WASHINGTON, D.C. (Saturday, September 1, 2001) - Despite two goals from captain Earnie Stewart, the United States Men's National Team suffered a 3-2 defeat to visiting Honduras before a charged crowd of 54,282 in the nation's capital, ending the USA's 19-match home unbeaten run in qualifying play. Milton Nunez netted twice on either side of a Carlos Pavon penalty kick to give the Hondurans 11 points and third place in the Hexagonal. In spite of the loss, the U.S. remains in the second position on 13 points.
The U.S. entered the match beset with injuries, forced to play their second straight qualifier without midfielder Claudio Reyna. The United States suffered its first-ever loss to Honduras in World Cup qualifying play, the record now standing at 2-1-1 all-time. Previously, the U.S. had not surrendered three goals at home in qualifying play since 1960.
The U.S. raced to a dream start, applying an intense pressure on the Honduran defense that quickly paid dividends. Just seven minutes into the contest, U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo launched a probing cross from the right flank. With Jovan Kirovski challenging, Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares failed to control the ball, leaving Earnie Stewart a clear look at goal. Stewart calmly sent a low drive to the right corner, netting his eighth career goal in World Cup qualifying play.
The Hondurans began to find space in the middle third of the field, and several quick counterattacks resulted with dangerous opportunities but nothing to show for it. Finally, in the 28th minute, Honduran forward Carlos Pavon played a quick combination at the right corner of the box and sent a slicing ball in behind the U.S. back line, finding Milton Nunez streaking through the center of the area. Nunez fired between the legs of a helpless Brad Friedel, leveling the score at 1-1.
The decisive moments in the match would originate at the penalty spot. In the 42nd minute, U.S. forward Jovan Kirovski was scuttled down deep in the Honduran penalty area by Milton Reyes, referee Mauricio Navarro immediately pointing to the spot. Earnie Stewart's low driven effort seemed destined for the right corner, but Valladares had guessed correctly and parried the shot wide, preserving even terms heading into the break.
Just on the other side of halftime, the Hondurans would get their chance at a spot kick. Honduran defender Milton Reyes raced towards the byline with Jeff Agoos in pursuit. Agoos appeared to have applied a shoulder challenge, but the referee adjudged an infringement and awarded Honduras a penalty kick. Pavon stepped up for the kick, powering a right-footed blast just past the outstretched U.S. netminder and giving the Catrachos a 2-1 lead after 53 minutes.
Honduras continued to launch attacks at the U.S. rearguard, grabbing a two-goal lead in the 77th minute. Julio Cesar de Leon gained possession of the ball deep in U.S. territory, outpacing Tony Sanneh to the endline. De Leon slotted a quick pass to Pavon, his continuing touch finding Nunez lurking 15 yards from goal. Unchallenged, Nunez fired home his second of the match.
The U.S. chased the game with a vengeance in the final 15 minutes, their efforts rewarded six minutes from time. Tony Sanneh floated a high cross from the left flank deep into the box, the Hondurans failing to clear effectively. Earnie Stewart stood poised just inside the top of the area and sent a spinning drive that caromed off the underside of the crossbar and fell inches behind the goal line, the referee's assistant immediately signaling for a goal. With the tally Stewart became the leading marksman in final round qualifying play with five goals.
Next up on the fixture list is a date with current group leaders Costa Rica, the encounter slated for Wednesday, September 5 at the Estadio Saprissa in San Jose. The match will kickoff at 10 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2. With the final road qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago scheduled for broadcast November 11, fans of the U.S. Men will have seen 7 of 8 road qualifiers broadcast on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, with the eighth going to fans live on pay-per-view.
2001 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. Honduras|
|Competition:||CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying (Final round)|
|Venue:||RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)|
|Date:||September 1, 2001 - Kickoff 10:00 a.m. ET|
|Weather:||73 degrees (Humid)|
USA - Stewart (Cherundolo), 7.
HON - Nunez (Pavon), 28.
HON - Pavon (penalty kick), 53.
HON - Nunez (Pavon), 77.
USA - Stewart (Sanneh), 84.
USA - 1-Brad Friedel; 2-Steve Cherundolo (11-Preki Radosavljevic, 67), 3-Eddie Pope, 12-Jeff Agoos, 6-David Regis (19-Chris Henderson, 78); 22-Tony Sanneh, 14-Chris Armas; 8-Earnie Stewart; 13-Cobi Jones; 7-Jovan Kirovski (9-Joe-Max Moore, 64), 20-Landon Donovan.
Subs not used: 18-Kasey Keller, 3-Gregg Berhalter, 16-Carlos Llamosa, 21-Richie Williams.
HON - 22-Noel Valladares; 5-Milton Reyes (21-Limberth Perez, 71), 24-Ninrod Medina (3-David Carcamo, 46), 4-Samuel Caballero; 8-Jose Luis Pineda, 19-Danilo Turcios (13-Robel Bernardez, 91+), 17-Ivan Guerrero, 10-Julio Cesar de Leon, 20-Amado Guevara; 9-Carlos Pavon, 11-Milton Nunez.
Subs not used: 1-Henry Enamorado, 14-Rony Morales, 15-Ricky Garcia, 18-Saul Martinez.
HON - Guerrero (caution), 21.
HON - Turcios (caution), 44.
HON - Caballero (caution), 60.
HON - Carcamo (caution), 81.
Referee: Mauricio Navarro (Canada)
Assistant Referee #1: Hector Vergara (Canada)
Assistant Referee #2: Simon Fearn (Canada)
Fourth Official: Mike Seifert (Canada)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Earnie Stewart.