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By ESPN Staff

Refs favour football superpowers, complains Arena

BAD DUERKHEIM, Germany, June 18 (Reuters) - United States coach Bruce Arena believes the world's established footballing powers still get an easier ride from match officials.

Speaking after his nine-man team held on for an epic 1-1 draw with Italy in Kaiserslautern on Saturday, Arena chose his words carefully but questioned whether Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda had been harsh on his players.

'It's natural, the powers in the game probably get a bit more respect on the officiating, it's not unusual in any sport,' said Arena, who felt some of the Italian players had made a meal of certain tackles.

'One day the U.S. will get those calls in our favour. But we can't dwell on it, it is what is and I'm just pleased the way our guys responded in difficult conditions.'

Italy's Daniele De Rossi was shown a straight red card for a blatant elbow into the face of Brian McBride after 28 minutes before Pablo Mastroeni and Eddie Pope joined him down the tunnel either side of halftime.

'Eddie said he got the ball, it was a bit harsh,' said Arena, of Pope's dismissal for a second yellow card following a tackle on Alberto Gilardino. 'With Pablo's, I'm not sure if that was a straight red.'

Of the 10 red cards shown in the tournament so far, only De Rossi's involved a player from football's traditional top table, and there could be little argument with the Italian's moment of madness.

The Americans also had a goal ruled out for offside in the most action-packed game of the World Cup so far and one which restored their reputation after the 3-0 mauling they suffered by the Czech Republic.

Not only that, it gives them a realistic chance of reaching the last 16, providing they can beat Ghana in the final round of fixtures in what has become an intriguing group.

'I don't know if we lost our reputation against the Czechs, we lost to the number two ranked team in the world,' he said.

'But we redeemed ourselves from day one, we are where we want to be. We wanted to be alive for the Ghana game and, who knows, four points might be good enough to get out of the group. We're gonna give it our best effort.'

Ghana showed in their 2-0 victory against the Czechs on Saturday that they will be formidable opponents in Nuremburg.

However, Arena believes several of his players came of age against the Italians.

'Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley were spectacular in midfield,' he said. 'Landon emerged today into the player we think he can be.

'He was spent at the end of the game the way he should be, he gave a great effort. I can't give enough praise to the players that wore our shirt today.'