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Gold Cup

Jones nets 3rd straight winner, providing 1-0 win over Peru in Gold Cup; Colombia is next Saturday.

MIAMI, (Wednesday, February 16, 2000) -- Cobi Jones became the first United States man in 28 years to score a goal in three straight games, finding net in the 59th minute to send the United States to a 1-0 victory over Peru tonight in Gold Cup opening-round play before 36,004 at the Orange Bowl.

With Jones providing the game-winner for the third outing in a row, the U.S. won Group B with a 2-0 record and advanced to a Saturday 3 p.m. (ET) quarterfinal against Group A runnerup Colombia (1-1) at the Orange Bowl in a match televised live on Spanish-language Univision. Peru (0-1-1), as Group B runnerup, moved to a quarterfinal meeting with Honduras (2-0) here at 5:30 p.m.

Despite his heroics, Jones pointed to U.S coach Bruce Arena for his contribution to the team. "Under Bruce Arena's coaching this team has become a very confident team," he said. "In tight matches we know we can win. He's given us the confidence not to panic or to get down. So we just keep plugging and we have learned to come up with big goals like tonight."

United States scored the game's only goal in the 59th minute, starting with midfielder Eddie Lewis, who carried down left side. He cut back, putting the ball on his right foot before lifting a pass to Jones on the penalty spot. Jones timed his run well, outleaped defender Juan Reynoso and drove his header into the right corner past goalkeeper Oscar Ibanez.

"I saw both Cobi and Brian (McBride) coming in so I served it up and Cobi was there." said Lewis, who is a predominantly left-footed player. "I have been working very hard to get better with my right foot. Two feet, I don't know. Maybe this shows I have a foot and a half."

Willy Roy was the last American to score in three straight matches against Canada (twice) and Mexico in 1972. Jones now has 11 goals in 123 caps.

The U.S. evened the series with Peru at 2-2-1, defeating the South Americans for the first time since June 4, 1989.

Utilizing a now-familiar 3-5-2 formation, the Americans struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the first half. But following the halftime intermission the team showed signs of life and began to attack the Peru goal with more effectiveness, finishing with 12 shots on the night.

"Both teams played very well defensively the first half," Arena said. "Peru is a typical South American team and they all play good defense. I thought in the second half they simply ran out of gas. They played a very hard match on Monday and in the second half tonight they couldn't maintain the pace and that gave us space."

Goalkeeper Brad Friedel was outstanding in the match, turning aside four Peru shots. His best save preserved the lead in the 75th minute when he tipped Abel Lobaton's low, curling drive out of danger.

Peru forward Ysrael Zuniga tested Friedel only minutes after entering the match, slamming a one-time shot to the near post that forced the goalkeeper to make a smothering save. But Zuniga would not figure in any further scoring attempts, and was ejected in the 77th minute after receiving his second caution in 12 minutes.

"I think I am as sharp as I have ever been," Friedel said. "I am not a lazy person and I train very hard at Liverpool. I may not be playing in first team matches, but I face a lot of shots every day and I think I am playing as well as I ever have. With a team like Peru, you have to be on your toes at all times because they can get off very good, very quick shots. Both the big saves I made tonight were on very good shots that were well taken and taken very quickly."

Tonight's result extended the U.S. unbeaten run to four games (3-0-1), and provided a second straight win over South American opposition. In addition, the victory gives the Americans a second consecutive win in Miami, a city in which the team had never won an international game prior to this Gold Cup.

"We came out strong in the second half and took advantage of our chances," said Arena, who owns a 4-1-1 lifetime record against South American teams. "I expect a very competitive match from Colombia on Saturday."

United States 1, Peru 0

Lineups: United States - Brad Friedel; Greg Vanney, Eddie Pope, Carlos Llamosa, Eddie Lewis, Chris Armas, Claudio Reyna (captain), Cobi Jones (Ben Olsen 78), Jovan Kirovski; Eric Wynalda (C.J. Brown 72), Brian McBride (Ante Razov 81). Peru - Oscar Ibanez, Juan Reynoso (captain), Marcial Salazar Orbe (Ysreal Zuniga 65), Cesar Miguel Rebosio, Juan Jayo, Roberto Palacios, Roberto Holsen (German Pinillos Rioja 71), Jorge Sota, Abel Lobaton, Jose Del Solar, Henry Quinteros Sanchez.

Scoring:
United States - Jones (Lewis) 59.

Shots: United States 12, Peru 7. Saves: United States 4, Peru 2. Fouls: United States 18, Peru 13. Corner kicks: United States 8, Peru 2. Offside: United States 6, Peru 3. Yellow card cautions: United States - McBride 45; Peru - Jayo 50, Zuniga 70. Red card ejection: Peru - Zuniga (second yellow card) 77.

Referee: Felipe Ramos (Mexico). Referee assistants: Raul Osorio (Mexico), Heinrick Mackay (Aruba). Attendance: 36,004 at the Orange Bow in Miami. Weather: 75 degrees, warm, clear.

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