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

With stakes high, U.S. comes out flat and is thrashed by Czechs.

With stakes high, U.S. comes out flat and is thrashed by Czechs.

Visit to Hamburg City Hall follows easy day of training.

Americans again have trouble scoring, but McBride finishes Latvia.

U.S. reserves have little difficulty in disposing of Venezuela.

Knee injury shelves Gibbs, Berhalter joins World Cup effort; Reyna appears OK.

Americans have causes for concern after loss to Morocco.

Reyna, Keller are each named to their fourth World Cup team.

Poor U.S. effort leads to disappointing 1-1 draw with Jamaica.

Donovan becomes leader in career assists as U.S. draws 1-1 with Jamaica.

U.S. defense collapses, Germany hands rout to depleted Americans.

Hejduk has strained hamstring, is replaced by Feilhaber on roster for Germany match.

Donovan scratched for game against Germany with calf ailment.

Dempsey dropped from Germany roster after suspension by Revs for fight.

Gulati is acclaimed new USSF president; board size is slashed.

Three games in May are scheduled as final World Cup prep.

U.S. game against Jamaica in Cary, N.C., sells out quickly.

Twellman's hustle sets up Dempsey's opportunistic header to beat Poland 1-0.

U.S. victory over Poland is welcome, but not particularly satisfying.

Arena selections for Poland game give hints of World Cup roster.

X-rays of Pope's hand are negative; he will face Italy.

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  • World Cup television schedule.
  • World Cup standings, schedule, results.
  • Without a shot on goal, Americans manage 1-1 World Cup draw with Italy.


    U.S. World Cup hopes get boost from heroic 1-1 draw with Italy.

    By Robert Wagman

    KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (Saturday, June 17, 2006) -- In one of the most emotional and exhausting matches the United States men ever played, the Americans, reduced to nine men and down a man for virtually the whole second half, held on for a 1-1 draw tonight with Italy, a result that kept alive U.S hopes for advancement from Group E of the World Cup.

    The top two nations in each of eight groups move on to the Round of 16. The U.S. (0-1-1, 1 point), which still would have been alive, if barely, with a loss to Italy, must win Thursday or the World Cup is over for the Red, White and Blue. Following Ghana's 2-0 upset of the Czech Republic tonight, the U.S. will move to the second round if it can defeat Ghana (1-1, 3) Thursday afternoon while, in a simultaneous group finale, Italy (1-0-1, 4) defeats the Czechs (1-1, 3).

    The Americans can also wind up tied with either the Italians or Czechs for second place in other scenarios, but then advancement would be dependent on goal differential, a shaky proposition since the U.S. is currently four behind the Czech Republic and five behind Italy in that category.

    The U.S. dominated the first half, but was fortunate to come out level at 1-1, the beneficiary of an own goal. Against the run of play, Italy took advantage of an American mistake to score off a set play in the 22nd minute, only to give back the lead five minutes later when defender Cristian Zaccardo mis-kicked Bobby Convey's cross into his own net.

    The U.S could not take advantage of 17 minutes when it was a man up, then saw midfielder Pablo Mastroeni sent off with a red card for a clumsy, two-footed slide tackle in the 45th minute and Eddie Pope banished two minutes after intermission for a second yellow card following a bad tackle.

    With both sides shorthanded, players from both sides were so exhausted they could barely walk off the field at the end.

    "I thought we had the better team on the night," U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena said. "Not many teams would have held their composure. The way our team held together was fantastic."

    The U.S. knew that Ghana had won before taking the field for warm-ups which meant the Americans could not be eliminated, regardless of their result, and a draw carried more value. Had the Czech and Italians won today, the U.S. and Ghana were done.

    The U.S. was passionless in losing 3-0 to the Czech Republic Monday. From the opening whistle tonight, the Americans were much more organized and aggressive, hustling to every ball and pushing forward, leaving the Italians back on their heels.

    The U.S.'s specific defensive challenge was to shut down Italy's potent forward tandem of Luca Toni and Alberto Gilardino, without leaving itself vulnerable to the Azzurri's talented midfielders, especially Andrea Pirlo and the revived Francesco Totti, who has returned an ankle injury. Ghana learned the hard way in a 2-0 loss Monday clamping down on Toni and Gilardino alone was not enough.

    Pope was to mark Gilardino and his fellow central defender Oguchi Onyewu was tasked with keeping Toni in check. All of the five U.S. midfielders (in the 4-5-1), led by Mastroeni dropped back to mark Italian midfielder joining the attack.

    Italy capitalized on Pope's mental mistake for a lead in the 22nd minute. On Zaccardo's free kick, he let Gilardino go, apparently trying for an offside trap, but his defensive mates did not join him stepping up. Unmarked, Gilardino tucked a diving header into the left corner of the net.

    "I had him offside, but others moved on top and kept him on," Pope said. "It was very close."

    When Daniele DeRossi was sent off for his flagrant elbow to Brian McBride's face in the 28th minute, the U.S. was not able to take advantage of the space that opened. The edge disappeared in the 45th minute when Mastroeni was sent off for a late, poorly-timed, two-footed tackle with studs up, catching Pirlo's ankles.

    Gilardino was also the victim of the foul when Pope slid in with a tackle from behind in the 47th minute, earning the American his second yellow and a trip to the showers. "I was shocked," Pope said. "I thought the yellow was harsh, especially since it was my second."

    Arena said he could not remember coaching in a match where two of his players were red carded. "Two red cards in five minutes is pretty harsh," he said. "Playing 10 on nine in the World Cup is not exactly something you can prepare for."

    From that point, the Italians vainly tried to take advantage of their extra man, unable to create a last pass through the U.S. defense. Their best opportunities came from Alessandro del Piero, but U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller stopped his point-blank volley from the left side of the box in the 73rd minute and parried away a laced, long-range drive six minutes later.

    "Those guys bled for their country tonight," Keller said of his teammates. "I was just glad I was there to help out."

    They were the only two saves Keller made, while his counterpart Gianluigi Buffon made none. The U.S. could not manage a shot on frame and only have one through two World Cup matches.

    U.S. midfield, led by Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna, was dominant through the game, at least until it got into the attacking third. In the first half, it created chances against one of the world's stingiest defenses, then the Americans turned in an amazing defensive effort of their own while trying to kill off their manpower deficit.

    Arena promised lineup changes after the moribund effort in the loss to the Czech Republic. Tonight, Carlos Boacanegra replaced Eddie Lewis, a natural midfielder who had a rough outing against the Czechs, on the left side of defense, while Clint Dempsey took over at right midfield, in place of an ineffective DaMarcus Beasley, a natural left-footer.

    When Dempsey ran out of gas, Beasley took over in the 62nd minute and he was instrumental in the effort over the final 10 minutes.

    "I thought that Reyna, Beasley and Donovan were sensational in the midfield," Arena said "I thought that Donovan showed he is the kind of player we have always thought he was."

    McBride took three stitches in the cut that was opened by DeRossi's elbow. Jimmy Conrad, who came in when the U.S. went down to nine players, suffered a broken nose in the final few minutes.

    The U.S. will be without Pope and Mastroeni against Ghana, both suspended for their red cards. Ghana will be without both goal scorers from today's victory -- Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari both will sit for yellow card accumulation after each received their second caution.

    "You'll see the same level of effort we showed tonight." Arena promised of his team

    U.S. player ratings


    Goalkeeper Kasey Keller - 7.5: Was active patrolling his area and kept the U.S. World Cup hopes alive with a pair of great late saves on Allessandro del Piero.

    Defender Steve Cherundolo 6: Strong defensively both offensively and made a number of saving tackles down the stretch.

    Defender Eddie Pope - 5: Played well, but also made mistakes that cost the Americans dearly. He lost his mark on Italy's goal and was expelled in the 47th minute for an unnecessary tackle. Perhaps the decision to send him off was harsh, but he already had a yellow card and, as a veteran, should have known better than to tempt fate.

    Defender Oguchi Onyewu - 7.5: His effort to help shut down two of the world's best strikers helpeped gain redemption for his culpability in all three Czech goals Monday. Was a tower of strength for 93 minutes.

    Defender Carlos Bocanegra 6: Getting a start after not playing against the Czsechs, he produced a solid two-way effort.

    Midfielder Pablo Mastroeni - 5: Played with energy, but was lacking in skill. Then made an ill considered challenge that earned him a red card.

    Midfielder Bobby Convey - 6: Played a terrific match, before coming out for a defender. Pushed forward frequently and took on defenders, though his crosses into the box could have been better. His free kick led to tying own goal.

    Midfielder Claudio Reyna 7.5 : Over the final 20 minutes, he turned in one of the most outstanding U.S. defensive efforts in memory. Held the U.S. midfield together under tremendous pressure. A memorable effort.

    Midfielder Clint Dempsey - 6: Ran himself into exhaustion, the attack from the right flank something that was missing on the drubbing by the Czechs Monday.

    Forward Landon Donovan - 7.5: Looked like a completely different player than the one who played Monday, running well and continually taking the attack to the Italians.

    Forward Brian McBride - 6.5: Despite suffering a gash that required three stitches, battled fiercely up top and made a sterling defensive effort at the end, key to the U.S. result. A terrific two-way job.


    Defender Jimmy Conrad (52nd minute for Convey) - 6.5: Thrown into a highly charged and unusual situation, he responded with a great physical effort and was a rock down the stretch.

    Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (62nd minute for Dempsey) 6: His fresh legs were critical to the U.S. ability to hold off the Italians over the final 20 minutes.

    Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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