FOXBORO, Mass. (September 4, 2004) – The U.S. Men’s National Team earned an important three points with a solid 2-0 win over El Salvador in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Saturday in front of 25,266 fans at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. Forward Brian Ching provided the heroics again, knocking in the game winner in the fifth minute after providing a crucial equalizer in the 89th minute of the USA’s last match, a 1-1 draw on the road versus Jamaica in Kingston on August 18.
Ching’s goal came after a give-and-go with left back Bobby Convey outside the El Salvador area, with Convey serving a looping ball into the middle of the box that Ching snapped past Rivera and off the right post.
The game was injected with some rather bizarre drama midway through the half, as midfielder Denis Alas received a second yellow card caution in the 26th minute and was ejected from the match. The ejection came during an injury stoppage for DaMarcus Beasley as the referee’s noticed that Alas was wearing a necklace. Wearing jewelry during a match is grounds for an automatic caution, a rule which was addressed by the officiating crew in the match commissioner’s meeting on Friday.
Alas, who had received a yellow card for a harsh foul on Convey in the eighth minute, was ejected from the match, prompting El Salvador head coach Juan Paredes to heatedly argue the referee’s decision. Following some vehement exchanges in front of the fourth official’s table, Paredes was ejected from the match in the 29th minute by referee Neal Brizan of Trinidad & Tobago.
Now a man down, El Salvador put eight players behind the ball and bunkered in on defense. The U.S. continued to control possession, but could not break through again in the first half, which ended with a whopping eight minutes of stoppage time due to the ejections and multiple injuries.
In the 59th minute, the match got ugly again with El Salvador defender Alfredo Pacheco grabbing the jersey of Reyna on a breakaway and fouling him viciously, resulting in one of the game’s five yellow cards. Moments later, Beasley took a deliberate cleat to the face from goalkeeper Santos Rivera after the wiry midfielder dove to try to head home a cross from the right flank. While the cross sailed diagonally across the box and out for a goal kick, Rivera took the chance to cleat Beasley by scraping his face with the bottom of his boot, which neither the referee or fourth official witnessed.
The U.S. had a great opportunity to make it 2-0 in the 63rd minute, when a series up top between Reyna and Ching in the El Salvador area ended with the ball being played square to Cherundolo, who blasted the ball over the crossbar from 12 yards out.
The U.S. did get a second goal five minutes later off a great individual effort from Landon Donovan, who received a ball from Cherundolo on the right flank about 30 yards from goal. After carrying the ball down the field, he quickly cut back along the top of the penalty area and beat two defenders, uncorking a low left-footed blast that squirted past a frozen Rivera inside the left post.
The U.S. made a trio of offensive substitutions over the final 25 minutes, putting experienced midfielder Cobi Jones in for Steve Cherundolo to switch the formation to a 3-5-2, then putting World Cup veteran forwards Brian McBride and Clint Mathis on for Conor Casey and Kerry Zavagnin, respectively.
Both forwards had chances to make it 3-0 during the game’s final moments. McBride had a good look at goal in the 84th minute, when Ching chested down a long ball into his path at the top of the box, but McBride crushed his shot wide left of the goal. Mathis had a similar look at goal a minute later, sending his shot screaming over the crossbar.
In all, the U.S. line-up featured three players making their first ever World Cup qualifying starts, with Tim Howard earning his fifth career shutout for the MNT and Zavagnin and Ching earning their eighth and fourth caps overall. For Ching, the game also marked his first ever start for the USA. Second half sub Cobi Jones earned his 162nd cap, extending his team record, and also registered his 28th World Cup qualifying appearance, second only to Earnie Stewart’s 30.
The U.S. team will remain in Boston until Tuesday when they travel to face Panama at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez on Wednesday, Sept. 8 in Panama City. Kickoff for that match is set for 8 p.m. CT, and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports World and tape delayed on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET & PT. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips.
After Panama, the four-team group concludes for the U.S. with a road game on Oct. 9 in El Salvador and then consecutive home games on Oct. 13 against Panama in Washington, D.C., and Nov. 17 against Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio. The top two teams in the group will advance to the final round of qualifying.
Match-up: USA vs. El Salvador
Date: September 4, 2004
Competition: 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier – Semifinal Round
Venue: Gillette Stadium – Foxboro, Mass.
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Weather: 78 degrees; sunny, breezy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
El Salvador 0 0 0
USA – Brian Ching (Bobby Convey) 5th minute.
USA – Landon Donovan (Steve Cherundolo) 69.
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo (13-Cobi Jones, 69), 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 12-Cory Gibbs, 15-Bobby Convey; 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.), 5-Kerry Zavagnin (11-Clint Mathis, 82), 21-Landon Donovan, 17-DaMarcus Beasley; 25-Brian Ching, 9-Conor Casey (20-Brian McBride, 76).
Subs not used: 18-Kasey Keller, 2-Frankie Hejduk, 3-Greg Vanney, 7-Eddie Lewis.
Head Coach: Bruce Arena.
SLV: 1-Santos Rivera; 4-Mario Guevara, 5-Victor Velasquez (Capt.), 6-Erick Prado, 19-Alfredo Pacheco; 12-Denis Alas (ejected, 26), 17-Jorge Rodriguez, 18-Gilberto Murgas, 8-Edwin Gonzalez (7-Victor Merino, 46); 21-Josue Galdamez (9-Diego Mejia, 46), 11-Ronald Cerritos.
Subs not used: 25-Miguel Montes, 2-Alexander Rosales, 3-Marvin Gonzalez, 20-William Torres, 24-Jose Urbina.
Head Coach: Juan Paredes (ejected, 29).
Stats Summary: USA SLV
Shots 19 1
Saves 0 4
Corner Kicks 8 2
Fouls 16 19
Offside 0 3
SLV – Denis Alas (caution) 8th minute.
USA – Bobby Convey (caution) 18.
SLV – Denis Alas (caution) 26.
SLV – Denis Alas (ejection) 26.
USA – Conor Casey (caution) 49.
SLV – Alfredo Pacheco (caution) 57.
Referee: Neal Brizan (TRI)
1st Asst.: Solomon Brewster (TRI)
2nd Asst.: Merere Louis Gonzales (TRI)
Fourth Official: Jaggernath Goolcharan (TRI)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Claudio Reyna