New England Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey scored the only goal of the match in the 48th minute easily heading home after club teammate Taylor Twellman did the hard work to force Poland's 'keeper into a mistake. The U.S. has now won two consecutive games on European soil with the last coming against Poland in 2004.
The temperature at kickoff was below freezing and slowly dropped during the match and the majority of the second half was played in heavy snow. Despite the conditions a large contingent of U.S. fans thanks to the proximity of the U.S. military's Ramstein Air Base turned the match into something of a home game for the Americans.
The USA got the better of the possession in the opening minutes but it wasn't long before the physical play of the Polish side took its toll. For long stretches of the first half U.S. players had little or no room to move once receiving the ball and repeatedly ceded possession in the middle of the field under challenge from the Poles.
The game's first scoring chance came on a Landon Donovan free kick from the right touchline in the 14th minute. The outswinger by the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder fell to the ground in the middle of a crowd at the edge of the goal box but none of the U.S. players in the vicinity could get a shot off before the ball was cleared.
At the other end Polish playmaker Miroslaw Szymkowiak led his side as they got their first good looks at goal. In the 15th minute Szymkowiak sent in a free kick that U.S. 'keeper Kasey Keller had to parry away from danger and two minutes later he collected a deflected cross at the top of the box and fired a shot that Keller held.
With the U.S. defense looking frazzled midway through the first stanza the Poles continued to push forward and if not for a brazen charge off the line by Keller they would have gone ahead in the 28th minute. Midfielder Jacek Krzynowek lofted a ball into the box for Euzebiuz Smolarek but Keller charged out to knock the ball away and then retreated back to his goal to smother a Krzynowek shot moments later.
Despite their subpar showing the Stars and Stripes nearly entered halftime with a lead. Just a minute before the break Dempsey was fouled 25 yards out; Steve Cherundolo's free kick had Polish 'keeper Jerzy Dudek beaten but it was a yard wide of the post.
Three minutes after halftime the U.S. got physical and were rewarded with the game's first goal. Defender Eddie Lewis sent in a cross and Twellman rose in the midst of two Polish defenders and substitute 'keeper Artur Boruc in a futile attempt to get his head on the ball. Still he caused enough of a disturbance to force Boruc to punch the ball off his head and the ball bounced to Dempsey who easily headed home.
The Poles had few scoring chances once the snow started to fall as the pace of the match slowed down considerable in the inclement weather and the United States sought to lock down the victory. In the 66th minute Krzynowek fired a free kick from the top right corner of the penalty area but U.S. substitute 'keeper Tim Howard saved it easily.
Krzynowek's effort was the last shot of the match for either team in the rapidly deteriorating conditions. The U.S. occasionally pushed forward through Donovan and second-half sub Bobby Convey but seemed content with the one-goal victory.
The United States will be back in action on March 22 against Germany at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund Germany. Kick-off for that match which will air live on ESPN2 and on delay on Telemundo is set for 12:25 p.m. MT.
Match-up: USA vs. Poland
Date: March 1 2006
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Fritz-Walter-Stadion – Kaiserslautern Germany
Kickoff: 8 p.m. local (12 p.m. MT)
Weather: Cold and snow 30 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
Poland 0 0 0
USA – Clint Dempsey (Taylor Twellman) 48th minute.
USA: 18-Kasey Keller (Capt.) (1-Tim Howard 46); 7-Eddie Lewis 3-Gregg Berhalter (4-Carlos Bocanegra 46) 22-Oguchi Onyewu 6-Steve Cherundolo; 17-DaMarcus Beasley (15-Bobby Convey 71) 5-Kerry Zavagnin (25-Pablo Mastroeni 55) 10-Landon Donovan 8-Clint Dempsey (11-Chris Klein 89); 13-Taylor Twellman 9-Eddie Johnson (16-Josh Wolff 79).
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector 20-Brian McBride.
Head Coach: Bruce Arena
POL: 1-Jerzy Dudek (12-Artur Boruc 46); 2-Mariusz Jop (20-Tomasz Klos 83) 4-Marcin Baszczynski 6-Jacek Bak (Capt.) 14-Michal Zewlakow (3-Tomasz Rzasa 72); 5-Arkadiusz Radomski (19-Radoslaw Sobolewski 80) 7-Euzebiuz Smolarek 8-Jacek Krzynowek 10-Miroslaw Szymkowiak; 9-Grzegorz Rasiak (16-Kamil Kosowski 61) 11-Tomasz Frankowski (17-Andrzej Niedzielan 61).
Subs not used: 13-Sebastian Mila 15-Piotr Giza 18-Mariusz Lewandowski.
Head Coach: Pawel Janas
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (caution) 58th minute.
POL – Mariusz Jop (caution) 79.
Referee: Thorston Kinhofer (GER)
1st Asst.: Mark Seemann (GER)
2nd Asst.: Rainer Werthmann (GER)
Fourth Official: Dr. Jochen Drees (GER)
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer or its clubs.