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Czechs Dump U.S. in World Cup Opener, 3-0

The U.S. men's soccer team didn't make its debut in the 2006 World Cup as much as it endured it. In losing 3-0 to the Czech Republic, the Americans looked overmatched and outplayed.

The Czech Republic, ranked No. 2 in the world ratings, moved the ball quickly through the American defense, setting up Jan Koller for a header into the net off a crossing pass only five minutes into the match.

Koller would later go down with a leg injury, but despite his departure, the U.S. team could do little against the Czechs. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky finished with two goals.

With the win, the Czech Republic joined Italy atop the Group E rankings, with 3 points apiece. Italy earned a win over a determined Ghana team with two goals, one just before the first half ended and another toward the end of the match.

Their loss kept the U.S. team from winning its first-ever World Cup game on European soil. The team's record now stands at 0-8-1 on the continent.

In sports, there is always a next time. But with the next World Cup slated for 2010, fans of American soccer may have four long years to wait if the current squad doesn't make a better showing against Italy and Ghana.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.