As they had in the previous two final round qualifiers, the Georgia duo of Clint Mathis and Josh Wolff led the U.S. attack tonight. Mathis, who was named the "Chevrolet Man of the Match," set up his former University of South Carolina teammate on the game's only goal in the 70th minute. U.S. defender Jeff Agoos volleyed a ball into the penalty box that dipped to the head of Mathis. Mathis rose in a tangle with Costa Rican defender Reynaldo Parks and was able to head the ball toward goal, where Josh Wolff quickly tapped it past sliding goalkeeper Erick Lonnis.
"The big picture is that we still haven't qualified for the World Cup, but I don't think we could have laid out a better picture than the one we have with nine points after three games," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, whose qualifying record improves to 6-1-2. "They were tough to break down, and we talked at halftime about how we had to jump on any kind of chance we got, which we did."
Playing for the first time in Kansas City since 1968, the pro-U.S. crowd helped the U.S. get off to an inspired start, holding the ball and attacking well from the outset of the match. The U.S. controlled play from the beginning and appeared to take the lead in the 16th minute when a clever chip by Wolff was cleared from the goal line.
U.S. captain Claudio Reyna bent a ball into the box to Wolff, who turned and blooped it past Lonnis, but Costa Rica's Parks cleared the ball off the goal line with a desperate bicycle kick. With the U.S. players calling for a goal and the Arrowhead crowd in a frenzy, referee assistant Fernando Cresci signaled the ball had not crossed the line and a disappointed U.S. team continued.
U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, playing in his first match with the U.S. in 2001, made six saves to record the shutout. The shutout was Keller's third straight in qualifying matches, and means that the U.S. has now recorded six shutouts in their last seven qualifying games and allowed only one goal in that stretch.
The midfield of Earnie Stewart, Tony Sanneh, Chris Armas and Reyna controlled the ball for the majority of the match and allowed the U.S. to fire an amazing 21 shots in the match. Amazingly, the game marked the first time Clint Mathis and Claudio Reyna have ever been on the field together.
With the win, the U.S. extended their home qualifying unbeaten streak to a whopping 18 games dating back to 1985 and also evened their record versus Costa Rica to 8-8-4 In 20 all-time matches. It was also the first time the U.S. has won three consecutive matches in the final round of qualifying. Futhermore, the United States has not yet surrendered a goal at home in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup with five home shutouts in five matches. The last time the U.S. allowed a goal in a home qualifier was on November 16, 1997, against El Salvador at Foxboro Stadium, a match played after the United States had assured itself a place in the World Cup Finals.
In today's early match in CONCACAF qualifying, Trinidad & Tobago held visiting Mexico to a 1-1 draw to earn their first point of the round. Trinidad & Tobago (0-2-1, 1 pt.) took an early lead on a goal from Marvin Andrews in the 14th minute, but surrendered a shorthanded goal to Mexico's Pavel Pardo in the 60th minute. Angus Eve of the home side was ejected in the 33rd and Rafael Marquez was ejected in the 74th as both teams finished the match with ten men. Mexico stands at (1-1-1, 4 pts.). Honduras (0-1-2, 2 pt.) and Jamaica (1-1-1, 4 pts.) also played to a 1-1 draw this evening at Kingston National Stadium.
Next up for the Americans is a June 7 encounter against South American foe Ecuador, who the U.S. has never defeated, at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
The U.S. will return to CONCACAF qualifying on June 16, when they travel to Jamaica for a match that will be broadcast live on ABC at 2 p.m. (ET).
2001 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. Costa Rica|
|Competition:||CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying - Final Round|
|Venue:||Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)|
|Date:||April 25, 2001 - Kickoff 6:30 p.m. CT|
|Weather:||72 degrees (Clear, sunny, warm)|
USA - Josh Wolff (Clint Mathis), 70.
USA - 1-Kasey Keller; 6-David Regis, 12-Jeff Agoos, 16-Carlos Llamosa, 2-Steve Cherundolo; 14- Clint Armas, 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.; Gregg Berhalter, 90), 8-Earnie Stewart, 22-Tony Sanneh; 5-Clint Mathis (7-Eddie Lewis, 81), 15-Josh Wolff (11-Ante Razov, 71).
CRC - 1-Erick Lonnis; 2-Jervis Drummond, 21-Reynaldo Parks (Capt.), 5-Gilberto Martinez; 22-Carlos Castro (20-William Sunsing, 75), 19-Rodrigo Cordero (11-Ronald Gomez, 79), 15-Harold Wallace, 7- Roland Fonseca; 16-Steven Bryce (8-Mauricio Solis, 60), 9-Paulo Wanchope, 17-Hernan Medford.
|Cheverolet Man of the Match: Clint Mathis|