Bocanegra, Conrad Help Undermanned U.S. Team Tie Italy, 1-1

June 17, 2006

Former UCLA teammates Carlos Bocanegra (1997-99) and Jimmy Conrad (1996-97) made their World Cup debuts a memorable one, helping the U.S. earn a 1-1 tie against Italy at the World Cup in Kaiserslautern, Germany despite playing nearly the entire second half with just nine men.

Three red cards were handed out in the game by referee Jorge Larrionda, with Italy's Daniele De Rossi receiving the first one in the 28th minute for a vicious elbow that bloodied American forward Brian McBride. It evened out for Italy just before halftime when U.S. midfielder Pablo Mastroeni received a red card for a late sliding tackle. With the game tied at 1-1 at the start of the second half, U.S. defender Eddie Pope earned his second yellow card of the match, which sent him off for the day and gave Italy the 10-9 advantage in the 47th minute.

After Pope's ejection, Conrad entered the game for Bobby Convey and helped Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu and Steve Cherundolo keep the Italians off the board despite their man advantage. The U.S. defense and goalkeeper Kasey Keller played hard-nosed defense and turned away each opportunity by Italy to preserve the tie and the one point.

Italy scored the first goal in the 22nd minute on a header from Alberto Gilardino. Five minutes later, Italy scored again - for the U.S. On a free kick, Italian defender Cristian Zaccardo scored on his own keeper while trying to clear the ball out of the box. The U.S. had a go-ahead goal by DaMarcus Beasley taken away in the 66th minute for an offsides by McBride.

The U.S. (0-1-1) can still advance to the next round if it can beat Ghana on Thursday at 6:55 am PT and Italy can defeat the Czech Republic. Mastroeni and Pope must sit out Thursday's game, which will likely put Conrad in a starting role. Ghana will also be missing two key players for the match due to yellow card accumulation - Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari, the two goal-scorers in the 2-0 win over Czech Republic.

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