Olympic Soccer: US 2, Czech Republic 2

Wednesday, September 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ U.S. coach Clive Charles admitted he'd take a tie in the Olympic opener in a ``New York second,'' so he should be happy with Wednesday night's 2-2 tie against the Czech Republic, right?

Not quite.

The Americans led twice, including 2-1 at halftime on goals by Chris Albright and Josh Wolff. But the Czechs tied it on Lukas Dosek's penalty kick just after the break.

Wolff, Albright, Conor Casey and Frankie Hejduk all fired shots on goal in a bid for the winner, but all were rebuffed by goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny, who kept the highly favored Czechs in the game.

Charles was disappointed not to grab an unlikely three points with a win, but said his underrated U.S. under-23 squad had earned some serious respect.

``I tell people all the time that we have players in the United States that can play very well in any arena, I just think the guys proved that tonight,'' he said.

It was an entertaining game because both teams attacked.

``We had quite a few chances to score, we were a little unfortunate not to convert. Overall I was happy with the way the team played. I just hope we can continue to play that well in our next two games.''

Wolff missed a chance to break the tie in the 65th minute. He appeared to be dragged down with only Drobny to beat, but no penalty was whistled.

``Unfortunately I didn't finish it. The defender made a good play, we have to live with it, 2-2,'' Wolff said.

The United States got more opportunities as the match progressed, but Drobny frustrated the young strikeforce of Casey and Wolff.

Dosek converted his penalty kick seven minutes into the second half after American defender Chad McCarty brought down Marek Heinz inside the penalty area. The Czech defender guided the kick into the right corner of the net as goalkeeper Brad Friedel dived the other way.

Adding insult, McCarty, the acting captain while Brian Dunseth is sidelined with a groin injury, was yellow-carded for his sliding tackle.

Earlier, Czech midfielder Marek Jankulovski scored in the 28th minute.

Albright put the Americans ahead when he guided a shot into the net after Wolff's cross from the left deflected off a defender and skidded past Casey and Drobny.

The U.S. team celebrated by piling on Albright after he sprinted around the corner post, but the jubilation was checked seven minutes later when Jankulovski tied it.

Jankulovski got around Hejduk and made it to the edge of the box, where he stopped the ball on his right foot, steadied and then squeezed a left-foot drive between two defenders and past the outstretched hand of Friedel.

Casey and Wolff continued to attack the left flank, finally combining for a goal in the 44th minute.

Casey got into space on the left and sent a cross past two Czech defenders across the goal mouth to Wolff, who nursed the ball into the net as he slid feet-first.

Late in the match, Czech coach Karel Bruckner threw up his hands in frustration as the Americans consistently outflanked his defense. He was full of praise for the opposition and conceded the tie was lucky.

``I've seen the Americans play two or three times, but tonight they were wonderful,'' he said. ``Our opponents managed to get through all our defense no matter what we tried.''

The U.S. team will remain in Canberra until Saturday for a game against Cameroon, missing Friday's opening ceremony in Sydney.

Wins against Cameroon and then Kuwait would put the United States through to the second round of an Olympic tournament for the first time.

Italy 1, Australia 0

Andrea Pirlo, frustrated by the crossbar and a goal-line clearance, finally scored off the inside of the goalpost with nine minutes to go. A packed stadium of 93,252 at Melbourne Cricket Ground went home disappointed, although the hosts had plenty of scoring opportunities.

Italian goalkeeper Christian Abbiati made two stunning saves to blank the Aussies.

Nigeria 3, Honduras 3

At Adelaide, Nigeria scored twice in the final 13 minutes.

Victor Agali scored in the 77th and Yakubu Ayegbeni in the 89th, nullifying a two-goal performance by Honduras' David Suazo.

Suazo connected in the 35th and 75th minutes, the latter goal giving Honduras a 3-1 lead. Julio Leon scored the other goal for Honduras in the 60th.

Bright Igbinadolor had tied the match for Nigeria, the defending Olympic champion, in the 50th.

Cameroon 3, Kuwait 2

Lauren Etame Mayer scored with five minutes remaining. Nicolas Alnoudji gave Cameroon the lead in the 36th minute. Patrick Mboma connected in the 75th and Mayer scored the winner off a setup by Patrice Abanda.

Khalaf Almutairi had lifted Kuwait into a 1-1 tie in the 63rd minute, and Jamal Abdulrahman added the other Kuwaiti goal on a header with three minutes remaining at Brisbane.



Germany 3, Australia 0

At Canberra, Germany scored a decisive victory as Inka Grings angled in a left-footed shot from close range in the 35th minute to open the scoring, then set up the clincher for midfielder Bettina Wiegmann in the 71st minute.

Renate Lingor added a third goal a minute into extra time.

Brazil 2, Sweden 0

At Melbourne, goals by Pretinha and Katia da Silva lifted Brazil, which outplayed the Swedes with clever ball control and slick passing and had the look of a medals contender.