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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 23, 2006

Reyna hurt in U.S. defeat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Less than three weeks before the World Cup, the U.S. soccer team opened its final warmup series with a key injury and a loss.

U.S. captain Claudio Reyna strained a hamstring early in Tuesday's 1-0 defeat against Morocco, which got a 90th-minute goal from Mohamed Madihi after defender Steve Cherundolo lost the ball to Bouchaib El Moubarki.

"It's close to the games. Obviously not the best timing," Reyna said, "but I hope I've gotten away with something very minor. That's what we're optimistically thinking. I don't think it's going to be long-term, but again, tomorrow I'll know better once it calms down."

Reyna was injured about 11 minutes in when he tried to intercept a pass. Four years ago, he missed the opening 3-2 win over Portugal with a strained right quadriceps, then returned and was stellar for most of the final four games as the Americans advanced to the quarterfinals in their best showing since 1930.

The 32-year-old midfielder is among only seven players in this year's tournament appearing on a World Cup roster for the fourth time. In 1994, he missed the tournament with a right hamstring injury.

"I have to see tomorrow, get an MRI," he said. "It just really tightened up on me. I just kind of stretched out for a ball."

Reyna was limited to 23 of 44 games last season with Manchester City in England's Premier League. He injured his right knee and ankle Oct. 22 at Arsenal. He returned Dec. 4 and played four games, then found out he had been playing on a broken ankle and had surgery. In his third game after coming back March 5, he dislocated his right shoulder March 18 against Wigan. He returned again April 8 and started the final six games of the season.

Four years ago, the warmup games proved costly for the United States. Midfielder Chris Armas tore an anterior cruciate ligament against Uruguay and his likely replacement, Greg Vanney, injured a knee four days later against Jamaica. That created an opening for Cherundolo, who was added to the roster.

As for this game, the fifth-ranked Americans looked shaky against the No. 36 Atlas Lions. After a U.S. free kick, Moubarki stripped the ball from Cherundolo and sent it to Madihi, who was wide open and easily put the ball over goalkeeper Kasey Keller.

"Defensively I was very happy for 90 minutes. Unfortunately we make a mistake at the end," Keller said. "But I'm also disappointed after the mistake we didn't have guys chasing back. Things like that cost games."

Cherundolo could have put the ball out of bounds.

"It's definitely a mistake," he said.

While the Americans outshot Morocco 13-5, they generated only a few good scoring chances. The best opportunity came in the 82nd minute, when Landon Donovan's 25-yard shot was parried by goalkeeper Tarek El Jarmouni. With an open net, Eddie Johnson got little on the ball as he shanked the rebound. Bobby Convey then hit the side of the net on a 25-yard free kick in second-half injury time.

"We weren't sharp. I think we're a little bit leg-weary. We're a little bit overtrained at this point," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. "We didn't do a good job creating chances. Our last pass was poor. Our crossing was poor."

His focus is the Americans' World Cup opener against the second-ranked Czech Republic on June 12.

"Though we weren't awful out there, there weren't a lot of guys who had great performances either," Donovan said.

A crowd of 26,141, many waving red, white and blue, came to The Coliseum, the largest attendance for a soccer game in Tennessee.

Cherundolo, who played right back in the first half, pushed up to midfield in the second as the United States switched from four midfielders to five. Brian McBride and Josh Wolff started up front, with Donovan behind them as an attacking midfielder.

Cory Gibbs started at left back in place of likely World Cup starter Eddie Lewis, who rejoined the team after playing Sunday for Leeds United in its playoff loss to Watford at Cardiff, Wales.

Midfielder John O'Brien, coming off a string of injuries, had several effective passes in the first half, then was replaced by Bobby Convey. DaMarcus Beasley, on the left wing, had a good two-way game, and Cherundolo made a number of penetrating runs.

Morocco did not qualify for the 32-nation World Cup field. Before leaving for Germany on June 1, the fifth-ranked United States faces two more teams that didn't make the tournament: No. 71 Venezuela on Friday in Cleveland and 70th-ranked Latvia on Sunday in East Hartford, Conn.

"It's a good wakeup call. You don't want to go into a tournament overconfident," Keller said. "This has kind of knocked us back. Now let's see if we grow in the next two games."

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