U.S. Falls 2-1 on Stoppage Time Penalty Kick in Hostile Road Match versus Costa Rica in World Cup Qualifying

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Sunday, July 23, 2000) - For the second straight World Cup Qualifying match, a goal within the last five minutes of regulation did in the U.S. Men's National Team, as a controversial call in stoppage time led to a penalty kick that Costa Rica's Hernan Medford converted for the 2-1 decision to the delight of the intimidating crowd at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa today.

With the loss, the U.S. heads back stateside for three consecutive home World Cup Qualifying matches, starting with an all-important match versus Barbados on Aug. 16 at Foxboro Stadium at 8 p.m. (ET). Tickets for this first home qualifier, which will be broadcast via tape delay at 11:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2, can be purchased online at the U.S. Soccer website or by calling the New England Revolution Ticket Office at 877-GET-REVS.

"This one is tough to swallow," said U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, who was named "Man of the Match". "I thought we did a great job to battle back, and it hurts to see it be all for nothing."

Although outplayed by a confident U.S. effort in the first half, Costa Rica's only shot on goal in the period would be enough for a 1-0 halftime lead. On a quick counter-attack, Costa Rican captain Medford served a swooping cross to the far post to an unmarked Rolando Conseca, who headed it back across the goal just out of reach of sprawling U.S. keeper Kasey Keller.

Once again, after controlling play in the first half and compiling a sizeable advantage in shots (8-1), the U.S. was under siege in the second half. Costa Rica attacked relentlessly, highlighted by a five-minute span around the 60th minute in which the "Ticos" had an alarming number of scoring opportunities and chances in front of the U.S. goalmouth, including a shot that went wide right of an open net and a goal that was called back with two players ruled offside.

The flurry of dangerous Costa Rican scoring opportunities and the roar of the partisan crowd subsided in the 65th minute with a swift U.S. counter-attack. Defender Tony Sanneh started things in the midfield, charging up field and sending a through ball into open space in the penalty area. U.S. forward Ante Razov, the lone goal scorer and "Man of the Match" in last Sunday's 1-1 tie with Guatemala, timed his run perfectly and cracked a right-footed shot that Costa Rica goalkeeper Alvaro Mesen, who faced a whopping 21 shots and made seven solid saves, took off his chest. Speedy U.S. midfielder Earnie Stewart was there for the rebound and easily tapped it into an empty net.

Razov, who had scored in the three consecutive games (one shy of a U.S. record) prior to today's match, was dangerous up front, registering seven shots before exiting in the 87th minute.

As each team started making its three substitutions within the last 15 minutes of the game, the tide turned again. Despite the USA's defensive subs and accompanying posture, the invigorated Costa Rican side controlled play and pushed hard for the game-winner, forcing Keller to thwart several dangerous chances in the box.

After a dangerous challenge in the box from U.S. sub Frankie Hejduk went unnoticed, referee Peter Prendergast then made the call for a penalty kick when defender Gregg Berhalter headed a cross inadvertently off his left arm. Signaling an illegal hand ball in the area, the fatal penalty kick was set up and knocked home by Medford in the third minute of stoppage time to seal the game.

The loss ended the U.S. team's eight-game World Cup qualifying stretch without a loss, which dates back to 1997, just two games short of the team's all-time mark.

In the other Group E World Cup qualifying action, Guatemala posted a 2-0 home win over Barbados yesterday and now leads the group with four points.

Following the important August 16 date at Foxboro Stadium against Barbados, the U.S. will face Guatemala on Sept. 3 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and Costa Rica on Oct. 11 at Columbus Crew Stadium before flying to Barbados for the last road match on Nov. 16.


Participants:U.S. Men's National Team vs. Costa Rica National Team
Competition:2002 World Cup CONCACAF Qualifying - Semifinal Round, Group E
Venue:Estadio Ricardo Saprissa (San Jose, Costa Rica)
Date:July 23, 2000 - Kickoff 11 a.m. local (MT)
Weather:68 degrees - Pleasant

Scoring Summary:1st2ndFinal
United States
Costa Rica

CRC - Rolando Fonseca, (Hernan Medford), 10,
USA - Earnie Stewart, (Ante Razov), 65,
CRC - Hernan Medford (PK), 93+.

USA - 18-Kasey Keller; 6-David Regis, 17-Tony Sanneh, 3-Gregg Berhalter, 22-Greg Vanney; 8-Earnie Stewart, 10-Claudio Reyna (capt.), 14-Chris Armas, 7-Eddie Lewis (15-Chad Deering, 86), 13-Cobi Jones (2-Frankie Hejduk, 77); 11-Ante Razov (21-Jason Kreis, 87).

CRC - 18-Alvaro Mesen; 15-Harold Wallace, 21-Reynaldo Park, 4-Alexander Madrigal, 19-Rordrigo Cordero, 13-Sandro Alfaro (6-Austin Berry, 76); 10-Walter Senteno, 7-Rolando Fonseca (14-Rayner Robinson, 76), 17-Hernan Medford; 11-Jafet Soto (8-Jonathan Balanos, 86), 9-Paulo Wanchope.

Statistical Summary:USACRC
Shots . . . . . . . . . .
Saves . . . . . . . . . .
Corner Kicks . . . . .
Fouls . . . . . . . . . .
Offside . . . . . . . . .

Misconduct Summary:
Greg Vanney (caution)12,
Sandro Alfaro (caution)59,
Hernan Medford (caution)69,
Jason Kreis (caution)88,
Earnie Stewart (caution)94+.

Chevrolet Man of the Match: Claudio Reyna.

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MNT Jul 23, 2000