After a last-second goal from Ante Razov in the first half put the U.S. ahead 1-0, the team looked poised to steal their first ever World Cup qualifying victory in Guatemala, but sustained pressure from the Guatemalans eventually saw forward Carlos Ruiz tie the match in the 88th minute to salvage the draw for the home side.
"We earned an important point on the road," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena after the match. "The conditions were difficult with the travel and the heat, but it wasn't something we weren't expecting and it wasn't something we weren't prepared for. Winning at home and taking points on the road is what World Cup qualifying is all about."
The U.S. goal came on the stroke of halftime, with Razov finishing a nice build-up from the U.S. with a blast from 17-yards out that deflected off lunging Guatemalan defender Luis Swisher and over goalkeeper Edgar Estrada into the upper left corner of the goal.Claudio Reyna was responsible for freeing Razov with some nice combination passing that saw the ball go into U.S. midfielder Earnie Stewart at the top of the penalty area, then back out to Reyna who returned it directly to Razov.
Razov, who earned his 10th cap for the U.S. and Chevrolet Man of the Match honors, collected the ball well at the top of the area, then freed himself for the shot with a quick step to his left. The goal was the third of Razov's U.S. career, and marked his third straight game with a goal (one shy of a U.S. record).
After controlling play in the first half and compiling a 7-2 advantage in shots, the U.S. was under siege in the second half with Guatemala desperately trying to tie the match and outshooting the U.S. 14 to 3 in the final 45 minutes. That total included a 10-3 advantage for Guatemala in the opening 25 minutes of the second half.
On the goal that tied the match, second half substitute Dwight Pezzarossi out-jumped defender Greg Vanney to head a ball down into the path of Ruiz, who was able to get a half-step ahead of Robin Fraser and slide a shot past goalkeeper Kasey Keller into the right side of the net.
Prior to the goal, the Guatemalan pressure almost paid off in the 80th minute when a corner kick from forward Freddy Garcia sailed across the U.S. goalmouth, skimmed off the head of U.S. defender Robin Fraser and clanked off the bottom of the left post. The ball was then cleared out of danger by second-half substitute Frankie Hejduk.
The draw for the U.S. marked the eighth consecutive World Cup qualifying match without a loss, going back to 1997, just two games short of the team's all-time mark.
In the other "Group E" World Cup qualifying opener, Costa Rica and Barbados will battle in St. Michaels, Barbados on Sunday night.
Following today's draw, the U.S. Men returned immediately to their base camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where they will train this week before continuing their qualifying saga next week in Costa Rica. The U.S. will battle the "Ticos" in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Sunday, July 23, live on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. ET. Following the match in Costa Rica, the U.S. will play three straight qualifiers at home, beginning with an August 16 date at Foxboro Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., against Barbados. The U.S. will then face Guatemala again on Sept. 3 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and Costa Rica on Oct. 11 at Columbus Crew Stadium.
2000 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. Guatemala National Team|
|Competition:||2002 World Cup CONCACAF Qualifying - Semifinal Round, Group E|
|Venue:||Estadio Carlos Salazar Hijo (Mazatenango, Guatemala)|
|Date:||July 16, 2000 - Kickoff 11 a.m. local (MT)|
|Weather:||93 degrees - Hot, humid|
USA - Ante Razov, (Claudio Reyna), 46+,
GUA - Carlos Ruiz, (Dwight Pezzarossi), 88.
USA - 18-Kasey Keller, 4-Robin Fraser, 6-David Regis, 17-Tony Sanneh, 23-Eddie Pope (22-Greg Vanney, 76), 8-Earnie Stewart (2-Frankie Hejduk, 75), 10-Claudio Reyna (capt.), 14-Chris Armas, 7-Eddie Lewis, 13-Cobi Jones (9-Tab Ramos, 78), 11-Ante Razov.
GUA - 1-Edgar Estrada, 17-German Ruano, 4-Luis Swisher, 3-Erick Miranda, 5-Gustavo Cabrera, 10-Juan Manuel Funes (11-Freddy Garcia, 46), 7-Fabricio Benitez (16-Mario Acevedo, 68), 19-Everaldo Valencia, 23-Jorge Rodas, 15-Juan Carlos Plata (14-Dwight Pezzarossi, 73), 9-Carlos Ruiz.
|German Runo (caution)||16,|
|Chris Armas (caution)||35,|
|Jorge Rodas (caution)||39,|
|Everaldo Valencia (caution)||42,|
|Carlos Ruiz (caution)||80.|
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Ante Razov