USA Wins Group E, Gains Spot in Final Qualifying Round for World Cup 2002 with 4-0 Win Over Barbados
WATERFORD, St. Michael, Barbados (Wednesday, November 15, 2000) - It came down to the last of six semi-final qualifying round matches, but the United States Men's National Team left no doubt that it belonged in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, breaking an intense match wide open in the second half by pouring in four goals to post a huge 4-0 road shutout of Barbados at the National Stadium in Waterford today.
U.S. forward Clint Mathis was named the Chevrolet "Man of the Match," with his first international goal serving as the game winner in the 63rd minute. Mathis later provided a perfect assist on Cobi Jones' game-clinching goal in the 77th minute to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead.
Goalkeeper Tony Meola was forced to make just one save in helping the U.S. establish a new team record for shutouts in a calendar year with nine. The clean sheet also marked the fifth consecutive match in which the United States did not allow a goal, another record for the Americans. As the all-time shutout leader in U.S. Men's National Team history, Meola's three shutouts in 2000 have helped him increase his career total to 32.
Coming into the match needing a win to guarantee advancement to the six-team final qualifying round, the Americans had trouble finding their rhythm in an uneventful opening 20 minutes full of rough tackles and just one shot, but action picked up as both teams became adjusted to the choppy and water-logged pitch.
The USA's first golden opportunity to gain a vital 1-0 first half lead didn't materialize until the 36th minute, when U.S. forward Joe-Max Moore fed Mathis with a defender on his back and just the 'keeper to beat, but the NJ/NY MetroStars forward's hurried shot hit the right post and spun out across the end line.
The Americans had another solid chance in the 39th minute, as Mathis charged through two defenders to free himself, pushing the ball forward and stumbling to reach it before sending a hard shot that was saved off the chest of goalkeeper Horace Stoute. Moore was there for a reaction header off the rebound, but it sailed wide left.
The three-man U.S. defensive unit of Carlos Llamosa, Gregg Berhalter and Jeff Agoos, supplemented by the return of defensive midfield specialist Chris Armas, held the Barbados attack in check, holding the home team without a shot on goal in the first half.
As the teams entered the locker rooms with no score at the halfway point, steady rain began to fall. But when the second half began, as the field became sloppier, the play of both teams became much sharper. Both teams came out and pushed for a crucial go-ahead goal that would likely stand up in the harsh match conditions.
The U.S. escaped a one-goal deficit in the 50th minute when a 10-yard shot from striker Llewellyn Riley was saved off the hands of Meola but then redirected back toward goal off the knee of Llamosa. The bang-bang play in close space almost produced an own goal but it hit the crossbar, keeping the U.S. from danger.
Team USA thought it gained a 1-0 edge minutes later when Moore took on two defenders above the box, turned and unloaded a powerful shot that Stoute did well to parry. U.S. midfielder Chris Klein, making his first appearance in a World Cup Qualifier, quickly pounced on the rebound and cut it back away from the end line. Klein then cranked a left-footed shot that made it through traffic and under the legs of Stoute, but the goal was called back as Moore was standing at the far post in an offside position.
The U.S. finally broke through on a brilliant individual effort by Moore, who performed a tight-rope act by holding off a beaten defender and deftly dribbling the ball along the end line. As Moore drew Stoute out at the near post, Moore calmly pushed the ball back to Mathis, who easily finished into an open net in the 63rd minute.
The U.S. earned a more comfortable advantage in the 73rd minute when midfielder Earnie Stewart received a ball from Llamosa just outside the box, took three touches toward goal in open space and lined up a blistering, knuckling ball that flew past an airborne Stoute and crashed inside the left netting of the goal.
Just four minutes later, the U.S. broke the game open and virtually assured themselves of a win with a third goal. U.S. midfielder and second-half substitute Cobi Jones timed his run well and broke in behind a perfect looping ball from Mathis over two Barbados defenders. Jones calmly chested it down and struck it past a helpless Stoute for the 3-0 lead.
Fellow second-half sub Ante Razov put the finishing touches on the match with a left-footed strike in the third minute of extra time off a pass from Jones.
With today's victory in the team's final game of 2000, the U.S. Men's National Team closed out the year with an impressive 9-2-6 record, marking the first time since 1983-84 that the U.S. Men have posted back-to-back winning seasons.
The win also helped the USA win Group E with a 3-1-2 record and a total of 11 points. Because of the nature of today's other key result, Guatemala's 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in hostile Mazatenango, the two teams are now even on all tiebreakers and will have to meet in a playoff match at a site and date to be determined by CONCACAF. Even without the outcome, a draw will be held in Guatemala on Sunday (Nov. 19) to determine the order (1-6) and country in which the following nations will meet in the next and final stage of qualifying: Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, the United States and either Costa Rica or Guatemala.
2000 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. Barbados National Team|
|Competition:||2002 World Cup CONCACAF Qualifying - Semifinal Round, Group E|
|Venue:||National Stadium (Waterford, St. Michael, Barbados)|
|Date:||November 15, 2000 - Kickoff 2 p.m. (ET)|
|Weather:||84 degrees - Rainy and Humid|
USA - Clint Mathis, (Joe-Max Moore), 63,
USA - Earnie Stewart, (Carlos Llamosa), 73,
USA - Cobi Jones, (Mathis), 77,
USA - Ante Razov, (Jones), 93+.
USA - 1-Tony Meola (Capt.); 16-Carlos Llamosa, 12-Jeff Agoos, 3-Gregg Berhalter; 17-Chris Klein, 14-Chris Armas, 7-Eddie Lewis (13-Cobi Jones, 61), 10-Tab Ramos, 8-Earnie Stewart; 6-Clint Mathis (21-Richie Williams, 78), 9-Joe-Max Moore (11-Ante Razov, 81).
BRB - 13-Horace Stoute; 19-Neil Bovell (12-Michael Forde, 46), 2-Agustus Hurdle (5-Romell Burgess, 75), 17-John Parris, 20-Matthew Joseph; 6-Wayne Sobers, 10-Gregory Goodridge (Capt.), 7-Michael Gikes, 14-Paul Lovell; 9-Ryan Lucas (21-Kenroy Skinner, 79), 15-Llewellyn Riley.
|Wayne Sobers (caution)||48,|
|Earnie Stewart (caution)||52,|
|Carlos Llamosa (caution)||88.|