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Hadji penalty kick lifts Morocco to 2-1 victory, despite Wynalda goal.

MARRAKECH, Morocco (Wednesday, November 17, 1999) -- Mustapha Hadji's penalty kick in the 27th minute proved to be the difference for Morocco which defeated the United States 2-1 today before 18,000 fans at Harti Stadium who witnessed the Americans' final outing of 1999.

The lone U.S. goal came from forward Eric Wynalda, who was making his first appearance for the U.S. since the 1998 World Cup. It was his 33d, the most ever by a U.S. man, in 102 career appearances.

With the loss, the U.S. finished the year 7-4-2 record under head coach Bruce Arena, who guided the team to a third-place finish in the Confederations Cup and to victories over Argentina, Chile and Germany (twice) in his first full year at the helm.

Morocco opened the scoring in the 15th minute with midfielder Adil Ramzi slotting a ball home from eight yards out. Forward Salaheddine Bassir began the play from the left wing, beating a defender and driving a low, line drive to Ramzi in the penalty area.

The U.S. tied the score at 1-1 two minutes later with Wynalda collecting a long ball out of the midfield from Chad Deering and hitting a right-foot shot into the lower left corner of the goal.

Morocco went ahead again in the 27th minute when Hadji, the reigning African "Player of the Year" hit his PK low into the left corner to beat U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller. The penalty was awarded because a foul was called on Keller on Bassir in the box.

"I don't think I touched him (Bassir) on the play," Keller said. "But in that situation, with us playing in front of such a loud crowd, you can't really expect to get calls like that in our favor. It's a tough way to lose, but we played well and everyone who saw the game knows it."

The U.S. almost tied the match in the 65th minute with Jovan Kirovski collecting a ball at midfield and dribbling 40 yards, before seeing his well-struck shot from the top of the penalty area slapped wide of the post by keeper Khalid Fouhami for a corner kick.

The game, played before a sold-out stadium, marked just the second appearance for the U.S. in Africa having previously lost in Morocco 3-1 on March 18, 1992.

Next up for the U.S. is a match against Iran January 16 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. with a live television on ESPN at 5 p.m. (ET).

Morocco 2, United States 1

Morocco - Khalid Fouhami, Lahcen Abrami, Youssef Mariana, Nourreddine Naybet, Abdelilah Fahmi, Tahar El Khalej, Said Chiba, Youssef Chippo (Abdelilah Saber 46, Rachid Benmahmoud 72), Mustapha Hadji, Adil Ramzi (Redouane El Allaly 75), Salaheddine Bassir; United States - Kasey Keller (Brad Friedel 46), David Regis, Gregg Berhalter, C.J. Brown, Frankie Hejduk, Chris Armas, Chad Deering, Claudio Reyna, Jovan Kirovski, Joe-Max Moore (Steve Ralston 76), Eric Wynalda (Jason Kreis 59).

Morocco - Bassir (Ramzi) 15;
United States - Wynalda (Deering) 19;
Morocco - Hadji (penalty kick) 27.

Shots: Morocco 11, United States 8. Saves: Morocco 2, United States 5. Corner kicks: Morocco 5, United States 5. Fouls: Morocco 11, United States 13. Offside: Morocco 2, United States 1. Yellow card cautions: Morocco Abrami 73; United States - Berhalter 24.

Game officials: not available. Attendance: 18,000 at Harti Stadium in Marrakech, Morocco. Weather: 55 degrees, cool, crisp, clear.

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