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CONCACAF qualifying

Ruiz goal in 88th minute gives Guatemala 1-1 tie, U.S. men must settle for one hard-earned point on road.

MAZATENANGO, Guatemala (Sunday, July 16, 2000) -- The United States men had to be satisfied, taking home a point after battling to a 1-1 draw against Guatemala in the opening CONCACAF Group E qualifying match today in the stifling heat and humidity of Carlos Salazar Hijo Stadium.

World Cup Qualifying
Team W L T GF GA Pts
Barbados 1 0 0 2 1 3
USA 0 0 1 1 1 1
Guatemala 0 0 1 1 1 1
Costa Rica 0 1 0 1 2 0
Group E standings through round 1
Thus the road to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan has begin. But allowing the tying goal to Carlos Ruiz in the 88th minute was also a bitter pill after a strong first-half performance in adverse conditions before 9,500 fans, wildly supportive of their national side.

"We earned an important point on the road," said U.S. coach Bruce Arena. "The conditions were difficult with the travel and the heat, but it wasn't something we weren't expecting and it wasn't something we weren't prepared for. Winning at home and taking points on the road is what World Cup qualifying is all about."

Ante Razov
Ante Razov
After striker Ante Razov found net in first-half extra time to put U.S. ahead 1-0, the team looked poised to steal its first-ever World Cup qualifying victory in Guatemala, but sustained pressure from the Guatemalans eventually allowed the home side to steal two points from the Americans in addition to earning one for itself.

At the stroke of halftime, Razov gave the U.S. a 1-0 advantage after a nice build-up. Claudio Reyna was responsible for freeing Razov with some nice combination passing that saw the ball go into fellow midfielder Earnie Stewart at the top of the penalty area, then back out to Reyna who returned it directly to Razov.

Razov, who earned his 10th cap for the U.S, collected the ball well at the top of the area, then beat Erick Miranda with a quick step to his left before Razov launching a 17-yard shot that deflected off lunging Luis Swisher and over goalkeeper Edgar Estrada into the upper left corner of the goal.

The goal was the third of Razov's U.S. career and marked his third straight game with a goal, one shy of a U.S. record.

After controlling play in the first half and compiling a 7-2 advantage in shots, the U.S. was under siege in the second half with Guatemala desperately trying to tie the match and outshooting the U.S. 14-3 in the final 45 minutes. That total included a 10-3 advantage for Guatemala in the opening 25 minutes of the second half.

On the goal that tied the match, second-half substitute Dwight Pezzarossi out jumped defender Greg Vanney to head a ball down into the path of Ruiz, who was able to get behind central defender Robin Fraser and slide a shot past goalkeeper Kasey Keller into the right side of the net.

Prior to the goal, the Guatemalan pressure almost paid off in the 80th minute when a corner kick from forward Freddy Garcia sailed across the U.S. goal mouth, skimmed off the head of Fraser and clanked off the bottom of the left post. The ball was then cleared out of danger by second-half replacement Frankie Hejduk.

United States 1, Guatemala 1

Lineups: Guatemala - Edgar Estrada, German Ruano, Luis Swisher, -Erick Miranda, Gustavo Cabrera, Juan Manuel Funes (Freddy Garcia 46), Fabricio Benitez (Mario Acevedo 68), Everaldo Valencia, Jorge Rodas, Juan Carlos Plata (Dwight Pezzarossi 73), Carlos Ruiz. United States - Kasey Keller, Robin Fraser, David Regis, Tony Sanneh, Eddie Pope (Greg Vanney 76), Earnie Stewart (Frankie Hejduk 75), Claudio Reyna (captain), Chris Armas, Eddie Lewis, Cobi Jones (Tab Ramos 78), Ante Razov.

Scoring:
United States - Razov (Reyna) 46+.
Guatemala - Ruiz (Pezzarossi) 88.

Shots: Guatemala 16, United States 10. Saves: Guatemala 3, United States 2. Corner kicks: Guatemala 6, United States 6. Fouls: Guatemala 18, United States 12. Offside: Guatemala 3, United States 2. Yellow card cautions: Guatemala Runo 16, Rodas 39, Valencia 42, Ruiz 80; United States - Armas 35.

Referee: Benito Archundia Tellez (Mexico). Assistant referees: Hector Delgadillo Castaneda (Mexico), Ignacio Luna Cruz (Mexico). Attendance: 9,500 at Estadio Carlos Salazar Hijo in Mazatenango, Guatemala. Weather: 93 degrees, hot, humid.

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