ready to take bigger roles in this team. . . guys who are ready to step up to set the tone all the time," Bradley said. "It has been really nice in every camp to see more and more guys joining that group."
After opening Group B in the Gold Cup with Guatemala on Thursday, the Americans remain at The Home Depot Center Saturday to face Trinidad & Tobago. Group play concludes June 12 with a match against El Salvador at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
The Gold Cup title match is slated for June 24 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Two days later, Copa America commences with the U.S. opener against Argentina June 28. Group C matches against Paraguay (July 2) and Colombia (July 5) follow.
Notes: The U.S. has scored 12 goals in five matches under Bradley, including a 0-0 draw with Guatemala in its last outing on March 28.
Bocanegra went the entire 90 minutes as the U.S. captain, the fourth player to don the captain's armband under Bradley.
"Carlos is a player who, for sure, has earned the respect of all his teammates with his commitment to the game," Bradley said. "He plays hard. He talks. He organizes. Going forward, he is a key guy in what we are doing. At the same time, (the captain) could have been Tim Howard. It could have been Oguchi Onyewu. More and more, I am very pleased with the way DaMarcus has stepped up. We will think about the part of who gets it permanently as we more forward. But for right now, it is very important just to see a group of guys feeling that this next cycle is in their hands."
United States 4, China 1
Lineups: United States - Tim Howard (Kasey Keller 46); Jonathan Spector (Frank Simek 74), Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra (captain), Jonathan Bornstein; Sacha Kljestan (Kamani Hill, 74), Benny Feilhaber (Jesse Marsch 80), Michael Bradley; Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley (Lee Nguyen 80), Ante Razov (Charlie Davies 66). China - Chen Dong, Zhang Shuai, Zhang Yaokun, Xu Yunlong, Sun Xiang, Dong Fangzhuo (Zheng Bin 67), Li Tie (Li Yan 76), Zhao Xuri (Du Wenhui 89), Wang Dong, Shao Jiayi (captain), Wang Peng (Qu Bo 59)
United States - Beasley (penalty kick) 10.
China - Zhang Y. (Wang P.) 15.
United States - Feilhaber (Kljestan) 28.
United States - Dempsey (Feilhaber) 75.
United States - Onyewu (Beasley) 79.
Shots: United States 10, China 6.
Saves: United States 2, China 4.
Corner kicks: United States 4, China 4.
Fouls: United States 18, China 11.
Offside: United States 8, China 3.
Yellow card cautions: United States - Bradley 81; Chen 9.
Referee: Hugo Guajardo (Mexico).
Assistant referees: Arturo Velasquez (Mexico), Alfonso Horcasitas (Mexico).
Fourth official: Brian Hall (United States).
Attendance: 20,821 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif.
Weather: 65 degrees, blue skies
The U.S. roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup June 6-24:
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Chivas USA, Major League Soccer), Tim Howard (Everton FC, England), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany).
Defenders (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC, England), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA. MLS), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC, England), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew, MLS), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege, Belgium), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution, MLS), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday, England), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United, England).
Midfielders (8): DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen, Netherlands), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC, England), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburger SV, Germany), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire, MLS), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids, MLS), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution, MLS)
Forwards (4): Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards, MLS), Taylor Twellman (New England, MLS).
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