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U.S., Still Alive, Ties Italy 1-1

June 17, 2006

KAISERSLAUTERN, Italy (AP) _ The United States men’s soccer team, assured of staying alive after Ghana beat the Czech Republic, played to a hard 1-1 draw against Italy on Saturday night.

The Americans will next play Ghana in their quest to reach the elimination round.

The United States was forced to play a man down for nearly the entire second half after defender Eddie Pope was sent off. Despite being shorthanded, the U.S. team had several chances to go ahead.

The Americans, routed in their first game, were assured of staying alive no matter the result against Italy after Ghana stunned the Czech Republic 2-0 earlier Saturday.

Pope, who received a yellow card in the 11th minute for a foul on Alberto Gilardino, was ejected in the second minute of the second half after getting his second yellow card. Pope made a sliding takeout of Gilardino, touching the ball first but then crashing into the forward’s leg.

The call left the U.S. team with nine players for the rest of the game. U.S. midfielder Pablo Mastroeni was tossed in the 45th minute for a sliding takedown against Andrea Pirlo, cleating the midfielder’s ankle.

Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi was ejected in the 28th minute for elbowing American forward Brian McBride in the face, leaving the Azzurri with 10 men.

With both players jumping for the ball, De Rossi swung his right elbow into McBride, just a few feet from Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda. As blood poured from McBride’s face, Larrionda pulled out a red card.

McBride remained in the game. The ejection occurred one minute after the United States tied the score 1-1 when a cross bounced off Italian defender Cristian Zaccardo and into the Azzurri goal.

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