OAKLAND, California, Reuters
Brian McBride marked his return to the international stage with a brilliant strike as the United States defeated mainland China 2-1 in a soccer friendly Saturday at Network Associates Coliseum.
McBride has been on loan to Preston North End of the English First Division and had not appeared for the United States since scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 World Cup qualification match last September, having been sidelined for three months with a blood clot under his right arm.
The forward’s 27th-minute strike, coupled with a mainland China own goal, gave the Americans a victory despite a late goal by the visitors that brought cheers from a pro-China crowd of 8,903.
“It was probably not very far away from what we expected,” said U.S. coach Bruce Arena of his squad’s first match of the year. “We figured that fitness would be a real issue for us and it was, especially in the second half.”
The Americans could well have been up by three goals in the opening minutes, but squandered a handful of chances, most notably Landon Donovan who sent a shot high over the goal from 17 meters and DaMarcus Beasley who shot inches wide of the right post after being put through by McBride at 17 minutes.
Defender Jeff Agoos’s pass to Donovan triggered the McBride goal as the Bayer Leverkusen forward put the lanky striker through on the left side where McBride’s left-footed shot found the right side of the net.
The Chinese wasted a superb chance in the 18th minute when Qu Bo was put through but missed missed badly wide to the left from 14 meters.
An own goal by mainland China in the 47th minute doubled the U.S. lead.
McBride headed a long pass from Agoos into the mainland China end where defender Wang Liang’s poorly executed 40-meter clearance ended up in the back of the Chinese net.
Slack defending by the U.S. allowed the mainland China to grab a 74th minute goal when Wang put Qu through and U.S. keeper Tony Meola nonchalantly tried to clear the ball but failed to get a boot on it. “I’m not happy to lose, but happy to have a game where the team could learn so much,” said Chinese coach Bora Milutinovic.
“We used some different players in the second half. I was happy with the way they reacted.
“They need experience and they need to play games like this.”