SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (June 4, 2005) - The U.S. Men’s National Team recorded a dominating 3-0 victory against Costa Rica in front of a raucous Utah crowd of 40,586 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The victory was sparked by two goals from forward Landon Donovan and six sparkling second-half saves by goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
Donovan’s two strikes were his first goals of the year and extended his amazing streak of having scored at least a goal or an assist in 11 of the 12 FIFA World Cup 2006 qualifying games played by the United States on their current road to Germany. For Keller, the shutout was 38th in his 80-game U.S. MNT career and his 16th in 28 World Cup qualifying appearances.
The USA victory, coupled with qualifying victories by Mexico (2-0 in Guatemala) and Trinidad & Tobago (2-0 against Panama at home) puts the U.S. in a solid second-place position in the hexagonal with nine points after four games. The U.S. is one point behind Mexico, but five points clear of Guatemala, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, who are all even with four points. Panama, the USA’s opponent on Wednesday is bringing up the rear with two points.
“It was fantastic. I've never been in a more comfortable setting as the manager of the U.S. team,” said Bruce Arena about the state of Utah’s support of the U.S. team. “The whole week, Provo was brilliant, the people were great, everything was great there. Then, even today, I went to get a haircut and walking down the street, people were coming out of stores and saying, ‘Hello,’ wishing us good luck. I think the crowd was fantastic and I'm happy that our guys were able to respond. When things were tough, the crowd helped us. It was a perfect setting to play an important game in. I don't speak for U.S. Soccer, I speak for myself, but I'd love to come back here some day.”
The U.S. rewarded the enthusiastic crowd early with a sixth minute strike into the upper left corner of the goal by Donovan. On the goal, Steve Ralston was sprung down the right wing by Donovan, hitting a cross into the penalty area that deflected off Costa Rican Gilberto Martinez and settled perfectly for the USA’s reigning Player of the Year to hammer first-time from 21 yards off the underside of the crossbar.
Donovan’s tapped home his second goal in the 63rd minute on a typically brave header by forward Brian McBride that was redirected on goal and saved initially by Costa Rican goalkeeper Alvaro Mesen. Despite his sprawling save, though, Mesen couldn’t keep the ball out of the path of Donovan for the two-yard sitter.
The two goals from Donovan were sandwiched around two brilliant saves by Kasey Keller on Jafet Soto in the game’s 47th and 60th minutes. The 47th minute save was Keller’s first stop of the match and the first of six for the goalkeeper in the second half. On the play, Keller did extremely well to dive to his right and parry Soto’s blast from 10 yards. On the second save, Keller was moving to his right to stand up Soto six yards from goal and somehow reached backward with his left hand and slapped the ball with enough power to keep it out of the net.
"What can I say?,” said Arena on Keller’s heroics. “Kasey's reactions on the line are fantastic. He's still every bit as quick as he was five years ago. It's nice to see a guy like that who has dedicated himself as an athlete. His fitness is better now than it's probably ever been and I'm just happy that he has the opportunity to be our number one ‘keeper. I know his aspirations are to play in a World Cup so, hopefully, we can make that happen."
That second brilliant save from Keller was followed just three minutes later by Donovan’s second goal. The U.S. closed out the scoring in the 87th minute when Brian McBride added to his all-time U.S. goal tally with a solid strike from 10 yards on a redirected shot from Clint Dempsey. It was Donovan that sparked the goal with a dribble into the area that ended with a ball being laid off for Dempsey’s attempt.
McBride now has 27 international goals, seven behind the USA’s all-time leader Eric Wynalda. For Donovan, the two-goal game was the fourth of his career, and moved him into a tie for fourth place all-time on the U.S. goal-scoring list with Bruce Murray with 21 international goals.
The game ended with Costa Rica’s Douglas Sequeira earning a straight red card in the 92nd minute after a reckless tackle that resulted in a knee to the gut of standout U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo.
The U.S. travels to face Panama on Wednesday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast via tape-delay on ESPN2 at 1 a.m. ET and on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Costa Rica
Date: June 4, 2005
Competition: FIFA World Cup qualifier – CONCACAF
Venue: Rice-Eccles Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. MT
Weather: 72 degrees, warm and clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
Costa Rica 0 0 0
USA – Landon Donovan (unassisted) 6th minute
USA – Landon Donovan (Brian McBride) 63.
USA – Brian McBride (Clint Dempsey) 87.
USA: 18-Kasey Keller ; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 23-Eddie Pope, 4-Carlos Bocanegra; 14-Steve Ralston, 25-Kerry Zavagnin, 15-Bobby Convey (2-Frankie Hejduk, 74), 10-Landon Donovan; 16-Josh Wolff (13-Pat Noonan, 64), 20-Brian McBride (Capt.), 7-DaMarcus Beasley (8-Clint Dempsey, 86)
Subs not used: 1-Marcus Hahnemann, 3-Gregg Berhalter, 8-Clint Dempsey, 11-Conor Casey, 13-Pat Noonan, 19-Clyde Simms
Head Coach: Bruce Arena.
CRC: 1-Alvaro Mesen; 2-Jervis Drummond, 19-Mauricio Wright, 13-Victor Cordero, 5-Gilberto Martinez, 12-Leonardo Gonzalez (17-Steven Bryce, 39); 20-Douglas Sequeira, 16-Carlos Hernandez, 7-Oscar Rojas (9-Paulo Wanchope, 67), 10-Jafet Soto; 21-Alonso Solis (11-Ronald Gomez, 62)
Subs not used:18-Jose Porras, 3-Luis Marin, 8-Mauricio Solis, 15-Harold Wallace
Head Coach: Alexandre Guimaraes
Stats Summary: USA CRC
Shots 18 10
Saves 6 9
Corner Kicks 8 5
Fouls 11 17
Offside 1 8
CRC – Gilberto Martinez (caution) 31st minute.
CRC – Steven Bryce (caution) 78.
CRC – Douglas Sequeira (ejection) 92+.
Referee: Carlos Batres (GUA)
1st Asst.: Hector Vergara (CAN)
2nd Asst.: Jose Diaz Ramirez (MEX)
Fourth Official: Roberto Salazar (PAN)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Kasey Keller