US Men Draw With Jamaica 1-1 In Last Match Before World Cup Roster is Announced

CARY N.C. (From USSoccer.com) — In the last game before U.S. Manager Bruce Arena announces his 2006 FIFA World Cup roster the U.S. Men’s National Team battled a youthful Jamaican team to a 1-1 draw in front of a sold-out crowd at SAS Soccer Park in Cary N.C.

The U.S. started slowly in their first-ever international match at SAS Soccer Park and Jamaica took a surprising lead when Teafore Bennett got behind the U.S. defense in the 4th minute. However a strike by Ben Olsen later in the half allowed the U.S. to stay undefeated all-time against Jamaica. The U.S. has now met Jamaica 17 times holding a 9-0-8 record against the Reggae Boyz.

Landon Donovan became the all-time assist leader in U.S. history by feeding Olsen on his goal surpassing Cobi Jones. Donovan has 23 in his seven-year career.

While the U.S. was the better team in the match and pushed for the game-winner in the second half the most important aspect of the game was the number of players fighting for a spot on Arena’s final 23-man roster for the 2006 World Cup. Arena will announce the United States’ final World Cup roster on Tuesday May 2 live at 4 p.m. MT on ESPN's SportsCenter and ussoccer.com.

"Obviously it was a very poor start on our part and I was disappointed about giving up a goal in the first four minutes said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena who has led the U.S. to a 4-1-2 record in 2006. "Give Jamaica credit they took advantage of that opportunity. On the night I thought they gave a great effort.

"We were able to use this game as an opportunity to see some players. I thought it was good that we got a chance to see our players have to come from behind. I thought we responded well from the 25th minute on. In the second half we had most of the game. We put the Jamaicans on their heels but we were not clean in trying to break them down with the last pass.

"It has been a really good 2006 in our chances to evaluate our domestic players. Tonight and the next three weeks MLS games will certainly allow me to make some good decisions in terms of rounding out our roster."

The USA’s meeting with Jamaica came just under a month before the team begins to use the Cary facility as their base training camp prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The team will begin final preparations for Germany on May 10 in Cary and will train for approximately two weeks at the facility before kicking off the three game Send-Off Series.

The Send-Off Series starts against Morocco at The Coliseum in Nashville Tenn. on May 23 in a game being presented by Budweiser before continuing vs. Venezuela at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland Ohio on May 26 (presented by Sierra Mist) and concluding vs. Latvia at Rentschler Field in East Hartford Conn. on May 28 (presented by Hyundai). Tickets for all three matches of the Send-Off Series are now available at ussoccer.com.

With his start in goal Tony Meola became just the ninth player and first goalkeeper in U.S. Men’s National Team history to hit the 100-cap plateau. Following is a list of most appearances for the national team by U.S. goalkeepers: Meola 99; Kasey Keller 91; Brad Friedel 82 Arnie Mausser 35; Mark Dodd and Tim Howard 15.

Meola made his first appearance for the USA against Ecuador on June 7 1988 exactly 17 years and 308 days ago. That career span is now the longest in U.S. MNT history. Before the match Meola sat down with ussoccer.com for an exclusive all_access video interview and podcast to discuss his illustrious career.

"Tonight for me was just a great night said Meola. "I did it with a great group of guys that really appreciated it - the first 99 as much as they appreciated tonight. They let me know about it all week. We joked a lot about it. Apparently I'm 67 years old instead of 37 according to them and 1988 was 100 years ago not 18. It was great. I am just so happy that I was able to be part of it."

After putting some pressure on Jamaica early on the Reggae Boyz surprised the U.S. backline to score in the 4th minute. Ricketts controlled a header back by a defender and quickly tossed the ball out wide left for Jermaine Hue. From the midfield stripe the Kansas City Wizards midfielder played a darting ball through on the left side for Teafore Bennett who made an excellent diagonal run right behind an unsuspecting Frankie Hejduk. As Meola came out toward the corner of the six-yard box Bennett did well to slot it past the ‘keeper low into the right side netting.

A quick restart by Donovan in the 25th minute provided the U.S. with the equalizer and pushed him to the top of the all-time assist list in U.S. history. Pat Noonan was fouled along the left sideline and Donovan quickly took the free kick pushing it on to his right for Olsen. With space in front of him Olsen took two touches to get into the penalty area before unleashing a low left-footed strike that a screened Ricketts got his hands to it but couldn’t keep out of the net.

In the second half the U.S. tried to add some firepower by switching out the forwards with Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching but Jamaica once again was the early aggressor. Two minutes in Ryan Johnson got a foot to a long ball from the right flank at the six-yard box but skied his attempt from point-blank range.

The best two chances for the U.S. in the second half came from the head of Chris Albright who scored a header for the L.A. Galaxy this past weekend. In the 54th minute Albright re-directed a Donovan cross from the spot but Ricketts did well to parry the ball over the bar. Ricketts robbed Albright once again this time in the 75th minute as he stretched out to deflect the defender’s header that appeared destined for the lower left corner.

Jamaica had one final opportunity in the 84th minute when John O’Brien gave the ball away near midfield. Newton Sterling picked off his poor pass to Hejduk and raced up the field before unleashing a drive that went just wide left.

The USA was drawn into Group E for the 2006 FIFA World Cup along with the Czech Republic Italy and Ghana. The U.S. plays their opening match against the Czechs on June 12 in Gelsenkirchen before meeting Italy and then finishing off group play against Ghana on June 22 in Nuremberg. The U.S. has chosen the northern port city of Hamburg as their base of operations throughout the tournament.

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --

USA vs. Jamaica
Date: April 11 2006
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: SAS Soccer Park – Cary N.C.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: 8093
Weather: Warm 67 degrees

Scoring Summary:
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
JAM 1 0 1

JAM – Teafore Bennett (Jermaine Hue) 4th minute
USA – Ben Olsen (Landon Donovan) 25.

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tony Meola; 4-Chris Albright 23-Eddie Pope 2-Frankie Hejduk 19-Steve Ralston (8-Clint Dempsey 55) 14-Ben Olsen 25-Pablo Mastroeni 10-Landon Donovan 13-Pat Noonan (5-John Obrien 67); 16-Josh Wolff (8-Eddie Johnson 46) 20-Taylor Twellman (11-Brian Ching 46).
Subs not used: 3-Nick Garcia 6-Kerry Zavagnin 24-Matt Reis
Manager: Bruce Arena

JAM: 30-Donovan Ricketts; 25-Claude Davis (5-Demar Stewart 29) 19-Garfield Reid 16-Omar Daley 3-Damion Stewart; 7-Jason Morrison (14-Dane Richards 59) 8-Jamal Campbell-Ryce (9-Fabian Dawkins 61) 17-Jermaine Hue 18-Khari Stephenson (20-Oneil Thompson 71); 6-Ryan Johnson (12-Jermaine Johnson 71) 15-Teafore Bennett (21-Newton Sterling 62).
Subs not used: 13-Shawn Sawyers
Head Coach: Wendell Downswell

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Eddie Pope (caution) 28th minute
JAM – Omar Daley (caution) 34.
JAM – Garfield Reid (caution) 74.

Officials:
Referee: Jorge Gasso Flores (MEX)
1st Asst.: Pedro Rebollar Leon (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Jose Luis Camargo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar (USA)

Man of the Match: Ben Olsen