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Mexico wins Americansí trophy for third straight time, 2-1, over U.S.

By Robert Wagman

SAN DIEGO (Saturday, March 13, 1999) -- Called in for emergency service, United States goalkeeper Zach Thornton was able to make one point-blank save, but not a second. Resultantly, striker Jose Manuel Abundis knocked home a two-yard rebound in the 57th minute to give Mexico a 2-1 victory and the Nike U.S. Cup í99 title before 50,324 festive fans this afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium.

It was the third straight U.S. Cup title for Mexico (2-0, 6 points) after wins in 1996 and Ď97. Guatemala (1-1, 3 points) took third place, getting goals from Jorge Perez and Edgar Valencia for a 2-1 victory over Bolivia. The United States (1-1, 3 points) finished second, having a better goal differential than Guatemala, which it beat 3-1 Thursday.

Six minutes after midfielder Frankie Hejduk had tied the score for the U.S. at 1-1. Joel Sanchez, who scored both goals in Mexico's 2-1 victory over Bolivia on Thursday, blasted a 12-yard shot that Thornton was able to stop with a dive to his right. But there was nothing he could do the ball bounded to the feet of a wide-open Abundis, who buried a shot two yards into the empty net.

"Zach was put in a difficult position today," said Bruce Arena, who suffered his first setback as U.S. coach and has a 3-1-2 record. "I certainly canít blame him, but it certainly was disheartening for them to come back as quickly as they did."

Thornton was called on in the 17th minute after starter Tony Meola was knocked out of the match during the events that led to Mexicoís first tally, an own goal. Abundis penetrated deep into the left corner and sent a dangerous, bending cross directly in front of the net. As U.S. defender Robin Fraser and Mexican forward Francisco Palencia converged on Abundis' cross, the ball inadvertently bounced off Fraser into the net.

"I was just trying to get between the man and the ball," Fraser said. "I thought I was in very good position. Then I slipped. I just slipped and the ball ran up my body, then off my shoulder and in."

Meola was hit in the face by Palencia and was forced to leave the match, returning to the bench in street clothes in the second half with a swollen face and 25 stitches to close the gash in his mouth.

"I thought I could get the ball and remember sliding out and then I donít remember anything," Meola said. "I came out and he hit me."

Both Meola and Arena claimed that there should have been a foul called on Palencia and the goal should not have counted. "That was a foul on Meola," Arena said. "The goal should not have counted, but the referee let it go."

Hejduk netted his second goal in of the tournament in the 51st minute. Fraser started the play with his overlapping run on the right side. His cross from the endline was poorly cleared by Pavel Pardo and Hejduk was well-positioned to hit a first-time shot that beat keeper Oscar Perez from 11 yards.

"I've give our guys a lot of credit coming back to tie," Arena said. "Our inexperience showed. We try not to play too many of our young guys at the same time, but today we got caught."

Mexico 2, United States 1

Lineups: United States - Tony Meola (Zach Thornton 17), Jeff Agoos, David Regis, Robin Fraser, Eddie Pope (Ben Olsen, 67), Eddie Lewis (Clint Mathis 82), Chris Armas, Jovan Kirovski, Frankie Hejduk, Cobi Jones, Brian McBride; Mexico - Oscar Perez, Joel Sanchez, Pavel Pardo, Salvador Carmona (Miguel Zepeda 46), Joaquin Beltran, Raul Lara, Alberto Garcia Aspe, Rafael Garcia (Ramon Ramirez 58), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Luis Hernanadez 46), Francisco Palencia (Paulo Chavez 55), Jose Manuel Abundis (Ricardo Pelaez 76).

Mexico - own goal (Fraser) 14.
United States - Hejduk (unassisted) 51;
Mexico - Abundis (Sanchez) 57.

Shots: United States 15, Mexico 14. Saves: United States 6, Mexico 9. Corner kicks: United States 5, Mexicon 6. Fouls: United States 14, Mexico 25. Offside: United States 1, Mexico 8. Yellow card cautions: Mexico - Garcia Aspe 57, Hernandez 89, Lara 91.

Referee: Rene Parra (Canada). Assistant referees: Zoran Kristo (Canada), Hector Vegara (Canada). Attendance: 50,324 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif. Weather: Sunny, clear, 71 degrees.

Guatemala 2, Bolivia 1

Lineups: Bolivia - Marco Barrero, Marco Sandy (Juan Carlos Farah 46), Luis Hector Cristaldo, Sergio Castillo (Mauricio Ramos 46), Marco Etcheverry, Milton Coimbra, Luis Liendo (Rolando Rea 85), Juan Manuel Pena, Eduardo Jiguchi (Richard Rojas 81), Juan Berthy Suarez, Ivan Castillo (Richard Uriona 46); Guatemala - Julio Engelenton, Jose Molina (Catalino Pascal 46), Nelson Caceres, Jorge Perez, Julio Rafael, Claudio Rojas, Guillermo Ortega, German Ruano, Edgar Valencia (Erik Miranda 67), Julio Rodas (Carlos Ruiz 78), Martin Machon.

Guatemala - Perez (Ortega) 18;
Guatemala - Valencia (unassisted) 26;
Bolivia - Farah (Jiguichi) 49.

Shots: Bolivia 18, Guatemala 13. Saves: Bolivia 5, Guatemala 6. Corner kicks: Bolivia 4, Guatemala 9. Fouls: Bolivia 22, Guatemala 23. Offside: Bolivia 7, Guatemala 3. Yellow card cautions: Bolivia - Liendo 35, Coimbra 48 (first half), Cristaldo 52.

Referee: Brian Hall (United States). Assistant referees: Craig Lowry (United States), Nathan Lement (United States). Attendance: 50,324 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif. Weather: Sunny, clear, 71 degrees.

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