WORLD CUP WATCH: USA-Venezuela Report Card

By Mike Woitalla, Soccer America

The USA ended its three-game winless streak with a 2-0 victory over Venezuela highlighted by Bobby Convey's performance on the left wing.

In the Americans' penultimate game of their pre-World Cup ''Sendoff Series,'' the 22-year-old Convey set up the opening goal with a precise, low cross that Brian Ching stabbed into the net for his fourth goal in 19 U.S. games. Also, Convey's dazzling dribbling through Venezuela's defense provided the bulk of the entertainment for the Cleveland crowd of 29,745 while reviving a U.S. attack that had looked woeful in its last three outings.

Coach Bruce Arena started only two players, Oguchi Onyewu and Josh Wolff, who started in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Morocco. Cory Gibbs, who started at left back against Morocco but has since been scratched from the World Cup roster because of a knee injury, was replaced by Carlos Bocanegra.

Bocanegra received a yellow card in the first half when he lagged on a Venezuela counterattack and resorted to a trip from behind. He was ejected late in the game for elbowing Hector Gonzalez in the head while trying to win an aerial duel outside the Venezuelan penalty area.

Venezuela, which finished seventh in South America's 10-team qualifying group for the 2006 finals, is the only South American team that has never qualified for a World Cup. It forced just one difficult save from U.S. keeper Tim Howard.

The Americans rarely tested Venezuelan keeper Javier Toyo and forward Eddie Johnson would have had a disappointing day were it not for a fine chipped cross that Clint Dempsey scored on with a diving header. Landon Donovan, a 65th-minute sub, sparked the sequence with a foray toward the penalty area before feeding Johnson.

Behind the starting frontline of Ching and Johnson, Josh Wolff played the attacking midfielder role, in front of defensive midfielder Ben Olsen and flanked by Convey and Dempsey, who, besides notching his fifth U.S. goal, pierced the Venezuelan defense on a few occasions.

Oneywu was partnered in the central defense by Jimmy Conrad, who wore the captain's band while Claudio Reyna nursed his sore hamstring on the sideline. Chris Albright played at right back.

Michael Bradley, a 19-year-old who is not on the World Cup roster and made one appearance for Dutch First Division club Heerenveen last season, made his national team debut, coming on as an 89th minute sub.

The USA faces Latvia in East Hartford, Conn., on Sunday (TV: 7 pm ET/4 pm PT on ESPN2.)

USA 2 Venezuela 0

May 26, 2006 in Cleveland, Ohio

(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)


5 Tim Howard (Everton/ENG, 16)
5 Chris Albright (Los Angeles, 20)
6 Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege/BEL, 14)
6 Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City, 14)
3 Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham/ENG, 40)
7 Clint Dempsey (New England, 21)
5 Ben Olsen (D.C. United, 34)
6 Josh Wolff (Kansas City, 47)
8 Bobby Convey (Reading/ENG, 38)
6 Eddie Johnson (Kansas City, 17)
7 Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo, 19)
5 DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven/NED, 57)
7 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles, 80)
NR Eddie Lewis (Leeds/ENG, 69)
NR Michael Bradley (Heerenveen/NED, 1)

May 26 in Cleveland, Ohio
USA 2 Venezuela 0

Goals: Brian Ching (Bobby Convey) 36, Clint Dempsey (Eddie Johnson) 69.

USA - Tim Howard, Chris Albright, Oguchi Onyewu, Jimmy Conrad, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Ben Olsen (Michael Bradley, 89), Josh Wolff (Landon Donovan, 66), Bobby Convey (DaMarcus Beasley, 65), Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson (Eddie Lewis, 83)

Venezuela - Javier Toyo, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Alejandro Cichero (Gabriel Cichero, 65), Hector Gonzalez, Jorge Rojas (Jonay Hernandez, 70), Leonel Vielma (Edgard Jiminez, 46), Miguel Mea (Pedro Fernandez, 46), Ricardo Paez, Alejandro Guerra (Jesus Gomez, 56), Jose Torrealba (Giancarlo Maldonado, 57), Juan Arango.

Stats: USA-VEN
Shots: 8-8
Saves: 3-2
Corner Kicks: 7-9
Fouls: 16-19
Offside: 3-6

Yellow cards:
Olsen 38, Bocanegra 45, Albright 63, Beasley 80, Bocanegra 82.
VEN - Paez 38, Arango 53, Cichero 56, Gomez 58.

Red cards:
Bocanegra 82.
VEN - none.

Att.: 29,745

Referee: Mauricio Morales Valle (MEX)
1st Asst.: Arturo Velasquez (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Ramon Muniz Lazcano (MEX)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar (USA)

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