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2000 U.S. Olympic Team

Strong American effort unravels after needless penalty gives Chile lead.

Olympic Games soccer

U.S. Olympic men

Penalty kick decisive for Chile which takes bronze medal 2-0.

SYDNEY, Australia (Friday, September 29, 2000) -- The United States men gave their most spirited, aggressive performance of these Summer Olympics, but it was Chile that took home the bronze medal, using a pair of goals from striker Ivan Zamarano to defeat the Americans 2-0 in the third-place match before 26,381 fans on a lovely evening at Sydney Football Stadium.

"People that view it as just another year without the U.S. winning a medal should watch more soccer. Because maybe if they had watched more soccer and seen this team play, they would've for once ... for once, given the lads a pat on the back, instead of a kick in the pants."
-- Coach Clive Charles' post-game quote
Even with the disappointing loss, this team advanced further than any previous American side in Olympic history since the U.S. began participation in 1924. It was the first to win a preliminary group – and for that matter, the first to advance from group play.

After dominating much of the match, one fateful chain of events tilted the game in Chile’s favor. The U.S. back line had kept the dangerous Zamarano extremely quiet. In fact, through the first 60 minutes, his only shot had been a well-timed scissors kick directly into the chest of goalkeeper Brad Friedel off a Reinaldo Navia cross.

The call that would completely changed the momentum of the game and ultimately decide the outcome came against U.S. defender Danny Califf who was whistled for a foul inside the penalty area for sliding to bring down effective second-half sub Sebastian Gonzalez as he raced down left side of the box. Even though Gonzalez had lost control with a poor touch and Califf had good position to defend, the American came in from a bad angle, shoved his opponent in the back with his left hand, then chopped the Chilean’s legs out with a slide tackle.

"I was sliding to block the cross, and he kind of stepped into me and fell down," Califf said. "There was contact, but it was minimal. I'd definitely like to see the replay . . . We had most of the play up to that point, so after the penalty, we kind of had our heads down."

Zamarano took center stage and converted the resulting penalty kick inside the right post for a 1-0 lead in 70th minute.

"You have to understand, that at the point of the penalty kick, the game was ours," Clive Charles said. "I mean, it was ours -- it was all us. And then, all of a sudden they get a penalty kick, and what do you think your first reaction is? The first reaction is ‘It's not a penalty. The referee wronged us.' But you look at it tomorrow and it probably was a penalty. Was the ball running out of play? Yes. Were they about to score? No. But in the heat of battle, they want to blame somebody, so they blame the ref. Tomorrow, they'll see it and calm down and say, ‘It was a penalty.' Dan will look at that and say, ‘Maybe I should have stayed on my feet.' But those things happen and that changed the game."

The penalty kick "greatly affected the game. We were going at them and we had some chances and we had the momentum, and one call changed the whole game," U.S. defender Jeff Agoos said. " I think we did a very good job against (Zamarano) tonight. Obviously he had two goals and he's a goal scorer, but defensively we did a good job shutting him down."

With the U.S. attacking desperately, trying to tie, Chile put the match away in the 84th minute on a counterattack. Displaying textbook triangular short passing, Chile connected on 11 passes in its offensive third. Moving the ball from the left flank to the right, Claudio Maldonado and Rodrigo played give-and go to free Maldonado at the top right of the box. Facing no pressure, Maldonando found Zamarano wide-open between three defenders in the right side of the box and he tucked a 12-yards shot into the near corner past a helpless Friedel for the 2-0 final.

"You can say we're the better team all day long, but they have the bronze, so they're laughing," defender Frankie Hejduk said. "But that doesn't take away the fact that this team was just awesome the whole tournament. Just to play with these guys -- we've got a lot of great up-and-comers coming. You've probably heard it before, but the atmosphere with the staff and everything was incredible. We just had a great time the whole time. Everyone got along, so it made it that much more of a fun tournament. There was just so much cool energy around the team. That's why we were disappointed, too, because we knew how much of a team we were.

"Of course, it's a disappointment because it's such a good team and we thought we should medal, but you have to look at the positives. We played well against a world class team, and we've been doing it the whole tournament."

From the beginning, the game was even, with Chile, which led the tournament with 14 goals in six games, sitting back and absorbing the early American attacks and then trying to strike quickly with a counter, a strategy executed to perfection.

Meanwhile, the U.S. worked to its strengths and effectively attacked the flanks. In the fourth minute, Agoos put his D.C. United teammate Ben Olsen through on the left flank. Olsen ran the ball down and sent a great cross toward the far post, but a defender headed it away.

In the 17th minute, U.S. forward Josh Wolff, considered by many the best U.S. player in the Olympics, won a loose ball deep in Chile's end of the field, then sliced his way through three defenders before sending a low ball that 33-year-old Chile goalkeeper Nelson Tapia slid to save.

At halftime, the two teams had combined for just three shots.

The U.S. side started where it left off in the first half, earning a solid scoring chance seconds from kickoff. A long series of passes just outside the box ended with a Conor Casey rocket that Tapia had to parry over the crossbar.

Chile had a good chance of its own in the 56th minute on a great solo effort by Navia who worked through the U.S. defense before producing a rising shot that Friedel popped up with one hand and gathered unchallenged when it came down.

The U.S. had a golden opportunity in the 59th minute when Wolff worked a two-on-one situation with Casey to draw out Tapia. Wolff just needed to cross the ball to Casey at the far post, but as he set his left foot, he slipped and sent a short ball right into the belly of a diving Tapia.

The best scoring chance of the match came in the 66th minute on a typically dangerous Agoos corner kick from the right side. He sent an in-swinger to the near post where second-half sub Sasha Victorine flicked it across the goal mouth. Defender Brian Dunseth, who was playing in his first match of the Olympics after being sidelined with a groin injury on the eve of the tournament, leaped high and whipped a header on goal that pegged the crossbar.

"It's one of those situations where you have to look at in the most positive way," Dunseth said. "Of course, we're disappointed that we had the opportunity to bring home something. But at the same time, if you look at what we accomplished so far in this tournament and at the quality of games we've played and the quality of players we've played against, it's something to be proud of. It's tough to swallow right now, because you want to come home showing (a medal) off, but we've come to a place now where we've won so many games, we've proven that we belong on the field. Getting fourth place at the Olympics is something that no one thought we were capable of doing, so we have to be proud."

Chile 2, United States 0

Lineups: United States - Brad Friedel, Jeff Agoos, Brian Dunseth (captain), Danny Califf (13-Landon Donovan 82), Frankie Hejduk, John O'Brien, Peter Vagenas, Chris Albright, Ben Olsen (Sasha Victorine 61), Conor Casey, Josh Wolff. Chile - Nelson Tapia, Cristian Alvarez, Pablo Contreras, Pedro Reyes, Rodrigo Tello (Mauricio Rojas 86), Rafeal Olarra, Claudio Maldonado, Patricio Ormazabal (Rodrigo Nunez 36), David Pizarro, Ivan Zamarano, Reinaldo Navia (Sebastian Gonzalez 61).

Chile - Zamarano (penalty kick) 70.
Chile - Zamarano (Maldonado) 84.

Shots: United States 5, Chile 10. Shots on goal: United States 3, Chile 6. Saves: United States 4, Chile 3. Corner kicks: United States 6, Chile 1 Fouls: United States 23, Chile 11. Offside: United States 1, Chile 5. Yellow card cautions: United States - Wolff 36, O’Brien 51, Casey 71, Hejduk 77; Chile - Ormazabal 32, Maldonado 39, Gonzalez 63.

Referee: Simon Micallef (Australia) Referee’s assistants: Michael Ragoonath (Trinidad & Tobago), Mulumba Ali Tomosange (Uganda). Attendance: 26,381 at Sydney (Australia) Football Stadium. Weather: 82 degrees, warm, pleasant.

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