US men's soccer team struggling to score

Updated: August 5, 2008, 8:48 AM ET
Associated Press

TIANJIN, China -- Adding Brian McBride should have improved the U.S. Olympic team's scoring.

Not yet.

The Americans, who scored only six goals in five games during qualifying, arrived in China without scoring a goal in its only two warmup matches. Its half dozen goals -- three in one game -- were enough to earn one of two CONCACAF berths. That might not be enough to get out of its group in August.

The United States opens Thursday against Japan essentially needing a victory with the more heavily favored Dutch and Nigeria next.

"One goal goes in, and there's going to be a lot more to follow," U.S. midfielder Freddy Adu said Tuesday. "We're not really worried about that. We've been doing some finishing during training, hopefully that translates into something."

Adu scored four of the six goals during qualifying. The 19-year-old, who recently announced his loan from Benfica to Monaco, will be the focus of most U.S. opponents.

With the Olympic men's soccer tournament restricted largely to players under 23, McBride -- the third most prolific goal scorer in U.S. national team history -- was added as one of three overage players.

At the ING Cup friendly event last week in Hong Kong, the United States held Ivory Coast to a 0-0 draw and lost 1-0 to Cameroon -- two teams who have qualified for the Olympics.

"The last tournament was a chance for us to find the right mix on the field," Adu said. "Obviously, we would have loved to score a goal. I think we created enough chances. The goal scoring part is going to come."

McBride -- who last month signed with the Chicago Fire after a 4½-year stint with Fulham in the English Premier League -- was paired with 18-year-old Jozy Altidore as the Americans' offensive strike force at the ING Cup. Although it didn't produce goals, Altidore said he's adjusted to McBride, a player nearly twice his age.

"In the two games I've played with him, it's been a learning curve," said Altidore, who in June received a $10 million transfer from the New York Red Bulls to Villarreal in Spain, the most ever for an American.

"But I'm comfortable with the areas he runs in. His ability in and around the box make him very effective, and makes it easy for anybody to play with him. It takes the press off because of his ability and experience."

Two of U.S. coach Peter Nowak's overage choices were defensive: goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who on Friday was transferred from Chivas USA to England's Aston Villa, and New England Revolution central defender Michael Parkhurst.

It was a defense that seemingly needed little bolstering, as the Americans allowed only two goals in their five qualifying matches.

"We are concerned about goals," Nowak said. "But everyone is looking at the negatives. I prefer to look at the positives. In the qualifiers, we created chances."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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