Cup Notes: US shows depth
By Johnnie Whitehead, USA TODAY
2 hours, 1 minute ago
Most of the talk before Wednesday's U.S. World Cup qualifier vs. Trinidad and Tobago centered on Claudio Reyna and John O'Brien returning to the fold.
While both played well in their first match together since the 2002 World Cup (Reyna was named Man of the Match), another duo emerged in the 1-0 victory: Bobby Convey and Eddie Lewis.
"He's (Convey) a guy that's dangerous on that side of the field," said coach Bruce Arena. "He and Eddie Lewis created a number of opportunities on the left flanks."
They wreaked havoc on the left side, with Lewis making a rare start at left back with the absence of injured defender Carlos Bocanegra. Convey was making his second start with the senior team and his second in a World Cup qualifier.
"A lot of my game is running off the ball, getting some good crosses and taking people on," said Convey. "You have to be a better player when you have better players around you."
Said Lewis: "It's new to me. I felt very in-sync stepping in. It says a ton about the depth of this team."
The pair was consistent throughout, with Lewis clearing nicely and serving perfectly weighted balls to help initiate attacks, and with Convey making strong runs to stretch Trinidad's backline.
"It's probably something we've never had before (on the left side). Bobby made quite a few strong runs. His right-footed shot was one of his best," said Brian McBride, who scored the match's only goal on an assist from Convey.
Convey's shot in the 63rd minute was negated only because of a spectacular one-handed, diving save by keeper Kelvin Jack.
Unfortunately for Convey, he won't be an option for Arena when the Americans face Mexico on Sept. 3 in Columbus, Ohio.
He picked up his second yellow card in the 31st minute for a sliding tackle just outside the box on Christopher Birchall. He got red-carded for a sliding tackle in the 88th minute and was sent off, leaving the USA with 10 men. Trinidad, however, had been playing with just 10 since the 41st minute, when Dennis Lawerence was red-carded for a breakaway foul on Landon Donovan.
"Maybe the first yellow card was a question," said Arena. "The second was merited, a little inexperience on Bobby's part."
While oft-injured midfielder O'Brien, making his first appearance for the USA in a World Cup qualifier since 2001, helped set up the Americans' first goal, he quickly was grounded.
O'Brien took a knee in the fourth minute and was slow to get up because of a left hip contusion. He finished the half, but when the second half started, Chris Armas substituted for him.
Officials for U.S. Soccer said the injury isn't considered major and shouldn't hinder O'Brien from joining the team for the Mexico match.
U.S. keeper Kasey Keller got his fourth consecutive shutout - he hasn't allowed a goal in 417 consecutive minutes - but only had to stop one shot. "They (Trinidad) played well, but they didn't challenge Kasey tonight," said Arena.
Taylor Twellman, one of the most prolific scorers in Major League Soccer, had his first goal for the USA disallowed in the 86th minute because of an offside call. He entered the game in the 83rd minute as a substitute for McBride ... Arena is optimistic that DaMarcus Beasley (hamstring) and Eddie Johnson (toe) could return for the Mexico match but not Steve Cherundolo (knee). ... ABC and ESPN will broadcast their fourth consecutive World Cup next year and will televise all 64 games in high definition. The networks will not decide until after the Dec. 9 draw how to split the matches among ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. All games, which will be played in Germany from June 9-July 9, will be broadcast live.