January 27, 2006

U.S. MNT Opens 2006 Schedule with 0-0 Draw vs. Canada

The U.S. Men’s National Team opened up their 2006 campaign with a tough 0-0 draw against Canada on Sunday evening at Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus.

“I thought it was a pretty even game,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena, who is preparing the U.S. for a World Cup for the second time since he took over the team in 1998. “I thought the Canadian team played quite well, and they made it difficult on us all night. You have to give them a lot of credit. There were a few chances for both [teams] and no one was obviously able to capitalize, but I think a draw was a fair result.”

Preparations for the 2006 FIFA World Cup continue next week when the U.S. takes on Norway at The Home Depot Center on Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. on ESPN2 and Telemundo.

With the lack of goals for either side, the story line of the match turned to two players – Matt Reis and Freddy Adu – who collected their first-ever caps for the U.S. MNT. Reis was solid in his first appearance in the net with the national team, coming up with two saves on the night to become just the eighth ‘keeper in U.S. history to earn a shutout in his first cap.

Adu, who came on for an injured Eddie Johnson in the 81st minute, became the youngest player to ever take the field with the U.S. MNT at 16 years, 234 days. Adu had replaced Johnson when the forward went down with a right calf contusion.

Adu only touched the ball a handful of times during the match, but his first touch was probably the most memorable. Collecting the ball near the top left corner of the penalty area, Adu tried to beat defender Adam Braz. After touching the ball by Braz, there was some contact as Adu tried to slip by the defender but fell to the ground. The crowd roared in the hopes of a penalty, but the referee showed the youngster a yellow card for diving.

“I was very excited, I wasn’t nervous,” said Adu, who has now played international matches with three men’s national teams (U-17, U-20 and MNT). “I just got out there and played my game. The guys have been awesome to me the last three weeks. I got out there and just tried to help the team out. We didn’t pull out the win, but it’s a good first step. We know where we stand now and are going to go back and work hard to try to get ready for Norway.”

Defender Heath Pearce picked up his first start with the U.S. MNT in just his second appearance, while Chris Rolfe also made his second appearance when he came on as a reserve in the second half. Both players had earned their first cap during the USA’s last match in 2005 against Scotland.

The only other notable move in the U.S. lineup was when Chris Klein replaced Frankie Hejduk at right back to start the second half. Klein, who usually plays as a right-sided attacking midfielder, got his first cap as a defender.

The U.S. and Canada combined for 19 shots on the night, but neither team really tested the opposing goalkeeper as most of the strikes failed to find their target.

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