U.S. blanks Jamaica

Posted: Friday, May 17, 2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One by one, they hobbled off the field: Greg Vanney, Kasey Keller and Clint Mathis. The U.S. soccer team was losing players faster than it was scoring goals.

For a while, it appeared Thursday night's 5-0 victory over Jamaica would prove costly to the Americans, who leave next week for the World Cup. But after the game, U.S. coach Bruce Arena didn't think the players were seriously hurt.

''Man, these games are starting to hurt us more than helping us,'' U.S. forward Josh Wolff said.

Keller bruised a bone just below his left knee, Mathis broke the nail on his right big toe while scoring and Vanney sprained his right knee.

During Sunday's 2-1 win over Uruguay, defensive midfielder Chris Armas tore a ligament in his right knee, which will force him to miss the tournament. Now it seems like the goal for Sunday's game against the Netherlands -- the Americans' last World Cup warmup -- is to not get hurt.

Still, the games are a must for a team trying to rebound from a last-place finish at the 1998 tournament in France.

''How do you prepare for a World Cup? You don't play and you don't get touched?'' said Arena, who had his 31st victory to surpass Bora Milutinovic as the winningest coach in U.S. national team history.

Young players drove the offense for the United States, which improved to 10-3 this year. Josh Wolff scored twice, and Mathis, Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley got one each.

None of the four have ever appeared in a World Cup. Mathis and Wolff are both 25, Donovan is 20 and Beasley is 19. When the Americans play Portugal, co-host South Korea and Poland at the tournament next month, their performances probably will be the keys to U.S. success.

''The younger guys have been doing well,'' Wolff said. ''When you come on the field, you expect to be doing this.''



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