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United States vs. South Korea

By RODNEY PAGE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 9, 2002

WHEN/WHERE: 2:25 a.m. Monday; Daegu, South Korea.

TV: ESPN2, Univision.

WORLD RANKING: United States No. 13, South Korea No. 40.

ROAD TO SOUTH KOREA: USA advanced for the fourth consecutive time by finishing third in CONCACAF (North and Central American countries). South Korea qualified automatically as a host country.

LAST MATCH: United States defeated Portugal 3-2, South Korea defeated Poland 2-0.

COACHES: United States -- Bruce Arena. South Korea -- Guus Hiddink.

KEY PLAYERS: United States -- Brian McBride, forward; DaMarcus Beasley, midfielder; Landon Donovan, forward; Eddie Pope, defender. South Korea -- Yoo Sang-Chul, midfielder; Hwang Sun-Hong, forward; Hong Myung-Bo, defender; Kim Byung-Ji, goalkeeper.

WHAT TO EXPECT: A trip to the second round is almost assured if either team manages a win and three points. Each was an upset winner in its first game, but neither is a surprise anymore.

The South Koreans won their first World Cup match in 15 tries in the opener against Poland. Expect a sea of red at the 68,014-seat Daegu Stadium. Sang-Chul was the man of the match against Poland after scoring the second goal. He also had several near misses and must be watched closely. Sang-Chul injured his knee later in the match but still could play. Sun-Hong also scored. He strained his lower back but likely will play. This is South Korea's fifth consecutive World Cup appearance, and with the home crowd behind it, the United States has its work cut out.

But then again, the United States had its work cut out against Portugal and won. Midfielder Claudio Reyna (strained right quadriceps) likely will play after sitting out the first match. Forward Clint Mathis (sore left knee) is questionable, and midfielder Earnie Stewart (groin strain) is doubtful. The United States will need 90 strong minutes from McBride, Pablo Mastroeni and Cobi Jones. McBride was sensational against Portugal. His header in the 36th minute was the winner. If Mathis and Reyna return, then the United States gets stronger. If not, it already proved it can win without them.

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