Iran Coach : Mansour Pourhaidari.
USA Coach: Bruce Arena.
PASADENA, Calif. (Sunday, January 16, 2000) - The U.S. Men's National Team, playing before a lively pro-Iranian Rose Bowl crowd of 50,181, opened the 2000 campaign with a strong come-from-behind effort to tie Iran, 1-1, in the first meeting between the two teams on domestic soil. Chris Armas (Chicago Fire, MLS) scored his first goal in international play in the second half to earn the draw and earn himself honors as the first Chevrolet Man of the Match in 2000.
Iran opened the scoring nine minutes into the end-to-end first half thanks to some skillful footwork from Khodadad Azizi, who controlled a looping pass and split three defenders at the top of the 18-yard box before dishing the ball left to Mehdi Mahdavikia. Mahdavikia turned toward goal and slipped his low shot under the falling American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel (Liverpool, England), and inside the left post.
Iran nearly extended its lead two minutes later, again through the creative work of Azizi, when the Iranian forced Friedel off his line to make a sliding save.
The USA came to life after the half-hour mark and pressed the attack forward to threaten the Iran goal. Brian McBride (Columbus Crew, MLS), who scored the only United States goal when these same two teams met in the World Cup in France, had the first good shot on goal, bouncing a header and forcing a save in the 35th minute.
Just minutes later, Eddie Lewis (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS) showed a bit of acrobatic flair and hit a flying side-volley on target. On the next possession, Lewis teamed up with Claudio Reyna (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland) to force another save following a sharp passing combination.
But it was Armas who finally scored for the USA, roofing a powerful shot past Hadi Tabatabei in the 48th minute. Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) began the play, sending a long pass down the right flank to Cobi Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS), who worked to the corner flag before delivering a cross through the penalty area to Armas. McBride and Lewis let the ball pass, and the 27- year-old midfielder converted with his right foot.
"I'm not a goal scorer, but I was able to get that one on target and take advantage of the chance," Armas commented after the game. "Frankie and Cobi were able to work the ball in, and I called Eddie (Lewis) off the ball to leave it for me, and it went in."
Friedel kept the game tied with several excellent saves in the second half, including a pair of sprawling efforts to deny the counter-attacking Iranians.
"It was a great match, and we would love another opportunity to play Iran again," United States head coach Bruce Arena remarked. "It was a well-played game, and it was a fair result."
The draw extended the American unbeaten streak against Asian Confederation nations to six games, and provided a small measure of revenge following the 2-1 loss to Iran in the only previous meeting between the two teams.
Next up for the Men's National Team is a trip to Coquimbo, Chile, on January 29. That match, which will serve as the team's final tune-up before the upcoming Gold Cup, will mark the first trip for the USA to the South American country.