GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Thursday, February 12, 2004) - The U.S. Under-23 MNT tied Honduras, 1-1 tonight in the Third Place match of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament before falling 4-3 on penalty kicks to finish fourth in the tournament.
Alecko Eskandarian and Emil Martinez each tallied their fourth goal of the tournament during regulation to move into a tie for the event's scoring leader with Bobby Convey and Mexico midfielder Diego Martinez, who scored on a questionable 98th minute penalty kick in their 1-0 golden goal win over Costa Rica tonight to win the tournament.
In the penalty kick round, Honduras converted all four of its attempts, while goalkeeper Donis Escobar saved shots by Logan Pause in the second round and Brad Davis in the fifth round to clinch third place for Honduras.
Like the previous match between the two teams, a 4-3 loss on Feb. 7 in which both teams rested their top players and those with existing yellow card cautions, the U.S. controlled the majority of the play, only allowing Honduras back into the match by virtue of penalty kick goals. In fact, of the four goals that Honduras scored against the U.S. in the two matches, three of those were from penalties.
This time out, while Honduras was missing just their back-up goalkeeper and fielded 19 players, the U.S. was reduced to 14 players due to the loss of their top attacking trio -- midfielders DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey and forward Landon Donovan -- and defenders Nat Borchers (two yellows in the previous match) and Ricky Lewis (two yellows in last three matches) to suspension, as well as Zak Whitbread, who was injured in the team's opening 4-3 win over Panama.
The U.S. had their first good chance on goal in the 22nd minute, with defender Jose Luis Burciaga getting a head on a Brad Davis corner kick, but it was saved by Escobar. Just three minutes later, Eskandarian's free kick was just a foot high of the crossbar.
After going into halftime tied 0-0, the U.S. needed just five minutes in the second half to strike for a 1-0 lead. The series started with Gaven on the left flank, who found forward David Testo at the top of the box. Testo deftly back-heeled a perfect square pass into the path of Eskandarian, who took a quick touch and finished past Escobar in the 50th minute.
Eskandarian almost made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute, beating defender Maynor Figueroa into the box and firing a shot that Escobar was forced to save over the bar.
The U.S. had another golden opportunity to increase its lead in the 68th minute, when Davis sent a perfect cross from the left touchline over the head of a defender to Testo in the box, but his right-footed volley from 15 yards out rocked the crossbar and was cleared.
Honduras almost equalized in the 71st minute, as second-half sub Israel Abidan Solis beat defender Chris Wingert one-on-one, dribbling in on the right side of the box, but his hot clanged off the right post and out for goal kick.
The "catrachos" got their equalizer on a difficult penalty kick call on Burciaga, who went shoulder to shoulder with Wilson Palacios, with the midfielder sprawling out in the box. Midfielder Emil Martinez stepped up to convert the resulting penalty kick under the arms of a diving Warren in the 76th minute.
The U.S. had a few other challenges late in the match after forward Ed Johnson was brought on for Testo, but could not find the go-ahead goal. Clearly heading to at least one 15-minute overtime, golden goal period, the U.S. got a break when defender Hendry Thomas received a red card and was ejected in the 90th minute after elbowing midfielder Kyle Beckerman after a battle over a 50-50 ball.
But even playing a man up, the U.S. U-23s could not solve the opposition, who resorted to bunkering in for almost the entire 30 minutes of scoreless regulation. Honduras waited until an opportune counter in the 118th minute to go for the game winner, breaking out into 4-on-3 breakaway, but they squandered it with the U.S. recovering and Chevrolet Man of the Match Logan Pause tackling the ball out for corner kick.
In the penalty kick shootout, after Gaven converted, Pause's shot was saved. Johnson and Eskandarian converted the next two attempts, but Davis's fifth round attempt was also saved, giving Honduras the final 4-3 result after they were perfect on each of their attempts.
Sadly, the loss represented the final match for all but one of the 20 players on the USA's final Olympic Qualifying roster. Midfielder Eddie Gaven, who won't turn 18 until October 2004, will have a chance to play on the next Under-20 Men's National Team for the 2005 World Youth Championship, as well as the next Under-23 MNT that will be looking to qualify for Beijing 2008.
Finally, CONCACAF announced earlier today that midfielder Bobby Convey and forward Landon Donovan were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
- U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team Match Report -
Participants: United States Under-23 Men's National Team vs. Honduras
Competition: Final CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying – Third Place Match
Venue: Estadio Jalisco – Guadalajara, Mexico
Date: February 12, 2004 – 5:30 p.m. local / CT
Weather: 74 degrees; sunny, clear
Attendance: 10,000 (approx.)
Scoring Summary: 1 2 OT 2OT PKs
USA 0 1 0 0 3
Honduras 0 1 0 0 4
USA – Alecko Eskandarian (David Testo) 50th minute.
HON – Emil Martinez (penalty kick) 76.
Penalty Kick Summary:
USA: Eddie Gaven (goal), Logan Pause (saved), Ed Johnson (goal), Alecko Eskandarian (goal), Brad Daivs (saved)
HON: Roland Maradiaga (goal), Sergio Mendoza (goal), Mauricio Castro (goal), Israel Abidan Solis (good),
HON (4-5-1): 1-Donis Escobar; 3-Maynor Figueroa, 20-Hendry Thomas, 24-Víctor Bernárdez, 5-Nery Medina; 13-Samir Arzu (15-Ronald Maradiaga, 31), 19-Mario Berrios (11-Israel Abidán Solis, 56), 7-Emil Martinez (6-Sergio Mendoza, 81), 16-Mauricio Castro, 8-Wilson Placios; 21-Jerry Palacios ©.
Subs Not Used: 4-Clifford Laing, 9-Alex Andino, 10-Walter Martinez, 17-Roy Posas, 18-Jeff Brook.
Head Coach: Edwin Pavon.
USA (4-4-2): 18-Doug Warren; 16-Chris Wingert (14-Chad Marshall, 91), 2-Jose Luis Burciaga, 4-David Stokes, 8-Logan Pause ©; 5-Kyle Beckerman, 12-Brian Carroll, 9-Brad Davis, 17-Eddie Gaven; 11-Alecko Eskandarian, 19-David Testo (20-Ed Johnson, 69).
Subs Not Used: 1-D.J. Countess.
Head Coach: Glenn “Mooch” Myernick.
Statistical Summary: USA HON
Shots 14 12
Saves 6 7
Corner Kicks 7 4
Fouls 17 15
Offside 7 2
HON – Victor Bernardez (caution) 9th minute.
HON – Hendry Thomas (caution) 56.
USA – Davis Stokes (caution) 63.
USA – Brad Davis (caution) 72.
HON – Hendry Thomas (ejection) 90.
Referee: Rodolfo Sibrian (SLV)
Assistant Referee #1: Hector Vergara (CAN)
Assistant Referee #2: Modesto Hierrezuelo (CUB)
Fourth Official: Gilberto Alcala (MEX)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Logan Pause
- QUOTE SHEET -
On the qualifying tournament as a whole:
"I'm proud to have been the coach of this group. Our goal was to go to the Olympics, but we fell short of that. Mexico was a better team than we were. That was the telling game in the tournament. My message to my players was that's the measuring stick, that's the standard, in our zone of the world, in our age group. They should take a message from that, to use that as the bar and the standard."
On the inexperience of his team, and what they can learn from the tournament:
"We have a number of players on our team who are not regulars on their MLS club, and their goal is to become regulars on their clubs, and that is the path they need to follow if they hope to pull on the national team jersey at the full national team level."
U.S. U-23 MNT midfielder Kyle Beckerman
On tonight's result:
"It was disappointing, but I was really happy that the guys--that everybody--put out their best effort the way they did. It was amazing how everybody got their stuff together after such a tragic loss on Monday (the passing of Nicole Megaloudis, the step-daugther of assistant coach Thomas Rongen) and a tough result on Tuesday (the 4-0 loss to Mexico). To get back up and even come out and play a game was a lot to ask, and everybody came with a good attitude. I was just happy that everyone was on the field with me battling tonight. It was disappointing, but when it comes down to penalty kicks, it's basically a coin toss."
On the end of his Youth National Team career, which included a U-17 world championship tournament:
"The opportunity that the Youth National Teams gave me was unbelievable. All of the places I never would have seen otherwise, I got to go there and live there for a couple of weeks. It's just been amazing. It's helped my soccer grow so much. I have to give all the credit to (U.S. Soccer) for getting me to where I am now, especially with Colorado. It's just been a lot of fun. Hopefully, I can keep going and I'd love to try and make a push for the World Cup team. So far it's been awesome...first class."
U.S. U-23 MNT defender/midfielder Logan Pause
On the disappointment of the last two results:
"Obviously, it was a do-or-die situation against Mexico, and it's just crushing to go out knowing that it's one game and you're done. We didn't want it that night, and Mexico showed that they did. Then turning around and playing Honduras tonight, it would've meant everything in the world to get a win in our last go-round together, but it's been a good run."