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June 4, 2008
U.S. plays better, still loses to Spain, 1-0

Santander, Spain -- The effort was better than it was a week earlier, when the United States National Team suffered a two-goal defeat to England at Wembley Stadium.

But the Americans made it 0-2 against European giants on Wednesday night, falling to Spain, 1-0, in a friendly the Estadio El Sardinero in Santander.

Xavi Hernandez scored the lone goal of the game 11 minutes from full time. The Barcelona midfielder received the ball from Cesc Fabregas, turned quickly on Michael Bradley and ran at the U.S. defense.

He split the central defense and then fought off a tackle from Frankie Hejduk to beat Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who replaced Tim Howard at the start of the second half.

Hernandez also put a free kick from 22 yards out off the crossbar in the 63rd minute and then put an open shot from the top of the 18-yard box into Guzan just four minutes before clinching the win for Spain, which used the match as a Euro 2008 tune-up.

After Spain held the ball for nearly the entire opening 20 minutes, the U.S. had a few opportunities on counterattacks, with Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson combining well. In the 23rd minute, Adu played Johnson behind the Spanish backline, but the Fulham striker was offside when he tapped the ball past goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Eddie Lewis had a chance to put the U.S. in front, but his free kick from distance sailed over the right corner of the net in the 33rd minute. The Americansí best scoring opportunity came in the 39th minute when Johnson beat Carles Puyol in a foot race to a sublime ball by Adu, who was replaced by DaMarcus Beasley at the half.

But the former Kansas City Wizards striker didnít get much on his attempt, although he did force Casillas to fall to the ground to knock the ball away and force a U.S. corner kick.

In the second minute of second-half stoppage time, Johnson ran at his defender, but rolled a shot into Casillas, who easily made the save.

After back-to-back defeats in Europe, the U.S. will look to bounce back Sunday at Giants Stadium, but it wonít be easy. Thatís because Argentina, the reigning world No. 1 as ranked by FIFA, is on the schedule

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