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McBride's Game Is Three-Dimensional

Soccer: Striker gets hat trick as U.S. advances to semifinals with 4-0 victory over El Salvador.


Clint Mathis made his long-awaited return to the United States national soccer team Sunday, but it was overshadowed by an exceptional performance from Brian McBride.

The 29-year-old striker scored three goals--his first hat trick for the U.S.--as the Americans overwhelmed El Salvador, 4-0, on a soggy afternoon at the Rose Bowl.

The victory put the U.S. into Wednesday's semifinal of the sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup, against defending champion Canada.

"We started the game in a strong fashion today," said U.S Coach Bruce Arena. "Getting that early goal and then the second one following shortly made our task a lot easier."

The Americans took the lead in the ninth minute when McBride took a pass from Frankie Hejduk and headed the ball past El Salvador goalkeeper Santos Rivera.

Two minutes later, he made it 2-0 when Cobi Jones fed him the ball and he again beat Rivera from close range.

The Salvadoran team was still reeling from those twin blows when McBride put the game out of reach with a third goal in the 21st minute, finishing off a move that also involved Ante Razov, Eddie Lewis and Landon Donovan.

"Obviously he [McBride] took his chances quite well," Arena said. "The first one wasn't an easy goal. He did well with his header. He's in the right spots, he's in front of the goal where we want him."

The fourth U.S. goal came in the 72nd minute when DaMarcus Beasley, who is rapidly making sure that he will be on the World Cup squad that Arena takes to South Korea in May, beat his defender on the left flank and crossed the ball for Razov to score with relative ease.

The U.S. outshot the Salvadorans, 19-5, and the victory gave the Americans a 13-1-1 record in matches in which McBride scores a goal.

"Unfortunately, he gets married in the middle of February, so we're going to miss him for the game against Italy [on Feb. 13]," Arena said. "I would have loved to have seen him in that game."

McBride said teamwork was the reason the U.S. won.

"I think our runs in the box today were very good," he said. "We freed up guys at the back post and we took our chances. That was something we needed to work on after the first two games [against South Korea and Cuba]."

Mathis, sidelined by a knee ligament injury in June, came into the game for the final 27 minutes.

"It's going to take him probably another two months before he's ready, but it's good to see him back on the field," Arena said. "I think psychologically it helped him today, just to put the uniform on and get back on the field."

The only bad news for the U.S. was that Razov suffered a groin injury and defender Carlos Bocanegra hurt his ankle.

"Certainly, the field conditions were not ideal toward the end of the game and we were dealing with some bad fouls as well," Arena said. "It has taken its toll on our players a little bit. We're probably going to have to replace a couple of players."

El Salvador Coach Jorge Humberto Recinos offered no excuses. His team was beaten, pure and simple, and there was little to say.

"The U.S. team was totally superior to us," he said. "They scored the first two goals early. Nobody was prepared for that. They are a lot better than us."



Gold Cup Schedule

At Rose Bowl



South Korea vs. Costa Rica, 6 p.m.

U.S. vs. Canada, 8:30 p.m.



Semifinal losers, 10 a.m.

Semifinal winners, noon.

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