Wynalda, Reyna turn in strong performances in 3-0 dismissal of Haiti.By Robert Wagman
MIAMI (Saturday, February 12, 2000) -- Those who thought Eric Wynalda’s days with the United States national team were over may need to rethink the proposition.
Wynalda made a beautiful feed to set up the first goal by Jovan Kirovski and later netted a penalty kick as the U.S. dominated Haiti 3-0 in the Gold Cup Group B opener for both nations tonight before a pro-Haiti crowd exceeding 30,000 at the Orange Bowl.
Wynalda, a veteran with 104 caps, extended his U.S. career record with 34 goals and assumed the lead with his 15th assist.
"No I don't think my performance tonight shows I am fully back," said Wynalda, who is coming back after a serious knee injury. "I feel fine physically. But I need more games at this level to really be sharp. There were times in the first half when I should have done more with the ball. I don't think I had a particularly good first half. I know I can and will play a lot better."
With the victory, the U.S. is 2-0-1 in 2000 and 11-0 in the opening round of the Gold Cup since the biannual regional championship began play in 1991.
"It's important that we play well and continue to improve. I think we did that tonight," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. "We played well tonight especially considering it was the first game of the tournament and those can be difficult. This was a team that got numbers behind the ball and was difficult to break down. We can be cleaner in the final third of the field and get better chances. We weren't tonight."
The U.S. opened the scoring in the 18th minute on Kirovski's seventh international goal. Midfielder Eddie Lewis sent a short right-side corner kick to playmaker Claudio Reyna who crossed to the far post to Wynalda. On the first touch, Wynalda centered the ball to the six-yard line where a charging Jovan Kirovski headed home a shot that bounced once before scrapping the bottom of the crossbar and going in.
After dominating the first half for long periods, the U.S. added a second goal 10 minutes into the second half on Wynalda's penalty kick, which was awarded after Claudio Reyna cut into right side of box and is taken down from behind by Jean Roland Dartiguenave. The play is started by throw-in by midfielder Ben Olsen to Wynalda who pushed back a pass into Reyna's path.
Wynalda went left with his PK behind goalkeeper Didier Menard who guessed wrong to make it 2-0.
"It was expected we would control the ball and get possessions," Reyna said. “We got the chances we wanted, but we didn't put a lot of them away. We did come into the game with the right attitude and we came away with the three points and that's what counts."
Cobi Jones sealed the win with his second goal in two games, calmly eluding the goalkeeper and slotting home an angled shot in the 89th minute after Reyna played a long ball through midfield.
"We knew going in we couldn't take Haiti lightly, and I'm glad we were able to finish our chances because their team has improved very much in a short period of time," Wynalda said.
U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel earned his 18th shutout for the United States, turning aside three Haiti shots.
“We didn’t play to our potential," Haiti coach Immanuel Sanon. “We will play better against Peru. We played too slow, especially in the back. We didn’t push forward enough.”
The U.S. concludes Group B play Wednesday night against Peru at the Orange Bowl at 9 p.m. (ET).
United States 3, Haiti 0Lineups: United States - Brad Friedel; Jeff Agoos, Robin Fraser, C.J. Brown; Ben Olsen, Chris Armas, Claudio Reyna, Jovan Kirovski, Eddie Lewis; Cobi Jones, Eric Wynalda (Richie Williams, 69). Haiti - Didier Menard, Roosevelt Desir (Eddy Cesar, 46), Michel Gabriel, Sebastien Vorbe, Chrismonor Thelusma, Wilson Chevalier (Johnny Decollines, 46, Golman Pierre, 84), Pierre Richard Bruny, Wilfred Montilas, Ernst C. Athis, Carlo Marcellin, Jean Roland Dartiguenave.
Shots: United States 5, Haiti 9. Saves: United States 3, Haiti 1. Corner kicks: United States 4, Haiti 4. Fouls: United States 7, Haiti 7. Offside: United States 4, Haiti 3. Yellow card cautions: United States - Lewis 24; Haiti - Montias 43.
Referee: Olger Mejias (Costa Rica). Assistant referees: Henrick Mackay, Virgilio Ruiz. Attendance: 30,000+ at Orange Bowl in Miami. Weather: 70 degrees, clear.