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Arena shows he has grasp of game's history

By Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY

This is what one corner of the world thinks about Americans and soccer.

Question from German reporter to U.S. coach Bruce Arena: "Do you know that a Bundesliga club plays in the stadium?"

Arena: "Yes. (Hansa) Rostock. I know I'm an American and all, but I do know a little something. I had another coach of a club team in England he's a very famous footballer with a lot of World Cup experience and he mentioned to me, 'I used to play on the national team.' That's like Pele telling me 'I used to play on the national team.' That's how people think Americans are. That we know nothing about the game, the tradition or the history. I know a little something."

The USA is 2-4 against Germany and had an 0-2 record against East Germany.

On the bubble: Of all the U.S. players, midfielder Landon Donovan was certainly the most closely watched by German fans. In 1999 Donovan, then 17, signed with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. But after playing on the reserve team and being homesick, he left the next year for MLS' San Jose Earthquakes. Donovan is considering returning to Leverkusen the Bundesliga's first-place team at the end of this MLS season. His agent met with the club Tuesday.

"Contractually, I'm obligated to stay with the MLS through the end of the MLS season," said Donovan, who is on loan to MLS. "However, it's a negotiation. What happens with MLS and Leverkusen is beyond me. I let them work that out." Leverkusen officials attended the game.

Arena said, "Landon is 20 years old. It was a difficult game physically for him. (Midfielder) Jens Jeremies did a good job getting around him a number of times."

Etc.: Forward Brian McBride, who turned an ankle in an MLS game last weekend, did not play. Midfielder John O'Brien, who injured his groin in Monday's practice, also sat out the game. The USA also was without its captain, Claudio Reyna, because of a hamstring injury and club commitments with Sunderland of the English Premier League. ... Germany's top goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn, who plays for Bayern Munich, the defending European champion, was rested. Goalkeeper Frank Rost, who is competing for the third spot on the roster, started. Hans Jorg Butt, also competing for the third spot, entered the game at the half. ... Kasey Keller started in goal for the USA as expected. He broke his streak of five shutouts in 2002 and is 5-1-1 this year. ... The Americans will meet Mexico on April 3 in Denver.

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