U.S. shut out Colombia in California

goalkeeper Jon Busch, defenders Marshall, Ritchie Kotschau and Brian Mullan, and midfielders Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan -- each made their first starts with the full national team, with Busch, Kotschau, Marshall, and late sub Nat Borchers all earning their first caps. Marshall made the most of his debut, becoming the 39th player in team history to score in his first full international.

The USA opened their account through a goal from Noonan -- his first for the U.S. team -- 25 minutes into the game on an assist by Steve Ralston, who recorded two helpers on the night. Ralston ran by a pair of Colombia defenders and entered the right side of the penalty area. His chip shot beat the goalkeeper but struck the crossbar, but Noonan was there to blast the ball high into the open goal.

The lead was doubled eight minutes later by Marshall's diving header. Mathis started the play with a corner kick that was not fully cleared by the South Americans. Ralston gained possession on the right side of the box and fired in a cross that Marshall put away with an acrobatic finish.

Mathis sealed the result a little after the hour mark, albeit with a little help from the Colombian 'keeper. The Georgia native scored his first goal for the U.S. since Jan. 18, 2003, directly from a corner kick, Juan Carlos Henao unable to deal with the swerving ball as it squeezed through his legs and over the line.

The U.S. will next take on Honduras in the final preparatory match before World Cup qualifying resumes. The Honduras match, scheduled for a 4 p.m. ET kickoff on March 19 in Albuquerque, N.M., will be shown live on Fox Soccer Channel and HDNet. The U.S. team will then travel south of the border for a difficult qualifying game against Mexico on March 27 in a game that can be seen live on ESPN2 and Telemundo at 1 p.m. ET. Three days later the U.S. will host Guatemala (also live on ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) in their first home match of the final round of qualifying, which will be played in Birmingham, Ala., at Legion Field.

USA 3, COLOMBIA 0

USA - Pat Noonan (Steve Ralston) 25

USA - Chad Marshall (Steve Ralston) 33

USA - Clint Mathis (unassisted) 66

USA: 18-Jon Busch; 7-Brian Mullan, 12-Chad Marshall, 3- Ritchie Kotschau, 5-Chris Albright; 25-Pablo Mastroeni (Capt.; Nat Borchers, 86), 8-Clint Dempsey, 14-Steve Ralston (24-Eddie Gaven, 76), 11-Clint Mathis (20-Taylor Twellman, 68; ejected, 76), 13-Pat Noonan (10-Kyle Martino, 83); 9-Eddie Johnson (21-Brian Ching, 71).

Subs not used: 1-Joe Cannon, 22-Kevin Hartman.

COL: 1-Juan Carlos Henao; 5- Andrés Orozco, 3- Aquivaldo Mosquera (2-Julián De La Cuesta, 46), 6-César Fawcett (4-Humberto Mendoza); 17-Juan Ramirez (Capt.; 16-Héctor Hurtado, 46), 7- Edixon Perea (13-Andrés Casañas, 46), 10-Victor Pacheco (14-Hugo Rodallega, 61), 21-John Restrepo, 19-Camilo Zúñiga (23-John Viáfara, 46), 18-Luis Gabriel Rey (8-Aldo Ramírez, 77).

Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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