The U.S. was led by the controlling midfield play of Bobby Convey (D.C. United) and Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids), who took turns assisting Eddie Johnson (Dallas Burn) for goals in the 12th and 50th minutes, respectively. Convey, who scored a goal of his own in the 27th minute for a 2-0 halftime lead, speared the relentless U.S. attack and was named Chevrolet Player of the Match in his debut appearance with the U-23s in 2003.
The USA blew the game open late in the second half as they finally started finishing some of the overly abundant chances they created by getting behind a pourous St. Kitts/Nevis back line. Forward Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew) struck for back-to-back goals in the 78th and 81st minutes and second-half sub Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United) added a final strike in the 87th minute as the U.S. wore down the home team for the lopsided final result.
"I'm very happy to get the victory. A lot of good things came out of tonight's game," said U.S. U-23 MNT head coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick, whose record improved to 4-1-3 in 2003. "But you saw some players who haven't been playing (professionally) on a regular basis, who know that they can do a little bit better with regards to the final pass and finishing."
"While we scored six goals, we really could have easily been pretty far into double digits (for goals) with a little more decisiveness and quality in terms of the finish."
The U.S. pushed forward and applied pressure from the opening whistle, earning the first of eight corner kicks just 40 seconds into the match. In the 4th minute, the U.S. had its first good opportunity when Johnson was freed on the left flank and was left with only goalkeeper Kayian Benjamin to beat, but he put his shot high over the crossbar.
The U.S. broke through in the 12th minute on a play that would prove deadly all night, with Convey serving a perfect through ball that beat the offside trap and found a streaking Johnson, who made no mistake this time, beating the 'keeper to his left.
The USA doubled its lead in the 27th minute after a long series of possession that ended with Convey dribbling at two St. Kitts/Nevis defenders. The D.C. United midfielder was dispossesed, but then applied pressure to steal the ball back and turned to surprise the Benjamin with a low shot that skipped off his left hand and inside the right post to make it 2-0.
St. Kitts formed a dangerous multi-player attack with a push in the 38th minute to try and draw a goal back, but left back Chris Wingert (St. John's University) stuffed speedy forward Jevon Francis in a one-on-one isolation in the penalty area.
St. Kitts/Nevis had an even better chance in the first minute of the second half, as defender Oguchi Onyewu (R.A.A. Louviere -- Belgium) got beat on the dribble by Dachan Jarvis, who played a square ball to midfielder Alister Warner all alone at the penalty spot, but the SKN playmaker muffed his shot high into the air and it was headed out of danger.
From then on, it was all U.S., as Johnson again chased down a through ball by Beckerman in stride and roofed a shot over the 5'9" Benjamin in the 50th minute.
Buddle turned it on in the last 35 minutes of the game as the defense wore down, almost getting his first goal of the night after collecting a through ball and drawing out the 'keeper, but his shot rolled a foot wide and was a step ahead of forward David Testo (Richmond Kickers) crashing at the far post.
Eskandarian had the first two of his three breakaways stuffed by the diminutive, but athletic St. Kitts/Nevis shot-stopper, as he raced off his line and blocked both efforts in the 60th and 64th minutes.
It was St. Kitts turn to fail to convert a breakaway in the 64th minute, as Francis was freed up the middle and sailed his chip of U.S. goalkeeper D.J. Countess a few feet wide right.
Buddle made his second and third chances count, scoring off a 2-on-1 feed from Eskandarian in the 78th minute and then tapping home a Nat Borchers (Colorado Rapids) header off a Brian Carroll (D.C. United) corner kick in the 81st minute.
Eskandarian proved that the third time is the charm by deservedly scoring the sixth and final goal in the 87th minute, pouncing on yet another through ball and chipping the 'keeper with confidence before he could try to get in front of the shot. With the goal, Eskandarian (2 goals and 2 assists) joins Buddle (3 goals) for the team scoring lead with six points apiece.
Countess preserved the shutout by coming out to win a 50-50 ball with Jarvis and then smothering a well-taken, low free kick from 25 yards out in the 89th minute.
The team will use tomorrow on the island as a rejuvenation day before travelling most of Monday to the D.C. area, where they will prepare to host the second leg of the home-and-home series on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md., a suburb west of Washington, D.C.
St. Kitts & Nevis enters the match needing to win by seven goals to advance on aggregate goals, with away goals being the first tie-breaker. As they did tonight, fans can follow the action via live web updates on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
Participants: United States vs. St. Kitts & Nevis
Competition: CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying – Second Round
Venue: Warner Park – Basseterre, St. Kitts
Date: November 15, 2003 – 7 p.m. local / 6 p.m. ET
Weather: 85 degrees; overcast, hot, muggy
Attendance: 7,000 (approx.)
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
St. Kitts & Nevis 0 0 0
USA 2 4 6
USA – Eddie Johnson (Bobby Convey) 12th minute.
USA – Bobby Convey (unassisted) 27.
USA – Eddie Johnson (Kyle Beckerman) 50.
USA – Edson Buddle (Alecko Eskandarian) 78.
USA – Edson Buddle (Nat Borchers) 81.
USA – Alecko Eskandarian (unassisted) 87.
SKN (4-4-2): 1-Kayian Benjamin; 2-Darrel Challenger (12-Alrick Edwards, 67), 3-Sheldon Lawrence (Capt.), 6-Keithroy Eddy, 5-Thrizen Leader; 8-Atiba Harris, 4-Ajani Millard, 11-Sashi Isaac, 7-Alistair Warner; 9-Jevon Francis, 10-Dachan Jarvis.
Subs Not Used: 13-Oge Samuel; 14-Stephen Clarke, 15-Jahren Leader, 16-Rashi Hodge, 17-Aiden Nurse, 18-Zevon Archibald.
Head Coach: Elvis “Star” Brown.
USA (4-4-2): 1-D.J. Countess; 12-Chris Wingert, 6-Nat Borchers, 4-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Ricky Lewis; 5-Kyle Beckerman, 23-Eddie Johnson, 7-Ricardo Clark (15-Brian Carroll, 65), 10-Bobby Convey (Capt.; 21-Kyle Martino, 74); 9-David Testo (11-Alecko Eskandarian, 58), 14-Edson Buddle.
Subs Not Used: 18-Doug Warren; 8-Jordan Stone, 17-David Stokes, 22-Eddie Gaven.
Head Coach: Glenn “Mooch” Myernick.
Statistical Summary: SKN USA
Shots 5 20
Saves 7 3
Corner Kicks 2 6
Fouls 8 7
Offside 4 10
SKN – Atiba Harris (caution) 31st minute.
USA – Eddie Johnson (caution) 51.
USA – Nat Borchers (caution) 72.
USA – D.J. Countess (caution) 83.
USA – Kyle Martino (caution) 85.
Referee: Carlos Batres (GUA)
Assistant Referee #1: Gregorio Espinoza (GUA)
Assistant Referee #2: Fredy De Paz (GUA)
Fourth Official: Otto Bejia (GUA)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Bobby Convey