Forrest, Watson are the heroes for Canada in its 1-0 upset of Trinidad.LOS ANGELES (Thursday, February 24, 2000) -- Canada continued its improbable run to the Gold Cup crown tonight, using a goal by former Major League Soccer defender Mark Watson for a 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in a semifinal before 2,841 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
With the victory, Canada will face South American finalist Colombia in the championship match Sunday in Los Angeles at 3 p.m (ET) with Univision televising the game live. Colombia, advanced to the final with a spirited 2-1 victory over Peru last night at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
The triumph also guaranteed Canada a spot in the next FIFA Confederations Cup as the champion of CONCACAF, the region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we could advance to the finals of the Gold Cup," Canada coach Olger Osieck said. “This is our first title and we are thrilled to win. It is a great day, but to be honest, we didn't play as well as we normally can. We should not forget that these players are very young, and are very excited about being in a final like this.
Watson headed home the decisive tally from six yards in the 68th minute. He was set up on the goal after flank midfielder Jim Brennan swung a left-footed free kick from the left wing across the goal mouth. Carlo Corrazin elevated high at the far post to knock the ball back to the unmarked Watson.
The man of the match for Canada, however, was clearly goalkeeper Craig Forrest, who made several spectacular saves on the night, with a penalty kick stop among his 11 saves. An aggressive T&T attack outshot Canada 22-13, which included a 12-4 advantage in shots on goals.
"It was clear to everyone in the stadium that Craig Forrest saved the victory for us today," Osieck said. “Penalty kicks are decisive moments in football. If you get one and score, it obviously helps, but if you fail to convert one like Trinidad & Tobago did, it is bad for the morale of the team."
Trinidad & Tobago had a chance to go ahead in the 35th minute when Watson was whistled for pulling down midfielder Jerren Nixon in the penalty area as he attempted to get his head on a cross from the right wing. On the ensuing penalty, however, Forrest dove to his right to snare David Nakhid's attempt.
"I am very disappointed in the performance of our team," said T&T coach Bertille St. Clair. "We gave away to many chances in the first half, and chances are like that are a key factor in games like this. Canada had one chance and they converted it. Craig Forrest was tremendous. He was the difference between them winning and losing."
In addition to that crucial play, where Forrest clearly affected Nakhid by dancing across the goal line prior to the kick, the West Ham United keeper controlled his penalty area making six first-half saves while watching T&T outshoot the Canadians 11-4 in the opening 45 minutes.
"Once they changed the rules, I don't know why everyone doesn't do it," Forrest said of his movement on the goal line. "It makes sense, and it obviously had an affect on their shooter."
The win continued Canada's surprising performance. After opening group play with two draws, Canada won a coin flip over South Korea to advance to the quarterfinals where it shocked three-time Gold Cup champion Mexico with a 2-1 extra time victory in San Diego on Sunday.
"Sunday was our greatest win," Forrest said of the decision over Mexico. "Against Mexico we had nothing to lose. If we play against Colombia like we did today, we will lose by five or six goals. Colombia is a world class team. We can't ride the luck that we had today against Colombia. Trinidad & Tobago threw everything at us, but we had answers."