U.S. downs Venezuela 2-0 in exhibition matchPosted: Saturday March 29, 2003 8:06 PM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Homecoming weekend for Kasey Keller featured an efficient shutout.
The highlights for the United States were delivered by Jovan Kirovski and Landon Donovan, each scoring a spectacular goal as the Americans beat Venezuela 2-0 in an exhibition game Saturday.
Keller, from nearby Olympia, made only two saves but didn't need to be a star as he improved to 14-0-4 in his last 18 home games for the national team.
"It's always nice for a goalkeeper to come into a game and not concede a goal, especially in front of your friends and family and hometown crowd," said Keller, the starter for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.
He was among six Americans seeing their first international action since the 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Germany at last year's World Cup.
"It has been a long year," Keller said. "I played every game for Tottenham and it should have been an opportunity to stay at home and have this weekend off. But I was really excited to come back and train in Portland and then come back and play in the new Seahawks Stadium."
It was even an longer break from the national team for Kirovski, who hadn't played since a 4-2 loss at Germany last March.
"I've been out for a while but it was great to be in the camp with everybody, to see everybody again," Kirovski said. "None of this is new to me. I've been around a while."
The layoff showed during a scoreless first half for both sides, with many U.S. centering passes too high or off the mark.
The United States, improving to 3-1 this year, took over in the 52nd minute when Kirovski knocked the ball into the left side of the goal after a flurry when the defense disappeared.
Brian McBride sent a shot off a post and the rebound went to Carlos Bocanegra, whose shot went off the crossbar and bounced to Kirovski.
"Brian headed it and Carlos sent it off the bar and it just came to me," Kirovski said. "I just made sure I put it in the net. It was like pingpong."
It was the first goal against the improving Venezuelans in four games, dating to a 2-0 loss to Morocco on March 3, 2002.
"They're a team that's defended well over the past year," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said.
Donovan, who replaced Kirovski in the 60th minute, put the Americans ahead 2-0 in the 76th minute with another great goal. He took a pass from John O'Brien and sprinted up the left side, beating two defenders and drawing out goalkeeper Gilberto Angelucci.
With McBride open in front of the net, Donovan slotted the ball with his right foot and it went in just inside the far post for his eighth goal in 33 international appearances.
"Johnny gave me a ball in the middle and I turned with it," Donovan said. "I didn't really have a chance to think about what I was doing. There were a couple of guys on me, so I did what came natural."
With European leagues off and Major League Soccer not starting until April 5, the U.S. team had many of its top players, fielding a lineup that Keller, McBride, O'Brien Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Pope and Earnie Stewart.
The Venezuelans, who put up a strong defense throughout the first half, were a late replacement for Japan, which canceled its U.S. trip after the outbreak of war in Iraq.
"It was a good game for us," Arena said. "Venezuela defended quite well, especially in the first half. We weren't as sharp as we needed to be. Second half, we got it going. ... Earnie and Landon provided the energy we needed. They gave us a spark."
Notes: Keller, the backup to Brad Friedel at last year's World Cup, got his 29th shutout in 61 appearances, three shutouts short of Tony Meola's record. It was Keller's first game since last May 19, when he played the second half against the Netherlands in the last pre-World Cup exhibition game for the U.S. team. ... The Americans' next game is against Mexico on May 8 at Houston.