Ben Olsen and Joe-Max Moore each scored as the U.S. national team battled to an inspirational 2-0 victory over Germany in the FIFA Confederations Cup. The win propels the Americans into the tournament's semifinals, where they will play host Mexico on Sunday (Aug. 1) at the famous Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
The U.S. took the field against Germany with a starting lineup that included one player (Matt McKeon) who had never before played for the United States and a further three (Brad Friedel, Marcelo Balboa and Paul Bravo) who had not appeared since before or during the 1998 World Cup. U.S. coach Bruce Arena cited several reasons, including injuries and the rigorous tournament schedule, for the wholesale lineup changes. Only Jeff Agoos and Frankie Hejduk started two nights ago in the USA's 1-0 loss to Brazil.
"My rationale [for the changes] was that I knew we could advance, but in order to play well in the semifinal on Sunday we couldn't afford to use the same players for three games in five days," said Arena. "We felt that this group could at least get one point and maybe even the victory, so we're obviously pleased with the outcome of the match."
The victory is the USA's second shutout win over Germany this year and further avenges the American's disappointing 2-0 loss to the three-time World Cup champions during France '98, a little more than a year ago. Earlier this year on Feb. 6, the U.S. defeated Germany 3-0 in Jacksonville, Fla.
The U.S. scored the winner on Ben Olsen's second-ever international goal in the 24th minute. The play began with the hard work by Frankie Hejduk on the right flank. Hejduk sped past a defender and whipped a right-footed cross into the area. Paul Bravo, making just his third U.S. appearance, controlled the ball and held off a defender before laying a pass into the path of Olsen, who touched past another defender before burying a shot past German keeper Jens Lehmann.
Maybe the most unheralded, yet important plays of the first half came after one minute of injury time. German captain Lothar Matthaus received a pass at the top of the penalty area on the left side and charged in towards the U.S. goal. Olsen, trailing the play, caught up to Matthaus and shouldered the German Footballer of the Year off the ball, preventing him from getting a clean shot on the U.S. goal.
The clinching goal came five minutes into the second half, with Joe-Max Moore registering his 20th career goal for the United States. After Bravo drew a foul at the top of the penalty area on the left side, Moore stepped up and slammed his right-footer over the German wall and into the top left corner of the goal. The goal proved to be justice for Moore, who on Wednesday evening had his game-tying penalty kick against Brazil saved.
The U.S. defense of Agoos, Marcelo Balboa, C.J. Brown and Hejduk did particularly well in stopping the German attack. And behind that back four was goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who wore the captain's armband today and made several good saves for the U.S.
The U.S. will face CONCACAF rival and tournament host Mexico on Sunday (Aug.1) at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The USA-Mexico rivalry dates back to 1934, with Mexico holding a large advantage in the head-to-head matchup. In 16 matches played between the two teams in Mexico City, Mexico has won all but one contest, but that 0-0 draw came on Nov. 2, 1997 during qualifications for World Cup France '98.
The U.S. team will train on Saturday morning in Guadalajara, before catching an afternoon flight to Mexico City.
July 30 in Guadalajara
USA 2 Germany 0. Goals: Olsen 24, Moore 50.
USA -- Friedel, Agoos, Balboa, Brown, Hejduk, McKeon, Williams, Lewis, Olsen (Stewart, 65), Moore (Kirovski, 83), Bravo (McBride, 77).
Germany -- Lehmann, Linke, Woerns, Matthaeus, Heinrich (Dogan, 42), Gerber (Maul, 75), Wosz, Schneider, Heldt (Rink, 60), Neuville, Preetz.
Yellow cards: USA -- Olsen 33, Hejduk 39, Agoos 47; Germany -- Gerber 60, Woerns 75, Matthaeus 81, Rink 90.
Referee: Gilberto Alcala (Mexico).
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