PASADENA, Calif. (Saturday, February 2, 2002) - The U.S. Men’s National Team downed Costa Rica 2-0 this afternoon at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., to claim their second all-time CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, having previously won the inaugural tournament in 1991.
Forward Josh Wolff and defender Jeff Agoos tallied goals for the U.S., while a strong defensive performance helped goalkeeper Kasey Keller record his fourth straight shutout in the tournament. The U.S. allowed just one goal in their five-game run to the tournament title, outscoring their opposition 9 to 1.
“I thought we had an outstanding performance today and certainly deserved to be the champions,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “We improved in every game in the tournament. This victory means a lot. We faced a lot of criticism last year, maybe some deserved; most unwarranted. Even in the beginning of this tournament we took a lot of criticism. So for the guys to work hard and be deserving of this cup is very special for both the players and the coaching staff. My evaluation of them is that a number of them will be fighting for roster spots on the World Cup team.”
The first U.S. goal came in the 37th minute off the boot of Wolff, who outraced the Costa Rican defense to get on the end of a great ball out of the back from defender Frankie Hejduk. Wolff held off his marker and slotted his shot home from the top of the penalty area with his left foot, tucking it inside the right post past Costa Rican goalkeeper Erick Lonnis. The goal was the fourth of Wolff’s career, his last coming against Costa Rica back on April 25, 2001, in a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win for the U.S. in Kansas City, Mo.
"I've had my difficulties in the tournament so far," said Wolff. "But that's life as a forward. You have to stick with it and know that if you're getting your chances you're doing something right. To be able to stick one in certainly gives me a lot of confidence."
In the 63rd minute, veteran defender Jeff Agoos hit a 25-yard free kick from the top of the area that spun perfectly into the right side netting of the goal. For Agoos, the tally was his fourth all-time for the U.S. and his first in six years, dating all the way back to January 21, 1996 (in a 3-0 victory over Guatemala).
Just 12 minutes after Agoos’ free kick goal, Landon Donovan had an attempt from almost the same spot on the field and hit his well-placed ball off the crossbar.
The U.S. improved to 4-0 against Costa Rica in the Gold Cup, and the teams are now even at 9-9-4 against each other in 22 all-time meetings.
At the conclusion of the tournament, U.S. forward Brian McBride was named the Gold Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner as the competition’s MVP and top scorer with four goals. It was McBride who hit a hat trick in the USA’s 4-0 dismantling of El Salvador in the quarterfinals on January 27 and scored on a well-taken penalty kick to enable the U.S. to oust Canada in the semifinals on January 30 on penalty kicks (4-2). In today's third-place match, Canada defeated Korea 2-1.
"I was really impressed by the way we came together," said McBride. "Winning definitely breeds confidence, but along with that we came together as a team on the field and off. Individual awards are great, but they are sort of a side bar. It's not something you really set out to do. To be honest, the only reason I won this is because of my teammates."
The win marked a special occasion for Cobi Jones, who earned his 150th cap for the United States. Wearing the captain's armband, Jones moved into a tie for fourth place on the all-time list with German legend Lothar Matthaus.
"It's an awesome feeling. You can't ask for a better result for your 150th cap than to win a championship. It's definitely a benchmark for me. It makes you look back on all the years and all the things I've gone through. I've had a great time with the national team. Hopefully it continues for a little bit longer."
Next up for the U.S. is the first of three high-caliber European matches on the team’s pre-World Cup schedule, with the team traveling to Italy to take on the three-time World Cup champions in Sicily on February 13. After that game, the U.S. will return home to take on Honduras in Seattle on March 2 and Ecuador in Birmingham, Ala., on March 10. The team then travels back to Europe for matches against Germany and Ireland on March 27 and April 17, respectively.
— U.S. Men's National Team Game Report —
Participants: USA vs. Costa Rica
Competition: FC Gold Cup 2002 – Final
Venue: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Date: February 2, 2002 – 12:00 p.m. (PT) kick-off
Weather: 69 degrees; warm and sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F
Costa Rica 0 - 0 - 0
United States 1 - 1 - 2
USA – Josh Wolff (Frankie Hejduk), 37.
USA – Jeff Agoos (unassisted), 63.
CRC: 1-Erick Lonnis; 5-Gilberto Martinez, 3-Luis Marin (10-Walter Centeno, 46), 21-,Reynaldo Parks; 22-Carlos Castro, 8-Mauricio Solis, 6-Wilmer Lopez, 16-Steven Bryce, 15-Harold Wallace (17-Hernan Medford, 59); 11- Ronald Gomez, 9-Paulo Wanchope.
Subs not used: 4-Max Sanchez, 13-Geovanny Jara, 14-Austin Berry, 18-Alvaro Mesen, 20-William Sunsing.
USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 25-Pablo Mastroeni, 12-Jeff Agoos, 17-Carlos Bocanegra; 13-Cobi Jones - capt. (9-Brian West, 85), 14-Chris Armas, 7-Eddie Lewis, 21-Landon Donovan; 20-Brian McBride (5-Clint Mathis, 89), 15-Josh Wolff (8-Richie Williams, 79).
Subs not used: 1-Tony Meola, 4-DaMarcus Beasley, 8-Richie Williams, 10-Brian Maisonneuve, 26-Danny Califf.
Statistical Summary: CRC - USA
Shots 12 - 16
Saves 2 - 4
Corner Kicks 5 - 12
Fouls 21 - 12
Offside 3 - 6
USA – Chris Armas (caution), 17.
CRC – Steven Bryce (caution), 74.
USA – Clint Mathis (caution), 91+.
Referee: Carlos Batres (GUA)
Assistant Referee: Michael Ragoonath (TRI)
Assistant Referee: Curtis Charles (ATG)
4th Official: Jose Pineda (GUA)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Josh Wolff