- Jones Delivers Equalizer in 92nd Minute as USA Unbeaten Streak Hits a Record 10 Games
 - U.S. MNT Next Face Another Difficult Road Match in El Salvador on Oct. 9
 - USA Returns Home Against Panama at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13

PANAMA CITY, Panama (September 8, 2004) – The U.S. Men’s National Team benefited from a case of déjà vu on the road Wednesday night, overcoming a shaky second half to tie the game in the final minutes and earn an important point on the road, tying Panama 1-1 at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in its third match of the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The important point for the U.S. came via second-half substitute Cobi Jones, a veteran of three World Cups for the United States, who tied the game in the 92nd minute by poking home a miskicked shot from Landon Donovan from eight yards out. Donovan had jumped onto a deflected ball in the penalty area that was lifted into the box from the halfway line by midfielder Eddie Lewis in the game’s final desperate moments. With Brian McBride trying to win a header, the ball deflected off of his defender and stuck in the swampy turf where Donovan couldn’t get a clean touch before slicing it to Jones.
“It seems to be a mainstay in our World Cup qualifiers,” said Jones, playing in his record 163rd game for the U.S. and scoring his 15th career goal. “We have a never say die attitude. We have a team that is never going to quit. We’ve proven that we can play the full 90 minutes.”
Panama owned most of the second half on the wet, boggy field, outshooting the United States by a whopping 13-5 margin and finally breaking through in the 69th minute on a rebound off a pair of shots from feisty second-half sub Ricardo Phillips. His first strike was saved by U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, but the rebound squirted back into the path of Phillips and his follow-up shot slipped by Eddie Pope and then caromed off the right post before falling in the six-yard box right in the path of Roberto Brown, who tapped it home easily.
“First of all, I give the U.S. credit for passing a character test,” said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. “Give the Panama team credit for what I thought was a superb second half. Their forwards really won the battle and made a difference in the second half. I still think the big part of the game was our inability to take advantage of our control of the game in the first half, where we created chances and had a lot of the play.”
The point for the U.S. keeps the team in first place in Group 1 with five points, one ahead of both Panama and Jamaica. Jamaica moved back into the mix with a strong 3-0 victory in El Salvador on Wednesday night, following a single draw in their opening two matches at home.
The draw extended the USA’s unbeaten streak to a team record 10 games, besting two nine-game streaks for the United States previously set in 1991 and 1998. The U.S. is 6-0-4 during the streak and improved the team’s overall record to 6-1-5 in 2004. Curiously, the draw also extended the USA’s dubious streak of never having earned a full three points in a World Cup qualifying game played outside of Honduras in Central America. The U.S. has won three times in four World Cup qualifiers in Honduras in their history, but is 0-for-11 outside of that country when trying to earn a maximum three points in qualifiers in Central America (0-5-6).
The U.S. was the superior team in the first half, outshooting the upstart Panamanians four to three and creating a number of dangerous chances, including an early 10th minute free kick from Conor Casey that was driven from the right side of the penalty area into traffic, where it was redirected by Brian Ching and skidded across the goal mouth in front of an unmarked Carlos Bocanegra and wide left of the post for a goal kick.
Panama gave the U.S. a scare in the 16th minute when tiny forward Julio Medina unleashed a rocket from 25 yards out that ripped the side netting but on the wrong side of the left post.
The U.S. had a golden chance to grab a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute, when Casey took down a long ball on the right flank and backheeled a pass into the path of Ching. Ching played a quick square ball to an onrushing Mathis, who flew by the remaining defender but goalkeeper Donaldo Gonzalez came off his line and slid to save the low shot with his right leg.
Panama’s second good look on goal came in the 42nd minute when midfielder Engin Mitre bent a shot that almost struck Bocanegra in the box but zipped wide left.
The dominant second half for Panama got underway early, with Medina shooting wide right from just outside the U.S. penalty area in the 48th minute. Panama had another opportunity in the 60th minute on a corner kick from the right side that found Carlos Rivera unmarked in the box, but his header went high over the crossbar.
The first shot of the half for the U.S. didn’t come until the 63rd minute, when defender Greg Vanney blasted a hard shot from the corner of the penalty area but sent it high.
Panama presented more danger in the 66th minute, when eventual goalscorer Phillips sidestepped both Vanney and Claudio Reyna at the top of the box and uncorked a shot that fortunately skipped wide right with Keller scampering to cover the near post. Two minutes later, and just moments before he set up the Panama goal, Phillips ripped a shot from the right flank that went over the outstretched hand of Keller and rang off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
The U.S. was fortunate to have a chance to equalize in the 73rd minute, with second-half sub Brian McBride feeding a square ball to Donovan, who cranked a shot that Gonzalez was forced to push over the crossbar. After a 90th minute attempt from Reyna floated just wide from 18 yards, it was up to Jones to provide the late heroics. Bouyed by his eventual equalizer, the U.S. earned a corner kick less than a minute later and looked to have one last chance to net a game winner, but Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez oddly blew the whistle before the corner could be taken.
“At the end of the day, it is certainly not a perfect performance, but we’re on the road and we take two points away from the home team and have every player eligible for game four,” added Arena, commenting on the USA’s ability to keep their entire roster away from multiple yellow cards through five overall games of qualifying. “Now we simply have to take advantage of having a couple of home games as we finish out this round.”
Overall, the U.S. made five starting line-up changes in the match from the side that beat El Salvador 2-0 on Sept. 4 in Foxboro, Mass., with Keller replacing Tim Howard in goal and Clint Mathis replacing Kerry Zavagnin in the midfield. On defense, the only returning starter was Carlos Bocanegra, who was joined by Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Pope and Greg Vanney.
Next up for the U.S. is a road game on Oct. 9 in El Salvador and then consecutive home games on Oct. 13 against Panama at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and Nov. 17 against Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio. The top two teams in the group will advance to the final round of qualifying that begins next year.

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match-up: USA vs. Panama
Date: September 8, 2004
Competition: 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier – Semifinal Round
Venue: Estadio Rommel Fernandez – Panama City, Panama
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Attendance: 14,500 (est.)
Weather: 75 degrees; light rain

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

PAN – Roberto Brown (Ricardo Phillips)        69th minute.
USA – Cobi Jones (Landon Donovan)            92+.

USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 23-Eddie Pope, 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 3-Greg Vanney; 10-Claudio Reyna, 17-DaMarcus Beasley, 21-Landon Donovan, 11-Clint Mathis (13-Cobi Jones, 57); 25-Brian Ching (7-Eddie Lewis, 77), 9-Conor Casey (20-Brian McBride, 62).
Subs not used: 1-Jonny Walker, 5-Kerry Zavagnin, 6-Steve Cherundolo, 12-Cory Gibbs.
Head Coach: Bruce Arena.

PAN: 1-Donaldo Gonzalez; 2-Carlos Rivera, 3-Luis Moreno, 4-Luis Henriquez, 5-Anthony Torres; 6-Engin Mitre, 7-Alberto Zapata (15-Ricardo Phillips, 38), 8-Manuel Torres (14-Juan Carlos Cubilla, 78), 9-Julio Dely Valdes (18-Jorge Dely Valdes, 72); 10-Julio Medina, 11-Roberto Brown.
Subs not used: 12-Jaime Penedo, 13-Gary Ramos, 16-Angel Lombardo.
Head Coach: Jose “Cheche” Hernandez

Stats Summary:      USA      PAN
Shots                             9           16
Saves                            3            2
Corner Kicks                8            3
Fouls                             16         13
Offside                           4           9

Misconduct Summary:
PAN – Anthony Torres (caution)            23rd minute.
USA – Frankie Hejduk (caution)            62.
PAN – Jorge Dely Valdes (caution)        77.

Referee:           Marco Rodriguez (MEX)
1st Asst.:         Leonel Leal Bermudez (CRC)
2nd Asst.:        Edgar Mora Bolanos (CRC)
Fourth Official:  Mauricio Morales Ovalle (MEX)

Chevrolet Man of the Match: Kasey Keller

2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule – CONCACAF Semifinal Round

Group 1 Standings
Team              P    W    L    D    GF:GA     GD     PTS
United States    3     1    0     2       4:2        +2        5
Jamaica            3     1    1     1       5:3        +2        4
Panama            3     1    1     1       4:4         E         4
El Salvador        3     1    1     0       2:6         -4        3

Group 1 Schedule
Date        Match                              Venue                                                                Results/Kickoff
Aug. 18    Jamaica vs. USA               National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica                        1-1
Aug. 18    El Salvador vs. Panama     Cuscatlan Stadium; San Salvador, El Salvador       2-1

Sept. 4    USA vs. El Salvador            Foxboro Stadium; Foxboro, Mass.                            2-0
Sept. 4    Jamaica vs. Panama           National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica                      1-2

Sept. 8    Panama vs. USA                Fernandez Stadium; Panama City, Panama              1-1
Sept. 8    El Salvador vs. Jamaica      Cuscatlan Stadium; San Salvador, El Salvador       0-3

Oct. 9      El Salvador vs. USA           Cuscatlan Stadium; San Salvador, El Salvador   
Oct. 9      Panama vs. Jamaica          Fernandez Stadium; Panama City, Panama   

Oct. 13    USA vs. Panama                RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.   
Oct. 13    Jamaica vs. El Salvador      National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica   

Nov. 17    USA vs. Jamaica                Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio   
Nov. 17    Panama vs. El Salvador       Fernandez Stadium; Panama City, Panama