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U.S. accomplished mission by gaining three points despite ugly performance.

World Cup soccer

CONCACAF qualifying

Second-half strike by McBride propels U.S. past Guatemala 1-0.

By Gary Davidson

WASHINGTON, D.C (Sunday, September 3, 2000) -- Just when things looked bleakest, midfielder Jovan Kirovski started a quick sequence that set up striker Brian McBride’s 72nd-minute goal that gave the United States a nervewracking 1-0 triumph over Guatemala this afternoon in a crucial CONCACAF semifinal round World Cup qualifier before 51,996 at sold-out RFK Stadium.

World Cup Qualifying
Team W L T GF GA Pts
Costa Rica 3 1 0 8 4 9
USA 2 1 1 10 3 7
Guatemala 1 2 1 4 4 4
Barbados 1 3 0 2 13 3
Group E standings through 4 of 6 qualifying games

Other games
Costa Rica 3
Barbados 0

The Americans (2-1-1, 7 points) solidified their hold on second place in Group E with Guatemala falling to (1-2-1, 4 points). Costa Rica (3-1, 9 points) stayed in first after a 3-1 decision over Barbados (1-3, 3 points) today. A tie this afternoon with Guatemala and the U.S. would have gone into the October 11 match against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio, in a must-win situation to stay alive. Now a win over the Ticos and advancement to the final six-nation qualifying group would virtually be assured.

Playing with 10 men following midfielder Eddie Lewis’ ejection in the 65th minute, and with Guatemala content to leave town with a 0-0 draw, things looked desperate for the Americans when Kirovski collected a loose ball just in front of he center circle. He quickly sent a pass to the right side of the penalty area substitute midfielder Cobi Jones, the man he replaced in the starting lineup.

With forward Joe-Max Moore making a run across the box to the near post, Jones lofted a ball across the goal mouth to McBride, who, a step inside the corner of the six-yard box, drilled a left-footer that squeezed between the left post and scrambling goalkeeper Edgar Estrada.

"A pretty good whack, it broke my shinguard."
-- Brian McBride, after his goal, on his collision with Guatemala 'keeper Edgar Estrada
"We probably caught them out of position a little bit," said McBride, who now has four goals in 2000 and 13 in his career. "Joe-Max made a run to the near post and Cobi looked up, and, I think, out of the corner of his eye he saw me. Joe’s run took my guy. He went with Joe and it left me pretty wide-open. Cobi basically played a perfect ball and there was lots of tome to line it up well.

"Cobi kept his head, used the vision that he had and played a great ball."

McBride paid a price for his heroics with Estrada kicking him in the leg. "A pretty good whack," McBride said. "It broke my shinguard."

Guatemala, routinely paying seven men on defense, often eight after intermission, managed its most dangerous opportunity in the 87th minute. Defender Erick Miranda sent a cross from the right flank past the far post to forward Dwight Pezzarossi, who nodded the ball into the center. Midfielder Fabrizio Bentitez slipped behind the U.S. defense, but bending slightly, could not get much on his header and headed it directly at American keeper Kasey Keller.

"I thought our backs were quite good today, especially (Gregg) Berhalter and (Eddie) Pope were strong," said U.S. coach Bruce Arena. "They were able to flight some balls into the box, but there weren’t any clearcut chances except for the header (Benitez) had."

Flank midfielders Jones and Lewis entered the match for midfielder Earnie Stewart and defender Tony Sanneh in the 57th minute as Arena, looking for that all-important single tally, switched from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2. Eight minutes later, however, Lewis was stripped by Benitez. As the American fought to regain possession, he swung his elbow catching Benitez in the face and earning a red card.

"It wasn’t deliberate," Lewis said. "I wasn’t trying to elbow him in the face."

With the U.S. a man down, it seemed Guatemala was well on its way to the scoreless tie it desired. But midfielder Juan Manuel Funes said possibly what the Chapins gained was a false sense of security. "I thought when Lewis was sent off, we were a little confident," he said. "The U.S. kept pushing forward. That got the U.S. more motivated."

The U.S. had several good chances to score. Estrada stopped good efforts by Pope in the 10th minute, Kirovski in the 16th and Claudio Reyna in the 19th. In the 54th minute, Kirovski had a great opportunity in the box, taking a pass from McBride, but his side-winding volley went wide left.

"We knew we had to bear down, there wasn’t any time to waste," McBride said. "Bruce told us all week it would be a one-goal game and we had to get the one."

The crowd was the third largest ever to witness a U.S. home qualifier. "It was about 50-50" Arena said of the breakdown between American and Guatemalan supporters. "The American support was terrific."

United States 1, Guatemala 0

Lineups: Guatemala - Edgar Estrada, Erick Miranda, Luis Swisher (Fredy Garcia 74), Julio Giron, German Ruano, Fabricio Benitez, Juan Manuel Funes (Guillermo Ramirez 64), Martin Machon, Everaldo Valencia, Dwight Pezzarossi, Juan Carlos Plata (Mario Acevedo 37). United States - Kasey Keller, Tony Sanneh (Cobi Jones 57), Gregg Berhalter, Eddie Pope, David Regis, Earnie Stewart (Eddie Lewis 57), John O'Brien, Claudio Reyna [captain] (Carlos Llamosa 77), Jovan Kirovski, Brian McBride, Joe-Max Moore.

United States - McBride (Jones) 72.

Shots: Guatemala 8, United States 16. Saves: Guatemala 5, United States 3. Corner kicks: Guatemala 7, United States 4. Fouls: Guatemala 15, United States 15. Offside: Guatemala 2, United States 1. Yellow card caution: Guatemala - Giron 20, Valencia 73, Pessarossi 89; United States - Regis 26, Stewart 32 (second yellow). Red card ejection: United States - Lewis 65.

Referee: Ulises Rangel (Mexico). Assistant referees: n/a. Attendance: 51,556 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Weather: 84 degrees, cloudy, humid.

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