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U.S. Men's National Team Gets Three Points Closer to South Africa with 2-1 Defeat of El Salvador


·        U.S. Comes From Behind With Goals From Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore in Final Five Minutes of First Half

·        Landon Donovan Sets U.S. Record With 32nd Career World Cup Qualifying Appearance

·        Up Next is Trinidad & Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 9 in Port-of-Spain live on ESPN Classic and Galavision at 7 p.m. ET

SANDY, Utah (Sept. 5, 2009) — The U.S. Men’s National Team got goals from Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore in the closing minutes of the first half to come from behind and defeat El Salvador 2-1 this evening at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. With the victory, the U.S. moved into second place in the six-team final round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying with just three matches remaining.

The U.S. fell behind in the 32nd minute when Christian Castillo headed home after a poor U.S. clearance, but after a handful of near-misses a Landon Donovan free kick found Dempsey for the equalizer in the 41st minute. Five minutes later, with seconds left before the halftime whistle, Altidore put the U.S. in the lead for good when he nodded home another service from Donovan, this time in the run of play.  Donovan earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors on a night when he set the record for most World Cup qualifying appearances for a U.S. player, playing in his 32nd qualifier. 

"I think what stood out after the goal was strong response from everybody on the field,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “That says a lot about what these guys are all about. They understand how difficult these games are and how competitive they are. The second half we certainly had some opportunities to get the third goal, which is always important. When you don't, you sometimes need a big save and Timmy Howard made a big save at the end." 

The U.S. is tied with Honduras on 13 points, but Honduras holds the top spot with a better goal differential which they increased this evening with a 4-1 victory against Trinidad & Tobago. Mexico jumped to third place after a surprising 3-0 victory against Costa Rica at Estadio Saprissa. Costa Rica slipped to fourth place with the defeat.  

The final round of qualifying resumes on Sept. 9, when the U.S. visits Trinidad & Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. ESPN Classic and Galavision will televise the game live at 7 p.m. ET with a pre-game show starting coverage at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN Classic. Fans can follow online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and via twitter at www.twitter.com/ussoccer.

The win continued the United States’ dominance in home World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador, as they now hold a 12-0-2 record dating back to 1977.

With referee Jose Pineda stopping play several times for fouls, neither team was able to establish much of a rhythm early on in the match.  

In the 28th minute, Dempsey and Charlie Davies almost hooked up for the first U.S. goal of the day. Collecting a poor clearance by El Salvador, Benny Feilhaber took the ball from the right side of the pitch, chipping it over his marker and down on his left foot. Moving to the left, he passed it off to Davies, who was patiently waiting along the left sideline. The forward paused, pushed the ball past his defender and turned on the jets to beat his marker to the endline. Davies looked up and sent the ball to a waiting Dempsey right at the penalty spot, but the Fulham striker’s left-footed shot went wide to the left. 

Five minutes later, that missed opportunity stood glaring as El Salvador got on the scoreboard first. Jonathan Bornstein’s mishit clearance fell inside the U.S. box to the feet of Zelaya. With time to collect the ball inside the top corner, the forward sent a floating ball towards Christian Castillo at the penalty spot. Castillo out-jumped defender Jonathan Spector and headed the ball past the outstretched fingers of the wrong-footed Howard.  

In the 39th minute the U.S. threatened again, this time drawing even closer to that elusive tying goal. The U.S. worked a quick free kick to Spector on the right side. Spector sent in the cross and found Dempsey diving for the header, but the midfielder’s attempt hit the ground and agonizingly bounced over the frame.

Seconds later Davies again was sent in with a through ball, this time from Altidore. Davies beat the ‘keeper to the ball and got off a shot from a tough angle, but defender Mardoqueo Gonzalez was able to get back and clear the shot off the line to keep El Salvador in the lead.  

Despite the near misses, the U.S. seemed to grow stronger, and after knocking on the door for the last 10 minutes they finally broke through with the tying goal from Dempsey. Castillo was called for a handball on the right side of the field midway in the El Salvador half, providing the U.S. with a free kick. Donovan whipped the ball into the box where Dempsey beat El Salvador’s offside trap and was all alone in front of the goal to hit a diving header perfectly into the bottom left hand corner from just outside the six yard box.  Dempsey now has five goals in the 2010 qualifying campaign. 

Refusing to let up, the Americans continued attacking in an attempt to take control of the game going into halftime. After earning two corners that were cleared out by the Salvadoran defense, Donovan again sent in a cross from the left side. The deflection fell to Michael Bradley on the left side, and the midfielder used his body to shield the ball as he dribbled up and down the left side of the goal box, looking for an option. He eventually pulled a second defender towards him, leaving Donovan wide open to receive his simple pass and then send in yet another cross. This one was perfectly placed right on the penalty spot, where Altidore leapt up and powered a header into the left side netting for a picture-perfect goal in the second minute of stoppage time.  Altidore’s sixth goal in the 2010 qualifying cycle – and his second game-winner – moved him into the top spot in the USA’s qualifying scoring list through 15 matches in the campaign.

Looking at a one goal deficit at the start of the second half, El Salvador head coach Carlos de los Cobos was forced to make his first substitution of the game early, bringing on Osael Romero for Arturo Alvarez in the 50th minute after Alvarez appeared to aggravate a sore hamstring. 

The U.S. appeared to gain the insurance goal in the 58th minute off the foot of Jozy Altidore, but the breakaway goal was called off. Starting the attack in their own end, Donovan sent a long pass along the ground to Dempsey at the halfway line. Pushing it around his defender, it appeared to go too far ahead before Dempsey raced to lunge and push the ball through for Altidore from just inside the half before sliding into a defender. The pass fell perfectly to Altidore, who walked in alone and slotted a shot right through the Montes’ legs, and while the offside flag stayed down, Pineda whistled Dempsey for a foul and the goal was nullified.

Four minutes later, the U.S. displayed their counter-attacking prowess yet again. After stripping Zelaya at the top of the box, Bocanegra got the ball to Donovan who played a quick give and go with Bradley. Taking the return pass 30 yards upfield, Donovan then played a give and go with Dempsey, but Dempsey’s return pass was a step in front of his partner. Coming back to take the touch was Altidore, but he was whistled offside.  

In the 72nd minute, Charlie Davies went down with a contusion to his left calf, causing Bradley to make his first substitution of the day. Bringing on midfielder Stuart Holden, Dempsey moved up top to partner with Altidore.

The final two U.S. substitutions came in the final ten minutes of the match, with Bradley calling upon Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman in the 80th minute for Feilhaber and Jose Francisco Torres in the 85th for Altidore.

Desperate to steal a point, El Salvador started throwing numbers forward for the final minutes of the match. They almost succeeded in the 87th minute, after Zelaya sent in a cross from the left side of the pitch. The ball fell to the chest of Castillo, who brought the ball down and tapped it to an open William Reyes. The second-half substitute took the pass with his back to the goal from the center of the box, and while turning put the point-blank shot on frame, where Howard made the big save needed to preserve the win, diving down to his right to palm the shot.

As the game drew to a close in the 89th minute, Holden almost created the final goal, using fresh legs to steal the ball away from Denis Umanzor. After stripping the left back, Holden took the ball to the end line and sent in a cross that was too high for Donovan, leaving the ball for a streaking Torres who slammed a header towards the goal, but Montes made his best save of the day to keep El Salvador only down a goal.

Match: United States vs. El Salvador
Date: Sept. 5, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Final Round
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Sandy, Utah
Kickoff: 6 p.m. MT
Attendance: 19,066
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees 

Scoring Summary:             1              2              F
USA                                     2              0              2
SLV                                      1              0              1

SLV – Christian Castillo (Rodolfo Zelaya)      32nd minute
USA – Clint Dempsey (Landon Donovan)      41
USA – Jozy Altidore (Landon Donovan)        45+2               

Lineups:
USA:  1-Tim Howard; 2-Jonathan Spector, 15-Chad Marshall, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey , 5-Benny Feilhaber (16-Kyle Beckerman, 80), 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 9-Charlie Davies (7-Stuart Holden, 73), 17-Jozy Altidore (14-Jose Francisco Torres, 85)
Subs not used: 6-Steve Cherundolo, 11-Brian Ching, 13-Robbie Rogers, 18-Brad Guzan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley 

SLV: 1-Miguel Montes; 3-Marvin González, 4-Mardoqueo Gonzalez, 12-Manuel Salazar, 13-Deris Umanzor; 5-Ramón Flores (14-William Reyes, 63), 6-Arturo Álvarez (8-Osael Romero, 50), 7-Ramón Sánchez (capt.), 10-Eliseo Quintanilla (9-Rudis Corrales, 75), 17-Christian Castillo; 11-Rodolfo Zelaya
Subs not used: 2-Alexander Escobar, 15-Alfredo Pacheco, 16-Denis Alas, 18-Dagoberto Portillo
Head Coach: Carlos de los Cobos 

Stats Summary: USA / SLV
Shots: 13 / 11
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 4 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 15 / 14
Offsides: 2 / 3 

Misconduct Summary:
SLV – Luis Hernández (caution)                       9th minute
SLV – Rodolfo Zelaya (caution)                        80

Officials:
Referee: Jose Pineda (HON)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Pastrana (HON)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Giron (HON)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Zelaya (HON) 

ussoccer.com  Man of the Match:
Landon Donovan

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