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Twellman silences critics with hat trick in USA’s 5-0 victory over Norway
Taylor Twellman recorded just the 9th hat trick in US Men’s National Team history in a 5-0 dismantling of Norway on January 29th. Twellman, who had scored only once in his previous 14 international appearances had been criticized for failing to convert his great goal scoring totals in MLS to the international stage. Twellman was not the only New England Revolution player to make an impact on the game as Clint Dempsey dazzled the Norwegians with his dribbling and he and Pat Noonan both assisted on one of Twellman’s goals. The match was the second friendly of the year so far in preparation for the upcoming World Cup. A week earlier the US only managed a scoreless draw with Canada.

Both Dempsey and Noonan showed their versatility as they played out of their normal positions and played right and left midfield, respectively.

28 Americans from leagues currently in their offseasons (27 are from MLS, with the other currently playing in Denmark) are in the National Team camp in hope of making one of the 23 final roster spots for the World Cup. Arena has stated the 23 spots will likely be filled half with Americans playing in Europe and half with Americans playing domestically in MLS. Twellman and Dempsey were two of several players who certainly improved their chances of making the roster with their play against Norway. Revolution midfielder Steve Ralston and goalkeeper Matt Reis are both also in camp, but did not play a part in the match.

Just 5 minutes into the game, the US took the lead when Dempsey sent in a high cross from outside the penalty area. The ball found Twellman, who took a touch to settle it before hammering it into the back of the net with his left foot.

The US doubled the lead five minutes later when Dempsey earned a free kick for the US just outside the box. Todd Dunivant, making his first ever appearance for the US, sent in a cross that Twellman beat his defender to and headed past goalie Espen Johnsen for his second goal of the night.

Dempsey came inches short of scoring a spectacular goal in the 27th minute, when he received the ball near midfield. Dempsey dribbled down the center of the field before sending a long shot over Johnsen from about 30 yards. The long-range blast left Jonsen helpless but hit off the crossbar and came back into play. Dempsey later in the match had a goal disallowed on a very questionable offside call.

Veteran defender Eddie Pope made it 3-0 after half time, when he got on the end of a pass from Todd Dunivant. Pope easily redirected the pass on target from close range for the score.

Twellman finished off his hat trick nine minutes later, when Pat Noonan broke free on the left side of the box and sent in a perfect cross for his Revolution teammate to head past Johnsen.

“He scored three goals. That’s sometimes how you are graded as a striker,” said Head Coach Bruce Arena to of Twellman’s performance. “If that's the case, he gets an 'A' for today. All three goals were great. He also at one point in the first half made a great play defensively. Taylor is getting used to what we ask out of our forwards, and I think he played well.”

Chris Klein, who entered the game in the 77th minute for Pat Noonan, finished off the scoring three minutes from the end of regulation time. Landon Donovan got the rebound of a saved Nate Jaqua cross and sent it back to an onrushing Klein who powered it into the top of the net to finish the scoring.

While certainly not locking up spots yet, both Dempsey and Twellman can feel they’ve moved a lot closer to a spot in the World Cup. The US next face Japan on February 10th in San Francisco. The game can be seen live on ESPN2 at 10PM eastern time.
February 01, 2006 Sean Donahue


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