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 Sunday, May 12, 2002 19:35 EST

Americans shaky in 2-1 victory

[Associated Press]

WASHINGTON -- The United States began its final run of World Cup warmups Sunday with a shaky 2-1 victory over Uruguay that showed hope for the Americans' offense but exposed weaknesses on defense.

Uruguay's Gonzalo Sorondo, right, heads the ball over United States' Clint Mathis in the first half.

Tony Sanneh and DaMarcus Beasley scored first-half goals for the Americans, who won't have their full World Cup roster together until later this week.

Brad Friedel, starting in goal while Kasey Keller traveled back to the United States following the English Premier League season, made his case to be the World Cup starter with several outstanding saves and couldn't be faulted on Sebastian Abreu's goal in the 60th minute.

But the defense in front of him, shaky in recent months during losses at Germany and Ireland, showed little sign of improvement, with outside backs David Regis and Sanneh struggling to contain speedier opponents.

Uruguay, the final team to qualify for the World Cup's 32-nation field, gave the United States plenty of room to work with, and the Americans took advantage before a mostly pro-Uruguay crowd 30,413 at RFK Stadium.

Clint Mathis and Earnie Stewart both had breakaway chances, and it took a great diving save by goalkeeper Gustavo Munua to punch away a shot by Mathis in the 72nd minute. Cobi Jones nearly thread a shot inside the outside post in the 86th and Beasley nearly scored three minutes later from a sharp angle.

The U.S. team caught a break in the 73rd minute when an apparent tying goal by Abreu was disallowed on a questionable offsides.

It was the first of three exhibition games in an eight-day span for the Americans. After warmups Thursday against Jamaica at East Rutherford, N.J., and the Netherlands on May 19 at Foxboro, Mass., they head to the World Cup for first-round games against Portugal on June 5, co-host South Korea on June 10 and Poland on June 14.

Sanneh's goal came after Beasley stole the ball from an Uruguay player and Dario Rodriguez kicked it out. Jeff Agoos took the corner kick and Sanneh slanted back across the top of the 6-yard box and redirected the ball inside the near post with a glancing header.

Beasley created his own goal, speeding past defender Gonzalo Sorondo, cutting toward Munua, who saved his initial shot, which bounded toward the far side. Beasley kept running across and tucked the rebound into the net from a sharp angle.

Friedel, meanwhile, jumped high to make a right-handed punch save on Fabien O'Neill in the 10th, then dived to his right in the 31st to save a 30-yard free kick by Alvaro Recoba. Two minutes later, after Gustavo Mendez went around Davis Regis, Friedel parried his hard shot over the crossbar.

When Uruguay scored, it was only after two big saves on Recoba. Friedel kicked away his tough shot from about 8 yards, then punched away the rebound to the opposite side -- where Abreu put it into the open net.

Abreu had a breakaway in the 66th and Friedel stood his ground, blocking the shot with a shoulder.

Game notes: Midfielder Chris Armas twisted his right knee in the 16th minute and came out eight minutes later. ... Sanneh left in the 68th because of a muscle cramp. His only previous goal was against Germany on a breakaway in February 1999. ... Beasley's only previous goal was a game-winner against South Korea in the first round on this year's CONCACAF Gold Cup. ... The Americans were without MFs Claudio Reyna, John O'Brien and Eddie Lewis. ... Agoos made his record 119th start for the United States, one more than Marcelo Balboa. With 128 appearances, Agoos is second behind Cobi Jones, who made his 154th Sunday.

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