JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Bruce Arena closed the door to the U.S. team's locker room, the sweetness of yesterday's upset of Germany still new, and shouted, "Today the best team won!"
Arena, who got his first victory since being appointed head coach of the U.S. men's national team in October, is trying to instill confidence in his revamped team, and he wanted his players to understand that the dominating, 3-0 win before 17,259 at Alltel Stadium was no fluke.
"Today's result will be a surprise around the world," Arena said later. "It's not surprising in our locker room."
This was the U.S. men's team's first victory over Germany in four tries. It was also a rematch of last year's World Cup opener, which Germany won, 2-0.
It didn't seem to matter that just two players on each side who started the World Cup game also started yesterday. Or that German coach Erich Ribbeck complained that his team had practiced for only five days.
The victory was thorough.
"It was a clear 3-0 victory," said midfielder Claudio Reyna, the U.S. captain. "It wasn't three lucky goals. It was three well-deserved goals."
"Our attitude," forward Cobi Jones added, "was, 'Take no prisoners.' "
That pressure led to the three goals in a 10-minute span of the first half. It left Germany facing a 3-0 halftime deficit for the first time since 1993 when it played mighty Brazil in Washington.
All three scorers yesterday play for German-based pro teams.
Jovan Kirovski began the scoring in the 16th minute, when he dribbled past Markus Babbel, planted and hit a perfectly aimed 22-yarder into the net's right corner.
In the 24th minute, midfielder Tony Sanneh outmaneuvered German midfielder Jens Jeremies for a loose ball and zeroed in on goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. The goalie burst toward him to limit his angle, but Sanneh slipped a shot by him on the left.
The Americans added a third goal two minutes later. This one came on a wide-open six-footer by Reyna, after a nifty combination of passing from Chris Armas to Eddie Lewis to Reyna.
The goals were the first for the United States since a 2-1 loss to Iran at the World Cup. The Americans' first two games under Arena, the former coach of D.C. United, were goalless ties against Australia and Bolivia.
U.S. goalie Tony Meola had to stop only eight shots, just one of which appeared threatening.
NOTE: In the later match, Alexander Bugera scored in the 69th minute to lift Germany's Olympic-eligible players to a 1-0 win over the United States'.
The doubleheader marked the first time the top two U.S. men's national teams have played together. The Olympics limit participation to players under age 23, with three exemptions allowed.
Pub Date: 2/07/99