Pope's 93rd Minute Strike Caps U.S. Dominance of Mexico for 1-0 Win
· U.S. Shutout Streak Against Mexico Extended to 434 Minutes Overall and 573 Minutes in U.S.
· USA Now 6-1-1 in Last Eight Games Against Mexico
· June 2 Match Against Honduras in Foxboro Up Next for U.S. in Advance of Qualifying
DALLAS, Texas (Wednesday, April 28, 2004) — The U.S. Men's National Team continued their domination of Mexico with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday evening at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on a 93rd minute strike from captain Eddie Pope. The triumph was well-earned for the United States who completely dominated the match, out-shooting their arch-rival 14-3, which included a 7-0 advantage in shots on goal.
The shutout for goalkeeper Jonny Walker, earning his first cap against Mexico, was the fourth in a row for the U.S. over Mexico and extended the team's overall shutout against the Tricolores to 434 minutes, a span of five games dating all the way back to 2001. Even more impressively, Mexico has not scored a goal against the U.S. in the U.S. in 573 minutes, a span of more than five years and six games.
The goal for the U.S. came in the 93rd minute on a free kick from Bobby Convey that was sent into the area and headed on frame by Taylor Twellman. Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez did well to make that stop, his impressive sixth save of the night, but couldn't keep the rebound from falling to Pope to score his sixth international goal.
Convey's free kick on the goal was set-up after Omar Briceno was whistled for a yellow card on Chevrolet Man of the Match Landon Donovan in the right corner. Donovan was at his finest in the match, playing out of the midfield and darting forward on numerous occasions to hit five total shots while spraying numerous passes and touches into dangerous positions for his teammates.
"The U.S. deserved to win. Obviously we were fortunate to get a late goal, but I think we created the best chances in the game and deserved to win," said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. "The speed of Donovan and (DaMarcus) Beasley in the midfield made a difference. At the end of the day, all it is is a little bit of bragging rights. We know that the most important thing for both teams is to qualify for the World Cup. The game gives me an opportunity to see our players in a great environment, and a lot of our players have made the statement that they deserve to be part of the qualifying process.”
For Pope, his tally gave the U.S. their sixth win against Mexico in the new millennium, against just one loss and one tie in eight games. That impressive U.S. victory total includes the team's historic 2-0 triumph in the second round of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea.
In the first half, Donovan had two highlight reel moments in the space of five minutes, just missing on back-to-back attempts in the 33rd and 37th minutes. On the first attempt, a corner kick from Convey was cleared from the area and fell to Donovan outside the left penalty area, about 25 yards from goal. With a goal-scorer's instinct, the 22-year-old turned and hit a left-footed half volley across his body that screamed toward the upper right corner of the goal only to carom off the intersection of the crossbar and right post.
Just five minutes later Donovan dribbled 30 yards through the Mexican defense, leaving three defenders in his wake and hit a shot from 16 yards that Mexican goalkeeper Sanchez parried out of danger. In between those two chances, Josh Wolff continued the U.S. dominance with a headed shot off a corner that went just wide left of the goal in the 35th minute.
As they did in the first half, the U.S. came out firing in the second half, with another close chance going awry just three minutes after play resumed. Beasley jumpstarted this attempt by tracking down a cross in the area, spinning with the ball around his defender to gain some space just outside the six-yard box and then laying a pass back to the center of the penalty area for Kerry Zavagnin, whose shot was deflected out of danger.
In the 56th minute, Donovan hit another shot on target that was saved outside the right post for a corner, and in the 75th minute he found the head of Twellman on a corner kick that drifted just left of the far post. Six minutes later Donovan pulled another trick out of his bag, attempting to chip Sanchez in the 81st minute from 35 yards, but the ball got away from him and sailed harmlessly over the goal.
Mexico's only real chance in the game came in the 55th minute, when Walker collided with Omar Bravo in the area and was unable to keep the ball from falling free to an unmarked Jared Borgetti, who stabbed a shot wide of the empty net. As a sign of the U.S. dominance, Mexico did not earn their first corner in the game until eight minutes later, after the U.S. had already compiled 10.
“Mexico is a good skillful team and they moved forward very well," added Arena. "Their goalkeeper had a very good game. They struggled to create chances tonight, but they are always a difficult team to beat.”
In addition to Walker, who earned his first international shutout, forwards Conor Casey and Twellman also earned their first-ever appearances against Mexico. The assist for Twellman on Pope's winner marked his first point in seven career caps.
The U.S. begins CONCACAF World Cup qualifying June 13 against Grenada in Columbus, Ohio. After Mexico, the U.S. will hold one final tune up match for that game on June 2 against Honduras in Foxboro, Mass. Following the MNT World Cup qualifiers against Grenada, the U.S. will meet Poland in a domestic friendly on July 11. Should the U.S. advance through their preliminary qualifying round, the team's six-game, four-team semifinal round competition will begin on August 18 in either Jamaica or Haiti.
Match-up: USA vs. Mexico
Date: April 28, 2004
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: The Cotton Bowl – Dallas, Texas
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Weather: 65 degrees, light pre-game rain, wind
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
Mexico 0 0 0
USA – Eddie Pope (Taylor Twellman) 93rd+ minute.
USA — 1-Jonny Walker; 2- Frankie Hejduk, 23-Eddie Pope (capt.), 25-Pablo Mastroeni, 15-Bobby Convey;
14-Chris Armas, 5-Kerry Zavagnin, 10-Landon Donovan, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 16-Josh Wolff (20-Taylor Twellman, 66), 11-Conor Casey (9-Jovan Kirovski, 84)
Subs not used: 22-Kevin Hartman, 4- Chris Albright, 6-Ritchie Kotschau, 8-Richard Mulrooney, 13-Pat Noonan
MEX — 1-Oswaldo Sanchez, 5-Duilio Davino, 14-Francisco Rodriguez, 20-Ricardo Osorio; 2-Diego Martinez,
8-Pavel Pardo (19-Israel Lopez, 46), 23-Luis Perez, 7-Octavio Valdez (11-Emilio Mora, 67), 21-Hector Altamirano (6-Mario Perez, 61); 9-Jared Borguetti (3-Omar Briceno, 80), 10-Omar Bravo
Subs not used: 12-Moises Munoz, 15-Jesus Mendoza, 18-Salvador Carmona
Stats Summary: USA MEX
Shots 14 3
Saves 0 6
Corner Kicks 12 2
Fouls 25 12
Offside 1 5
MEX – Pavel Pardo (caution) 21st minute
USA – Conor Casey (caution) 25.
MEX – Luis Perez (caution) 30.
USA – Bobby Convey (caution) 36.
USA – Frankie Hejduk (caution) 71.
MEX – Omar Briceno (caution) 92+.
Referee: Mauricio NAVARRO (CAN)
1st Assistant: Hector VERGARA (CAN)
2nd Assistant: Mr. Amato DeLUCA (CAN)
Fourth Official: Kevin TERRY (USA)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Landon Donovan