- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

ROSTOCK, Germany (AP) Germany scored three goals in a seven-minute span to beat the United States 4-2 yesterday in an exhibition game to prepare the teams for the World Cup.

Clint Mathis scored both goals for the Americans, but their defense could not hold a German team depleted by injuries.

Mathis scored the first goal in the 17th minute, but Christian Ziege tied it in the 44th. Oliver Neuville, Oliver Bierhoff and Torsten Frings scored in quick succession starting in the 61st minute. Mathis got his second goal in the 70th minute.

"I thought the Germans played well; they dominated us physically," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. "A couple of our guys bailed out on plays. … They moved better, they thought better, they beat us in all phases of the game."

Germany, missing about half its likely World Cup roster because of injuries and other reasons, also lost key midfielder Michael Ballack, its top scorer in the qualifying, to a hamstring injury.

"I'm happy with the attitude of our players," German coach Rudi Voeller said. "They gave everything from the first to the last minute, even though our lineup was a bit makeshift. The Americans smartly knew how to take apart our three-man defensive line. We had some problems keeping our lines together."

The United States, which lost to Germany 2-0 in the 1998 World Cup, was without captain Claudio Reyna, while forward Brian McBride and midfielder John O'Brien were on the bench because of injuries.

The match in this chilly Baltic port city was played with tight security.

Ziege beat Tottenham Hotspur teammate Kasey Keller in the American goal early on, but Jeff Agoos cleared the ball off the line. Keller then had to charge off the line twice for diving saves to deny Oliver Bierhoff and Bernd Schneider.

Just as the Germans appeared to begin dominating, the Americans scored when Jovan Kirovski shook off Frank Baumann on the left side a slipped a pass to Mathis, who was unchallenged. His first effort bounced off the post and he tapped in the rebound past goalkeeper Frank Rost.

In the 24th, Mathis should have made it 2-0 but he drove the ball over the bar from six yards out. Ziege then tied it with a curling free kick over the defensive wall, a shot that went in off Keller's fingertips.

Neuville scored the go-ahead goal on a header, and Bierhoff got his 33rd international goal in 61 appearances off a pass from Schneider after Agoos failed to clear the ball.

Frings scored off a pass from Joerg Boehme. After Mathis' goal, U.S. coach Bruce Arena reshuffled his shaky defense, sending in Gregg Berhalter and Tony Sanneh for Agoos and Steve Cherundolo.

In other international action yesterday, Vincenzo Montella scored twice in Italy's 2-1 victory over England in Leeds.

World Cup champion France beat Scotland 5-0 in Saint-Denis in former German national team coach Berti Vogts' first game in charge of Scotland. Also, Patrick Suffo's late header salvaged a 2-2 tie for Cameroon against Argentina in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Netherlands beat Spain 1-0 in Rotterdam on Frank de Boer's goal.

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