U.S. Falls 2-1 to Host Morocco in Final Friendly of 1999
With the loss, the U.S. finishes the year with an impressive 7-4-2 record under head coach Bruce Arena, who guided the team to a third place finish in the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup and to victories over Argentina, Chile and Germany (twice) in his first full year at the helm.
The sold out crowd of 18,000-plus was treated to a dynamic end-to-end match, which saw both teams play wide-open, attacking soccer. Morocco opened the scoring in the 15th minute with midfielder Adil Ramzi slotting a ball home from eight yards out. Forward Salaheddine Bassir began the play from the left wing, beating a defender and driving a low, line-drive into the penalty area. The U.S. came right back in the 17th minute with Wynalda (Miami Fusion, MLS) scoring his record goal after collecting a long-ball out of the midfield from Chad Deering (Dallas Burn, MLS) and hitting a right foot shot into the lower left corner of the goal.
The tie was short-lived, however, and Morocco went ahead again in the 26th minute on a penalty kick by reigning African Player of the Year Mustapha Hadji, who drove the ball low and to the left corner to beat U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano, Spain). The penalty was set-up by a 25th-minute foul by Keller on Bassir in the penalty area.
"I don't think I touched him (Bassir) on the play," said Keller. "But in that situation, with us playing in front of such a loud crowd, you can't really expect to get calls like that in our favor. It's a tough way to lose, but we played well and everyone who saw the game knows it."
The U.S. almost tied the match in the 65th minute with Jovan Kirovski (Borussia Dortmund, Germany) collecting a ball at midfield and dribbling 40 yards, before seeing his well struck shot from the top of the penalty area slapped wide of the post for a corner kick.
The game marked just the second-ever appearance for the USA on the African continent, where the team dropped to 0-2 lifetime, having previously lost in Morocco, 3-1, on March 18, 1992.
Next up for the U.S. is a match against Iran on January 16 from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. More than 6,000 tickets have already been sold for the contest, Iran's first-ever appearance in the USA, which will be televised live on ESPN at 2 p.m. PT.
1999 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. Morocco National Team|
|Venue:||Harti Stadium (Marrakech, Morocco)|
|Date:||November 17, 1999 - kickoff 7 p.m. (local); 2 p.m. (ET)|
|Weather:||55 degrees - Cool, Crisp, Clear|
MOR - Salaheddine Bassir, (Adil Ramzi), 15,
USA - Eric Wynalda, (Chad Deering), 17,
MOR - Mustapha Hadji (penalty kick), 27.
USA - Kasey Keller (Brad Friedel, 46), David Regis, Gregg Berhalter, C.J. Brown, Frankie Hejduk, Chris Armas, Chad Deering, Claudio Reyna, Jovan Kirovski, Joe-Max Moore (Steve Ralston, 76), Eric Wynalda (Jason Kreis, 59).
MOR - Khalid Fouhami, Lahcen Abrami, Youssef Mariana, Nourreddine Naybet, Abdelilah Fahmi, Tahar El Khalej, Said Chiba, Youssef Chippo (Abdelilah Saber, 46; Rachid Benmahmoud, 72), Mustapha Hadji, Adil Ramzi (Redouane El Allaly, 75), Salaheddine Bassir.
|Gregg Berhalter (caution)||24,|
|Lahcen Abrami (caution)||73.|