- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2002

On a cold, rainy, dreary afternoon at RFK Stadium, the U.S. men's national team showed that the future is indeed bright for American soccer.
In its first action since a historic quarterfinal finish at last summer's World Cup, the United State fielded a team that had 10 players making their national team debut.
Ben Olsen and Sasha Victorine scored goals as the Americans shut out El Salvador 2-0 in an international exhibition before a crowd of 13,590, most of which was Salvadoran.
For Olsen, this one was special. The last two years D.C. United's exciting midfielder battled a series of ankle injuries and surgeries that kept him off the U.S. team.
Olsen's goal in the 31st minute was his first international goal since March 12, 2000, when he scored against Tunisia. Olsen started the game at left-flank midfield.
"It was a nice feeling, it's always more special to do it at home," Olsen said of his fourth career international goal. "It's good to put on the uniform again. I've been excited all week to get back out here in every aspect in the way [the U.S. national team] does things. It's nice to be coached by Bruce [Arena] again. This capped it off pretty well."
Arena was pleased by the way his young team performed. Landon Donovan, who played attacking midfielder rather than his customary striker position, displayed excellent possession skills and orchestrated the U.S. attack with perfection.
Defenders Wade Barrett, Carlos Bocanegra, Dan Califf, a Maryland product, and Victorine, were solid despite a third-minute scare when goalkeeper Tim Howard was forced to make a sliding save on forward Diego Mejia's 10-yard bid from the right wing.
"I'm happy with the performance today," Arena said. "For the first time out for a number of our guys, I think they did well. The conditions weren't easy. It was good to get to know a new group and get this thing going again."
It was Arena's 12th international win this year, setting a U.S. Soccer record. With the next World Cup in 2006 in Germany, Arena is developing a new talent pool from which to draw.
Arena said he plans to hold his next national team camp in early January and play three friendlies before March. Like this match, Arena said he will not call in his European based players and exclusively use Major League Soccer players for his upcoming camps.
"We would like to get in three friendlies, hopefully, by the third week in January to the second week in February," Arena said. "We'll give them a break going into MLS. Hopefully, we can get a friendly at the end of March and play one game in each month before we head off to France for the Confederations Cup."
Early yesterday, the Salvadorans proved difficult to break down. They packed five in the back causing congestion in the middle. The United States quickly adjusted and attacked up its right flank using midfielder Chris Klein's 6-foot-1, 180-pound size.
On Olsen's goal Klein delivered a perfect cross to the middle of the box. From 10 yards out, Olsen soared over stumbling central defender Victor Velasquez and directed a powerful header past goalkeeper Juan Gomez for the only goal of the first half.
At least these Salvadorans came to play. In late October, CD Aguila, out of the Salvadoran First Division, played D.C. United in a friendly and was routed 4-0. Apparently Salvador's newly appointed coach, Juan Paredes, doesn't think too highly of Aguila, the Manchester United of the Salavdoran League. Paredes named only one Aguila player Gomez to his 18-man roster.
In the 60th minute, Victorine showed Paredes that he perhaps stuck with Gomez too long. Victorine's first international goal was the result of a beautiful exchange with forward Clint Mathis.
Victorine, who plays for the MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy, played a long pass forward to Mathis at the top of the 18. Victorine, who can play a multitude of positions, continued his run and Mathis ball-faked and then threaded the ball back to Victorine, who put the ball through Gomez's legs to make it 2-0.
"I kept attacking the space and the defender came out, I saw Clint on the far post and laid it over to Clint," Victorine said. "I kept my run going because I knew he was going to take a look up and see if he can find me, and he did, he played a great ball in there."


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