FULLERTON, Calif. - A young and relatively inexperienced U.S. Men's National Team controlled the match and cruised past Colombia 3-0 in front of 7,086 fans at Titan Stadium tonight to extend its record unbeaten streak to 15 games. The impressive run dates back to a 0-1 loss to Holland on Feb. 18, 2004 and includes a record of 10-0-5 (including 2-0-0 in 2005).
Defender Chad Marshall scored in his full international debut when he headed home a cross from ussoccer.com Man of the Match Steve Ralston in the 33rd minute, eight minutes after midfielder Pat Noonan finished a rebound of a Ralston chip to score in his first start for the U.S.
Forward Clint Mathis finished the scoring by swerving in a corner kick that was mishandled by the Colombian 'keeper in the 66th minute. It was his first goal for the U.S. since January 18, 2003, a surprising span of 17 matches.
"We beat a very good team," said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. "We had a bunch of good performances tonight. I thought Steve Ralston did a heck of a job contributing to the first two goals. It was a tough game; the pace of the game was fast. It was great experience for our guys to get exposure at the international level."
Six players - goalkeeper Jon Busch, defenders Richie Kotschau, Chad Marshall and Brian Mullan, and midfielders Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan - made their first starts for the U.S. Men, with Busch, Kotschau, Marshall and 86th minute sub Nat Borchers earning their first caps.
The U.S. had its first good chance of the match in the 12th minute after a very active Ed Johnson was fouled along the left touchline. On the resulting free kick, Mathis swerved a ball to the far post, where it was headed up in the air twice by Marshall before a defender headed it down to the feet of Albright, who one-timed it high.
The U.S. threatened again in the 22nd minute, again coming off a foul suffered by Johnson deep in the opposing team's half, this time near the right corner flag. Mathis sent his free kick to the middle of the box, where defender Humberto Mendoza rose to head it clear but inadvertently sent it off the right corner of the goalpost before it was quickly cleared.
The U.S. finally broke through in the 25th minute with a goal that was set up by yet another dangerous Johnson run through the defense. As three Colombian defenders converged to dispossess him, the ball squirted into the path of an onrushing Ralston. Ralston took a big touch and ran around two defenders to recover the ball inside the right portion of the penalty area. With goalkeeper Juan Henao out to cut off the angle, Ralston tried a clever chip shot that dropped down but drew the crossbar. The rebound fell down toward the far post, where Noonan was there to crush a point-blank shot into the roof of an open goal.
The U.S. made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute, with Mathis serving as the catalyst with a series of wicked free kicks and crosses. The Real Salt Lake star had a corner kick cleared back to him, then sent in a cross that Johnson got a foot on but had his shot through traffic deflected over the crossbar. Mathis' second corner was cleared out of the box to Ralston on the right side, where he whipped in a cross that Marshall dove to head home at the near post.
"I wasn't able to get a goal last year. I hit a lot of posts. But to get it today here, in my first game in front of my family in my hometown was nice," said the 20-year-old Marshall. "It was a little intimidating getting my first game against Colombia because they are a powerhouse down there. I hope that I continue to play well in this camp and get in a couple of more games."
Colombia came out in the second half with four substitutes inserted to improve their attack, and they provided solid pressure in the early going, but the U.S. backline held firm as the speedy Mullan raced down countless through balls and Albright repeatedly headed long balls out of danger.
The U.S. got a gift in the 66th minute, when on a second consecutive corner kick, Mathis swerved a ball to the near post that was mishandled and went under the legs of goalkeeper Juan Carlos Henao to trickle over the goalline and make it 3-0.
Colombia picked up their attack again in the last 12 minutes after second-half sub Taylor Twellman was ejected in the 76th minute for a tackle from behind, but they could not break through despite being a man up in the match's final moments. Busch was called on to make only two saves in the match, posting a shutout in his first-ever appearance.
The U.S. next faces Honduras on March 19 live on Fox Soccer Channel and HDNet at 4 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. MT at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, its first match in the Southwest city since 1994. The match will serve as a final tune-up before two tough World Cup qualifiers in a matter of four days. The U.S. will travel south to face Mexico at Estadio Azteca on March 27 live on ESPN2 and Telemundo at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT, then head back to the States to host Guatemala on March 30 live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.
U.S. vs. Colombia Match Report
Match-up: USA vs. Colombia
Date: March 9, 2005
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Titan Stadium - Fullerton, Calif.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PT
Weather: 62 degrees; hazy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F USA 2 1 3 Colombia 0 0 0
USA - Pat Noonan (Steve Ralston) 25th minute.
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.
Head Coach: Bruce Arena.
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).
Subs not used: 12-Breiner Castillo.
Head Coach: Reinaldo Rueda.
Stats Summary: USA COL Shots 10 9 Saves 2 0 Corner Kicks 6 7 Fouls 22 17 Offside 1 5Misconduct Summary:
COL - John Javier Restrepo (caution) 9th minute.
USA - Chad Marshall (caution) 11.
COL - Juan Carlos Ramirez (caution) 14.
USA - Pablo Mastroeni (caution) 30.
USA - Richie Kotschau (caution) 49.
USA - Taylor Twellman (ejection) 76.
COL - Andres Casanas (caution) 82.
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (MEX)
1st Asst.: Alejandro Rios (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Jose Camargo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Valenzuela (USA)
Man of the Match: Steve Ralston