USA Defeats Latvia in Final Tune-Up Before 2006 World Cup

EAST HARTFORD Conn. (From USSoccer.com) — In their final match of the three-game Send-Off Series before the 2006 FIFA World Cup the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Latvia 1-0 in front of 24636 fans at Rentschler Field in East Hartford Conn. Brian McBride led the way for the U.S. scoring his 30th international goal for the U.S. late in the first half.

The celebration in East Hartford culminated 20 days of preparation for the U.S. which began for the team back on May 10 in Cary N.C. and continued through games this week in Nashville Tenn. and Cleveland Ohio. The U.S. players now have three days off and will reconvene in New York City on Thursday (June 1) for their trip to Germany on a Lufthansa Business Jet aircraft.

"I’m happy with the win said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. "I think this week our three opponents played us quite well. I think we were pushed to our limits physically with the awkward calendar. The games made it real tough on our team. And today to have two players almost play 90 minutes and having them play it on Friday is pretty remarkable."

The U.S. goal came in the 43rd minute off the head of McBride finishing a perfect cross from the right flank from defender Steve Cherundolo. The play began with Landon Donovan working the ball into the middle of the field and finding Cherundolo open on the wing.

McBride’s 30th career goal puts him just four behind Eric Wynalda for the all-time U.S. lead and came after an early knock to the forehead that saw a large golf-ball sized welt quickly develop. The goal also came just five minutes after McBride was denied by Latvian goalkeeper Aleksandrs Kolinko on a bouncing header in the area.

Kolinko made several good saves during the game including a 29th minute parry of a Donovan header that looked to be going into the upper right corner of the goal. In the 72nd minute Johnson directed a glancing header on a pass from DaMarcus Beasley toward goal that Kolinko did well to grab and control with a two-handed save.

"I was pretty thankful it didn't cut open said McBride about the welt after the game. "Right now we are going to enjoy this game and go home and see our families and enjoy our time off. The things we need to build on (in Germany) are our overall movement of the ball and when we are tired we need to keep our shape a little bit and pass the ball a little bit better. But we've been getting some great crosses into the box and that has made all the difference (in the last two games)."

Defensively the U.S. backline of Steve Cherundolo Eddie Pope Jimmy Conrad and Eddie Lewis each played the full 90 minutes in front of goalkeeper Kasey Keller who earned his 45th shutout in his 93rd international appearance.

Overall the game was a physical one for the Latvians who held back most of the game and tried to stymie the U.S. attack with 16 first-half fouls and 24 total for the game.

"The friendlies are past us and next time we’re together as a team is in Germany where our complete focus will be on preparing our team for the Czech Republic added Arena. "We’ll be ready for it. I think we’re moving along according to schedule. All the talking is done. We’ll have to step on the field June 12 and show what we’re about."

The USA’s World Cup journey in Group E begins against the Czech Republic on June 12 in Gelsenkirchen. The team then meets Italy on June 17 in Kaiserslautern before finishing off group play against Ghana on June 22 in Nuremberg. The U.S. will be based in the northern port city of Hamburg throughout the tournament.

The United States took the field in Sunday's game in a red limited edition "Don't Tread on Me" Nike jersey. The kits will only be worn one time and will be auctioned off for charity at ussoccer.com. Fans can also purchase the special jersey which features a classic diagonal sash across the chest and a "Don't Tread" snake logo on the sleeve at ussoccerstore.com.

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

Match-up: USA vs. Latvia
Date: May 28 2006
Competition: Send-Off Series
Venue: Rentschler Field – East Hartford Connecticut
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: 24636
Weather: 77 degrees cloudy

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

GOALS:
USA – Brian McBride (Steve Cherundolo) 43rd minute.

Lineups:

USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 6-Steve Cherundolo 23-Eddie Pope 13-Jimmy Conrad 7-Eddie Lewis; 4-Pablo Mastroeni (24-Michael Bradley 83) 17-DaMarcus Beasley 5-John O’Brien (15-Bobby Convey 66) 21-Landon Donovan (capt.); 20-Brian McBride 9-Eddie Johnson (11-Brian Ching 83)
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard 2-Chris Albright 12-Gregg Berhalter 14-Ben Olsen 16-Josh Wolff 19-Marcus Hahnemann 22-Oguchi Onyewu
Head Coach: Bruce Arena

LVA: 1-Aleksandrs Koïinko; 4-Dzintars Zirnis 14-Mâris Smirnovs 17-Oskars Kïava 6-Deniss Ivanovs; 3-Vitâlijs Astafjevs 5-Juris Laizâns (13-Aleksejs Visòakovs 70) 10-Andrejs Rubins (19-Gatis Kalniòð 83) 15-Genâdijs Soloòicins (8-Viktors Morozs 46); 9-Mâris Verpakovskis 11-Andrejs Prohorenkovs (20-Ìirts Karlsons 46)
Subs not used: 2-Artûrs Zakreðevskis 7-Aleksandrs Isakovs 12-Andrejs Piedels 18-Kristaps Blanks
Head Coach: Juris Andrejevs

Misconduct Summary:
LVA – Soloòicins (caution) 10th minute.
LVA – Prohorenkovs (caution) 29.
LVA – Laizâns (caution) 57.

Officials:
Referee: Steven Dipiero (CAN)
1st Asst.: Simon Fearn (CAN)
2nd Asst.: Neil Scofield (CAN)
Fourth Official: Alex Prus (USA)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Brian McBride