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  • World Cup television schedule.
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  • With stakes high, U.S. comes out flat and is thrashed by Czechs.

    U.S. men

    Koller, Rosicky lead Czechs to 3-0 World Cup rout of Americans.

    GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (Monday, June 12, 2006) -- The United States men suffered the worst possible outcome in their World Cup Group E opener this evening.

    The Czech Republic went ahead early with striker Jan Koller's goal in the fifth minute, then sealed the victory with a pair of tallies from midfielder Tomas Rosicky to soundly defeat the Americans 3-0 before 52,000 at Arena AufSchalke.

    The United States managed only one shot on goal, an attempt by reserve forward Eddie Johnson in the second half. The Czechs only put five shots on target, tehmselves, holding an overall edge in shot of 10-6.

    The setback makes clear the U.S.'s remaining mission -- defeat Italy Saturday and Ghana June 22 or go home. Elsewhere in Group E, Italy blanked Ghana 2-0 tonight. With the top two nations in each of the eight groups advancing to the knockout round, there is an unlikely scenario where the U.S. could advance with a victory and draw, but its minus-three goal differential means it will almost certainly lose any tiebreaker for second place. The Americans could even wind up heading home at 2-1, should it wind up in a three-way tie.

    "Now we have another game right away. We have to win," U.S. midfielder and captain Claudio Reyna said. "I think, with all due respect, (the Czech Republic is) probably the best team in our group. Italyís another tough team and itís going to be another tough game. We have to bounce back right away, put (tonight's) game behind us and learn from it really quick. We have a lot of guys who had their first game in a World Cup and I think they were a little bit nervous. Now there are no more excuses, we have to play better than that.

    Three U.S. players made their World Cup debuts -- staters Onyewu and left midfielder Bobby Convey, along with second-half substitute Johnson. In fact, the Americans' 12 players with World Cup experience are the second most in the tournament, trailing only Sweden.

    "We have to look forward now," Reyna added. "We have Italy, a great opportunity, as well, to bounce back and find out what weíre made of."

    Given the U.S. performance today, it would be hard to imagine the U.S. moving forward, but mananger Bruce Arena has four full days to get his team prepared for Italy. Statistics don't support the American cause either. Of the 23 teams who lost their first match in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups combined, only one -- Turkey in 2002 -- advanced into the Round of 16.

    "Well, we have to make sure that the Czech Republic doesnít beat us twice," Arena said of the need to quickly put aside memories of tonight's debacle. "We have to put this game behind us and prepare ourselves for Italy. Weíll, obviously, observe them this evening and try to put together a scouting report that gives our team a chance to win."

    The U.S. suffered a bad omen in the fourth minute when central defender Oguchi Onyewu earned a yellow card for a crude slide tackle that took down Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved as he advanced into the attacking third.

    A minute later, Czech right back Zdenek Grygera was the recipient of a long ball which he carried into the right corner, finding plenty of space since U.S. left defender Eddie Lewis had moved forward. American defensive midfielder Pablo Mastroeni could not get near to catching Grygera, giving him a wide-open cross to the near post. Koller, who gave defender Eddie Pope a slight shove, created enough room for the 6-foot-7 striker to drill a header from five yards out to the right of helpless goalkeeper Kasey Keller for a 1-0 lead.

    Onyewu was also within five yards of Koller, but failed to mark him.

    "I donít think we ever positioned ourselves to win this game, giving up a goal as early as we did," Arena said. "The Czech Republic took advantage of every play we offered them today, in terms of the attacking end of the field and had a pretty good success rate in getting three goals. Obviously, the first goal was big. To give that up in the first five minutes of the match put us really behind and allowed the Czech team to sit back and really counter at us. And they did a good job, to their credit. . . Our players played pretty hard, but didnít play well enough. The better team certainly won."

    For the want of six inches, the U.S. might have tied matters at 1-1 in the 28th minute and changed the entire complexion of the match. Reyna threaded the needle with a shot from 25 yards, beating keeper Peter Cech, but catching the left post.

    "I think in the first five minutes we didnít start off right. They got an early goal and unnerved us a bit," Reyna said. "Overall, in the first half, I thought we played well. They got their two chances and scored. We hit the post. In the second half, we made a few changes, tactically, and I think it really didnít work out for us. We needed to get more width and we couldnít get it in the second half. It was disappointing to lose 3-0, but the first goal really put us on our heels."

    Eight minutes later, the Czechs doubled their lead. Nedved received a pass and took it into the left corner before crossing into the middle. Onyewu weakly headed the ball straight out to Rosicky who sliced a right footer just inside the right post from 30 yards beyond the outstretched Keller for a 2-0 advantage. Onyewu would have been better served sending the ball out to a flank.

    In the 42nd minute, Onyewu took down Koller, who injured his right hamstring, an injury that forced him out and will cause him to miss at least Saturday's game against Ghana.

    "I thought we did a real good job on (Koller), except in the early minutes of the game," Arena said. "For the most part, I thought Onyewu and Pope did a pretty good job on Koller. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury and may miss the rest of the tournament, but I think for the most part we did well. Again, to me, the big play in the game was giving up the early goal."

    Rosicky tried to score again from distance, but caught the crossbar in the 68th minute. Eight minutes later, he ran onto a head pass, carried through a porous U.S. defense and shot over the advancing Keller to make it 3-0.

    The U.S. has an overall 6-15-2 record in World Cup play, 2-3-1 under Bruce Arena. The Americans are 0-0 against European opponents in World Cups competed in Europe.


    Czech Republic 3, United States 0

    Lineups: United States - Kasey Keller, Steve Cherundolo (Eddie Johnson 46), Eddie Pope, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Lewis, DaMarcus Beasley, Claudio Reyna, Pablo Mastroeni (John O'Brien 46), Bobby Convey, Landon Donovan, Brian McBride (Josh Wolff 77). Czech Republic - Petr Cech, Zdenek Grygera, Tomas Ujfalusi, David Rozehnal, Marek Jankulovski, Karel Poborksi (Jan Polak 82), Tomas Rosicky (Jiri Stajner 86), Tomas Galasek, Pavel Nedved, Jaroslav Plasil, Jan Koller (Vratislav Lokvenc 45).

    Scoring:
    Czech Republic - Koller (Grygera) 5.
    Czech Republic - Rosicky (unassisted) 36.
    Czech Republic - Rosicky (Nedved) 76.

    Scoring: Shots: United States 6, Czech Republic 10. Saves:Corner kicks: United States 2, Czech Republic 5. Fouls: United States 15, Czech Republic 19. Offside: United States 0, Czech Republic 9. Yellow card cautions: United States - Onyewu 5, Reyna 60; Czech Republic - Rozehal 16, Lokvenc 59, Rosicky 81, Grygera 88.

    Referee: Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay). Assistant referees: Amelia Andino (Paraguay), Manuel Berlan (Paraguay). Fourth official: Carlos Chandia (Chile). Attendance: 52,000 at Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Weather: 82 degrees, fair skies.

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