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U.S. Draws With Cuba As Olympic Qualifying Begins

Tampa has a rich Cuban history. Anyone who has ever been to Ybor City can attest to that fact.  

So it was fitting that yesterday Tampa played host to the U.S.’s first game of the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying campaign against Cuba. In its first match, the U.S. team, comprised of members of the U-23 MNT, earned a draw, 1-1. Though the result was not perfect, the U.S. team dominated the flow of the game and should build on its early chemistry.

The game began exactly as Coach Peter Nowak desired: with a U.S. goal from Freddy Adu in the 14th minute. However, the U.S. attack, though creating several quality opportunities, could not find the net again the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Cuba made the most of its scarce opportunities by netting a beautiful redirection goal near the end of the first half.

Despite the disappointing final result, their were some encouraging moments for the squad. For instance, Freddy Adu played beyond his years and was clearly the U.S. leader on the pitch. In addition to scoring the lone goal for the U.S., Adu nearly had two more goals in the first half. Throughout the game, Adu controlled the game’s tempo and consistently ensured his opportunities ended with well-struck shots. Though he had only one goal, Adu easily could have had a hat trick.

Though Jozy Altidore failed to contribute much to the attack (he was removed at the half after being knocked about a bit by Cuba), midfielders Dax McCarty and Maurice Edu more than picked up the slack by playing well. Unfortunately, despite dominating the game (the U.S. had nine corners to Cuba’s zero), the U.S. could only come away with one point.

The U.S. next plays Panama in Tampa on March 13. Another draw would endanger the U.S. qualifying bid, so expect to see Adu and the U.S. come out firing.

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