U.S. National Team Drops New Zealand, 2-1, in Confederations Cup Opener
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Saturday, July 24, 1999) - In front of a sun-drenched capacity crowd of 60,000 at Jalisco Stadium, the U.S. National Team defeated New Zealand today, 2-1, on the opening day of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup. The victory puts the U.S. in second place on goal-differential in Group B action, behind Brazil, who defeated Germany, 4-0, in the tournament's opening game.
"I'm happy with the three points (for the victory), but disappointed in the final result," said U.S. Head Coach Bruce Arena. "We felt we played well enough to win by a few more goals."
After some sustained pressure early in the match, Brian McBride finally put the U.S. ahead in the 26th minute. Jovan Kirovski collected a ball on the left side and sent a driven cross into the U.S. penalty area. McBride, unmarked and charging the cross in full stride, met the ball with a bullet header that found the left corner of the net, out of reach of New Zealand 'keeper Michael Utting. The goal was McBride's eighth in 30 international appearances.
The Kiwis nearly tied the score four minutes later when midfielder Chris Jackson controlled the ball inside the USA's six-yard box. Jackson muscled past a defender near the left post, but found Kasey Keller diving at his feet to deflect his attempted shot.
The USA doubled the lead with a deserving goal by Kirovski in the 58th minute. Eddie Lewis, who moments earlier had a left-footed blast saved brilliantly by Utting, served a corner kick from the left side into the penalty area. Kirovski out-jumped his defender and snapped a header into the net from seven yards out, his 6th goal in 31 appearances.
After the second goal, Keller again made a superb save to hold off the Kiwis. This time, Keller went low and to his right in the 60th minute to parry wide a point-blank shot by Aaran Lines, New Zealand's speedy leftwinger.
In injury time, however, New Zealand captain Chris Zoricich netted a world-class goal off a free kick from 24 yards to cut the final scoreline in half. The defender stepped up and hit a bending ball with the outside of his right foot that hooked away from Keller and into the right corner, ruining the American shutout bid.
In the first game here today, Brazil soundly defeated Germany, 4-0, behind single goals from Ze Roberto and Ronaldinho, and two from Alex. The recently crowned Copa America champs dismantled the Germans in the second half with four unanswered strikes.
"Brazil proved today that they are one of the best teams in the world," continued Arena. "It will be a great challenge and a great experience for us as a team."
The United States will continue on in the tournament this week, playing the mighty Brazilians on Wednesday (July 28; 8:30 p.m. ET) and Germany on Friday (July 30; 6 p.m. ET). Should the team advance as one of the top two teams in Group B, the USA will play a semifinal match on Sunday (Aug. 1) in either Guadalajara or Mexico City.
1999 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. New Zealand|
|Competition:||1999 FIFA Confederations Cup|
|Venue:||Jalisco Stadium (Guadalajara, Mexico)|
|Date:||July 24, 1999 (2:30 p.m. CT kickoff)|
|Weather:||90 degrees - Sunny|
USA - Brian McBride, (Jovan Kirovski), 25,
USA - Jovan Kirovski, (Eddie Lewis), 58,
NZ - Chris Zoricich, (unassisted), 93+.
USA - Kasey Keller (Capt.), Jeff Agoos, Carlos Llamosa, Robin Fraser, Richie Williams, John Harkes, Eddie Lewis (Frankie Hejduk, 76), Ernie Stewart (Ben Olsen, 73), Jovan Kirovski, Brian McBride, Cobi Jones (Joe-Max Moore, 82).
NZ - Michael Utting, Ivan Vicelich, Sean Douglas (Scott Smith, 73), Chris Zoricich (Capt.), Aaran Lines, Gavin Wilkinson, Chris Jackson, Mark Atkinson (Ryan Nelsen, 57), Mark Burton, Kris Bouckenhooghe, Vaughan Covney (Mark Elrick, 62).
|Vaughan Coveny (caution)||32.|