U.S. draws with Ecuador

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Brad Friedel made a diving save in the closing minutes as the United States played Ecuador to a scoreless tie Thursday in an exhibition game.

Even though he hadn't played a competitive game in nearly a month, Friedel showed his top form, stopping Edison Mendez' 20-yard drive to the lower left corner in the 86th minute.

The U.S. team played without most of its Major League Soccer-based players, relying on players with European clubs such as Friedel, who plays for Blackburn Rovers in England's Premier League.

The Americans, preparing for a June 16 World Cup qualifier at Jamaica and a qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago four days later, also were without Clint Mathis, their leading scorer in the last three games, who tore a knee ligament in practice Tuesday and will miss the rest of World Cup qualifying.

Before the game, the U.S. team learned forward Josh Wolff will be sidelined for six more weeks because of a broken left foot.

Joe-Max Moore, another forward, returned to the national team for the first time since injuring a calf in the opening qualifier against Mexico in March and played the full game.

Jovan Kirovski was the American's main threat. He took five shots in the first half, including one from 15-yards out that goalkeeper Geovanni Ibarra punched over the crossbar.

Ibarra followed with a diving save seconds later to punch Eddie Lewis' header wide of the far post. Kirovski had six of the Americans' 14 shots.

Agustin Delgado provided most of the offense for Ecuador, which used eight starters from Saturday's 2-1 win at Peru in a World Cup qualifier.

He was able to get above U.S. defenders several times in the first half. Delgado's best scoring chance came in the 39th minute when Ulises de la Cruz sent a high pass from the endline to Delgado, who beat Robin Fraser in the air but headed the ball just over the crossbar.

Three minutes later, Delgado got the ball in the area and again headed the ball over the crossbar.

The United States leads the final round of qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region with a 3-0 record. Ecuador is on track to qualify for the first time, currently third in South America at 8-4-1.

The game was the second for Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez since he was shot during an argument over the exclusion of a former president's son from a youth squad.

Gomez was shot May 8 in the right leg in a hotel restaurant in the coastal city of Guayaquil, allegedly by a bodyguard of Joselo Rodriguez, president of the second division Santa Rita soccer club.

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