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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

Sept. 10, 2008
DEFENSE LEADS THE WAY
U.S. posts sixth straight shutout in World Cup Qualifying, fifth straight in 2008

Kathryn L. Knapp
Chicagolandsoccernews.com Editor

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has not allowed a goal in five of the six World Cup qualifiers that he has played in.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has not allowed a goal in five of the six World Cup qualifiers that he has played in.
Linda Cuttone / Sports Vue Images
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Team defense is clearly something the United States men’s team is perfecting with every game. Wednesday night was no different as the Americans shut down Trinidad & Tobago’s offense in a 3-0 win at Toyota Park.

“We put them on our terms tonight,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “We really dictated the play. Our midfield did great stopping their attack. Defensively, the team has been great.”

The Soca Warriors put on the pressure ended the first half with just one shot. But second half and down 2-0, they attempted to get a few goals back.

Oguchi Onyewu blocked a Trinidad & Tobago shot in the 53rd minute. Seconds later, Trinidad & Tobago attempted another shot. It sailed toward the right post. Steve Cherundolo was standing right in front of the post, chested it down and back into play.

In the 60th minute, the Soca Warriors Cornell Glen blasted a shot at goal from just outside the 18-yard box. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard dove, sending the ball back into play. Anthony Wolfe knocked the rebound into the net, but the referee ruled Wolfe offside.

“We got a little sloppy in the second half,” U.S. Captain Carlos Bocanegra said. “It’s going to happen over three games. We still take pride in shutouts.”

Howard said it was only a matter of time before the Soca Warriors made a rush toward goal.

“We knew it was going to happen,” Howard said. “They were going to make one last push. The one goal they had was called offside.”

The USA packed on the offensive pressure in the final 15 minutes, causing the Soca Warriors to stay on their feet, until Glen took off on a break away in the 85th minute. But the U.S. men quickly cleared the offensive threat and regained control.

“Our attack kept them from coming at us,” Bocanegra said. “Our guys did a great job of passing and keeping the ball from them.”

Trinidad kept on the pressure, but the USA kept pushing. In stoppage time, the Americans forced consecutive corner kicks to end the match.

The U.S. Men out shot Trinidad & Tobago 11-6, with six shots on goal. The Soca Warriors collected two shots on goal in the second half alone. In five qualifying matches this season, the U.S. has not allowed one goal. They’ve outscored opponents 14-0.

The USA has not allowed a goal in six qualifying games, dating back to 2005, 543 scoreless minutes for opponents - a record for the men. The club topped Panama 2-0 to close out qualifying for the last World Cup. Prior to that, the Americans allowed three goals in a 3-0 loss to Costa Rica. Howard has had five shutouts in six World Cup qualifiers in his career.

“All eleven guys are defending,” U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo said. “It starts with the goalkeeper and ends with the center forward. We have very strong character as a team, which makes it easy for us to defend and hard for teams to score against us.”

The U.S. men posted a 7-2-1 record to reach the 2006 World Cup, outscoring opponents 16-6. During that stretch, the USA had seven shutouts with a 6-0-1 record in those matches.

In 2008 matches, the men are currently on 551-minute streak, without allowing a goal. The last time the team dropped a loss was 1-0 against Spain on June 4th.

“Our defense has been really good as of late,” U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley said. “Everyone is doing a great job, including our midfielders. When we all keep things compact, it makes it hard for teams to score on us.”

Let’s see if the streak continues when the U.S. men return to action in October with matches against Cuba (Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C.), Trinidad & Tobago (Oct. 15 in Trinidad).
   
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