U.S. soccer team slips past Poland

Posted: Thursday, April 01, 2004

PLOCK, Poland (AP) The United States tuned up for World Cup qualifying by beating Poland 1-0 in an exhibition game Wednesday on DaMarcus Beasley's goal, ending the hosts' seven-game winning streak.

Goalkeeper Brad Friedel had a shutout in his first national team game in nearly two years for the United States, which lost to Poland 3-1 in the first round of the 2002 World Cup.

The Americans, who went on to reach the quarterfinals of that tournament, open their road to the 2006 edition with a qualifier against Grenada in Columbus, Ohio, on June 13.

This also was coach Bruce Arena's first win in seven tries in Europe. The Americans had been 0-10-1 in Europe since beating Austria in an exhibition game in April 1998.

''It feels good,'' Arena said. ''We've lost some difficult games along the way like to Holland, Germany, Italy. But we knew we would win one.''

Due to fears of terrorism Wednesday, Polish police increased security for the game, with at least 50 officers forming a ring around the field and another 500 outside the stadium.

Arena started seven European-based players, including Friedel, who plays for Blackburn in the English Premier League.

''It was an important match in an important year,'' he said. ''It was great to get this group of players together and then have success. It's rare we get our European based and domestic players together.''

''Our captain, Claudio Reyna, and Beasley were probably the two most important players out there today.''

Friedel wasn't really tested until the 67th minute, when he came out to smother a shot launched by Jacek Krzynowek. Grzegorz Rasiak had Poland's best chance in the first half, when Gregg Berhalter fell as they tangled over a pass, letting the forward race toward the goal alone. But Rasiak's weak shot spun outside the left post.

''He made two great saves,'' Arena said. ''It's comforting having a quality goalie like Brad Friedel out there.''

The U.S. team had many more scoring chances.

In the 26th minute, Chicago Fire midfielder Beasley pushed the ball past goalie Jerzy Dudek without breaking stride. It was Beasley's fifth goal in a U.S. uniform.

Josh Wolff posed the Americans' first threat in the 15th minute, forcing Dudek to charge out of the net and smother the shot. In the 58th minute, Conor Casey had his foot on Bobby Convey's pass right in front of the goal, but a defender kicked it away at the last minute. In the 64th, Clint Mathis had a clear look, but took too long to control the ball.

It was one of several exhibition games across Europe on Wednesday, with teams starting to warm up for this summer's European Championship.

Robbie Keane scored in injury time to give Ireland a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic, which had been unbeaten in 20 games; Sweden edged England 1-0; Germany beat Belgium 3-0; Greece edged Switzerland 1-0; and the Netherlands dashed France's hopes of a world record 15 wins in a row with a 0-0 tie.

England, which has not beaten the Swedes in 11 games since 1968, was forced to play without several injured stars, including team captain David Beckham and striker Michael Owen. The only goal came in the 54th minute, when Ajax Amsterdam striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic turned home a left wing cross from Kim Kallstrom.

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