August 2, 2008
FALLING TO CAMEROON
U.S. drops Olympic tune up 1-0
HONG KONG – The U.S. Men’s Olympic Team fell to Cameroon, 1-0, in their second and final game of the ING Cup before heading to the Olympic Games.
The game’s only goal came on a penalty kick in the 24th minute after a foul called against Michael Bradley in the area. Aurelien Chedjou Fongang converted from the spot, placing the ball perfectly into the side netting and barely past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Head coach Peter Nowak used 17 players in the game, once again taking full advantage of the ING Cup’s six allowed substitutions. Every player on the Olympic roster has seen the field over the two games.
“As I said before the start of the tournament, the reason we were here was to make progress in the way we play, said Nowak. “Looking at this game maybe we’re a still a little bit naïve about international football. Going into games like this we have to expect that they’ll be physical, with a lot of contact so we have to prevail. For us, I think the second half we played much better. Progress has been made and we expect to go to Tianjin tomorrow and polish the things that we need to this week.”
Cameroon came out on the attack, and nearly scored in the fifth minute. After earning a corner that was taken by Fongang, Stephane Bikey got a head to it and snapped his header hard into the crossbar.
The U.S. attack settled into its rhythm shortly thereafter, holding much of the possession throughout the first half. They got their first chance in the 11th minute on a buildup that started all the way at the back line. Sacha Kljestan received the ball in midfield and hit a perfectly placed diagonal ball across for Robbie Rogers. Rogers cut inside past his defender, but his shot went just wide of the near post.
With the score 1-0, Cameroon came close to doubling their lead in the 34th minute off of another corner kick. Fongang curled it to the near post and again was able to find Bikey whose header was cleared by . Rogers off the line.
Minutes later at the other end, Jozy Altidore received the ball from Stuart Holden, touched it in the air over his defender and ripped a low shot from the top of the box that went just high over the goal.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Bradley whipped in a ball from the touchline right to the head of captain Brian McBride, who had time and space. He snapped his header on frame, but Patrick Tignyemb leapt to keep the ball from going just under the crossbar.
Things started to get scrappy as the two teams combined for 25 fouls in the second half, 16 of which were against Cameroon. Late in the game, the U.S. earned consecutive free kicks from within 30 yards of goal. Holden struck one into the charging wall, and then Freddy Adu chipped the second into the box looking for Edu, but Tignyemb was there to pick it out of the air.
In the second game of the night, the Netherlands drew with the Ivory Coast, meaning the U.S. finished the Olympic tune up tournament in third place with two points. The Netherlands were crowned champions with three points from a 2-0 win over Cameroon and a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast.
The U.S. will travel to Tianjin, their Olympic venue, on Sunday, Aug. 3 for four days of preparation before their opening match of the Olympic Games against Japan on Aug. 7. That match will be shown live in the U.S. on MSNBC at 4:30 a.m. ET.