Radosavljevic repeats his left-footed magic. His goal, Kellerís heroics spark Americansí 1-0 upset of Brazil.
LOS ANGELES (Tuesday, February 10, 1998)†-- Preki Radosavljevicís magic left foot managed another miracle in the muck tonight, nailing net from 22 yards in the 65th minute to give the United States a stunning 1-0 upset of reigning World Cup champion Brazil tonight in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal match before 12,298 fans at the soggy Los Angeles Coliseum.
For the second time in three days, Radosavljevic came off the bench after halftime to provide the game-winner for the Americans from outside the penalty area, minutes after entering the match. Without his deciding tally with 13 minutes remaining in a preliminary-round 2-1 decision over Costa Rica Saturday, the U.S. would not have advanced to the semifinals and had the opportunity to defeat Brazil for the first time ever.
"It was just one of those things. It was my first touch (of the game)," Radosavljevic said. "I had one chance and I put it away. To come off the bench and score against a team like Brazil is great."
Previously, the U.S. was 0-8 against Brazil and had not scored since a 4-3 exhibition loss against the four-time world champs on August 17, 1930.
"I donít have words," said U.S. coach Steve Sampson amidst his sideís on-field celebration. "We know this isnít the best Brazilian team, but this is Brazil. It doesnít matter. Weíre in the finals. Iím very proud of my boys . . . It is (Radosavljevicís) job to score goals in the second half. Two incredible goals, two games in a row."
The Americans advance to Sunday nightís title match against the winner of Thursday eveningís other semifinal between Mexico and Jamaica. Within one game of capturing the crown of the region that includes North America, the Carribean and Central America, the U.S. is currently riding its longest winning streak in team history at six and has tied its longest unbeaten string at nine.
Despite Radosavljevicís heroics, the triumph would have not been possible without the sensational goalkeeping of Kasey Keller, who joined the team from his British Premier Division club Leicester City following the two U.S. preliminary-round victories.
Playing behind an often porous defense, the majority of Kellerís 10 saves were spectacular, including three point-blank stops in the first half of Romario, the most valuable player of the 1994 World Cup. The best of those came three minutes to go before intermission when Keller sprang instantaneously to his right to snare the veteran strikerís well-placed three-yard header. Romario shook Kellerís hand before returning to the action.
"They were missing a few players. You have to give them credit. It wasn't their full team," said Keller in a television interview. "But it still was a tremendous occasion for us. There's a lot of times when you make one or two saves to keep your team in the game, but to make three or four is rare."
The Brazilians, missing Ronaldo, the 1996 and 1997 world player of the year, and five or six other usual starters, still had Romario, who six times had shots inside the box but came up empty. After Keller saved the first four, Romario missed the frame on the next two.
Kellerís counterpart in goal Taffarel was culpable in the Americanís goal, straying too far off his line, but that did not detract from the beauty of Radosavljevicís slicing drive. The winning sequence started deep in the Americansí defensive zone with a pair of tackles by defender Alexi Lalas, the second one on Flavio Conceicao which sent the ball to midfielder Joe-Max Moore. Moore quickly fed forward Eric Wynalda who broke free down the left wing.
Wynalda veered in toward the top corner of the penalty area, cut back toward center and pushed the ball to Radosavljevic 28 yards from the center of the goal. Radosavljevic stepped to his right, spun back to his left to elude Flavio then launched his bending blast that slipped behind inside the near post from atop the arc.
"This is the sweetest (victory ever), along with the Argentina game," a stunning 3-0 victory over the two-time World Cup champ Argentinians in the 1995 Copa America, said Sampson. "We beat two world champions . . . You know what, it doesnít matter who we play in the final."
Three minutes after the lone goal, the Americans nearly scored again. Defender Jeff Agoos sent midfielder Cobi Jones free into the left side of the box, but Taffarel dropped quickly to his right to steer the 12-yard shot wide. With the start, Jones became the third American to record 100 caps. Jones accomplished the feat in 5Ĺ years.It took Paul Caligiuri 11 years and Marcelo Balboa 7Ĺ years to reach that milestone.
The last time Brazil lost was May 30 in a 4-2 setback at Norway. The Brazilians (46-2-10) have lost just two matches since the 1994 World Cup. Brazil's other loss came against Mexico (2-0) in the 1996 Gold Cup. The last time the U.S. played Brazil was in the semifinals of the 1996 Gold Cup here at the Los Angeles Coliseum where Brazil won 1-0 on an own goal.
United States 1, Brazil 0Lineups: USA - Kasey Keller, Mike Burns, Alexi Lalas, Eddie Pope, Jeff Agoos, Frankie Hejduk, John Harkes, Joe-Max Moore, Cobi Jones, Eric Wynalda (Brian McBride 81), Roy Wegerle (Preki Radosavljevic 60). Brazil - Taffarel, Ze Maria, Junior Baiano, Goncalves, Mauro da Silva (Doriva 7), Junior, Edmundo, Flavio Conceicao (Marcos dos Santos Assuncao, 71), Zinho, Sergio Manoel (Elber 76), Romario.
Scoring: USA - Radosavljevic (Wynalda),†65. Total shots: USA 12, Brazil 21. Saves: USA 10, Brazil 4. Corner kicks: USA 6, Brazil 4. Fouls: USA 8, Brazil 8. Offsides: USA 4, Brazil 1. Yellow card cautions: USA -- Harkes 30.
Referee: Ali Mohammed Bujsaim (United Arab Emirates) Referee's assistants: John Nielsen (Canada), E. Amulfo Gozalez Gudiel (Guatemala). Attendance (Los Angeles Coliseum): 12,298 (weather: 53 degrees, partly cloudy)