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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

January 21, 2012
LUCKY SEVEN
Clark’s stoppage-time header lifts US Men over Venezuela


Saturday night’s goal against Brazil was the second game-winner of Ricardo Clark’s international career.
Saturday night’s goal against Brazil was the second game-winner of Ricardo Clark’s international career.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Ricardo Clark scored in the seventh minute of stoppage time to give the United States a 1-0 win over Venezuela at University of Phoenix Stadium Saturday night.

Clark headed home a Jermaine Jones corner kick from the right side for the second game-winner of his international career, following the lone goal in the 1-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"Overall I thought we had a very good performance tonight," said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who collected his second straight victory. "We created a ton of chances and really didn't give them any good opportunities. We did an extreme amount of work these past two and a half weeks, and we were glad to see the players get the reward. We switched to a 4-4-2 to push the game towards the end. It was just about getting one goal sooner or later. We got it--a bit late, but not too late."

Four players made their U.S. MNT debut on Saturday, with goalkeeper Bill Hamid, defender A.J. DeLaGarza and midfielder Graham Zusi earning their first cap in starting roles, and forward C.J. Sapong debuting 14 minutes into the second half.

Hamid, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy alum, becomes the ninth goalkeeper in U.S. history to collect a shutout in his first game. The Annandale, Va., native was only forced into action once in his first match, as the U.S. defense held Venezuela to a single shot on goal.

Two of the USA's other big scoring opportunities came on either side of halftime. In the 23rd minute, Zusi took a free kick and found Brek Shea in front of his defender. Shea sent a solid header toward goal, but ‘keeper Leonardo Morales made a clutch save with his left glove. In the 76th minute, second half sub Chris Wondolowski had a header that Morales cleared to his left to maintain the scoreless draw.

In the second half, the U.S. nearly struck as Jones received the ball inside the penalty box in the 48th minute, but the high-percentage opportunity was pushed wide left of the goal.

Most of Venezuela’s chances came from distance. Angel Flores (15th minute) and Francisco Flores (39th minute) both missed with shots from outside the box.

The Venezuelans continued to muster only modest opportunities in the second half. Miguel Mea Vitali had a 70th-minute attempt off of a free kick that went wide right, and Emilio Renteria had an opportunity on top of the box where he whiffed completely.

   
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