Meola Takes a Bow, U.S. Salvages Tie

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tony Meola 's 100th international appearance didn't go quite as he hoped -- but at least he didn't get a loss.

Ben Olsen scored the tying goal in the 25th minute off an assist from Landon Donovan and the United States salvaged a 1-1 tie against Jamaica last night in Cary, N.C., in the final exhibition game before Coach Bruce Arena chooses his 23-man World Cup roster.

It was Donovan's 23rd career assist, moving him ahead of Cobi Jones for the most in national team history as the Americans avoided losing for the first time in 17 games against Jamaica (9-0-8).

Before kickoff, Meola was honored as the ninth U.S. player to reach 100 caps. He was the starting goalkeeper at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and the No. 3 goalkeeper four years ago.

Meola hadn't played for the national team since May 16, 2002, and his addition to the roster was seen largely as a symbolic gesture by Arena.

Chris Albright had a couple of opportunities to put the Americans ahead, but goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts came through each time with fine saves. Both came off headers following a free kick by Donovan, with Ricketts narrowly deflecting the ball away from the goal each time.

Jamaica took a surprising lead barely four minutes into the game on a great effort by Teafore Bennett . He outran defender Frankie Hejduk to take Jermaine Hue 's pass near the box. Meola was caught out of position, and Bennett used his left foot to put it in for the early goal.

The United States came back to tie it on a brilliant move by Donovan. After Noonan was fouled, Donovan took the free kick before the Reggae Boyz were ready. He sent the ball to Olsen, who carried it in alone before taking a shot that ricocheted off the left hand of Ricketts and into the net.

-- From News Services

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