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Arena, Reyna suspended for qualifiers
for actions against ref after loss in
Costa Rica.

CHICAGO (Thursday, September 14, 2000) -- United States coach Bruce Arena and midfielder Claudio Reyna have been suspended by world governing body FIFA for their actions following a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica July 23.

The United States Soccer Federation was been notified today by the FIFA disciplinary committee that Arena is suspended for three qualifying matches and Reyna for two, one of the most severe penalties in recent memory. While Reyna's suspension is final with no chance of appeal, U.S. Soccer is evaluating the appeal process in regard to Arena's penalty.

"We respect and understand the FIFA Disciplinary Committee's decisions in this matter," said U.S. Soccer Secretary General Dan Flynn in a written statement. "We have spoken to both Bruce and Claudio and they understand the reasons behind FIFA's decision. What's important now is how we move forward in preparation for our two remaining World Cup qualifiers in this round. All of our preparation is geared toward advancing to the next round of qualifying, and that is what our team needs to be focused on."

There are two games remaining in the CONCACAF qualifying Group E semifinal round, the U.S. (2-1-1, 7 points) hosts Costa Rica on Oct. 11 at Columbus (Ohio) Crew Stadium before traveling to Barbados for its sixth and final semifinal match on Nov. 15. The top two teams advance to the six-nation round-robin finals with the top three qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.

The U.S. is currently in second place in their four-team group with seven points, behind Costa Rica's nine points and ahead of Guatemala (four points) and Barbados (three points). The top two teams in the group will advance to the final six-team group of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying to be played in 2001.

In San Jose, Costa Rica, the U.S. appeared to have a 1-1 draw with the home team when Jamaican referee Peter Prendergast whistled American defender Gregg Berhalter of an apparently non-existent hand ball in the penalty area. Hernan Medford converted the penalty kick to give the Ticos the 2-1 victory.

After the final whistle, Arena was seen berating Prendergast and Reyna took off his captainís armband and threw it at the referee.

"This was disgraceful," Arena said afterward. "I told the ref he cheated us, and I'd like to see him walk in this locker room and explain this officiating to these players."

After learning of the suspension today, Arena said, "The game in Costa Rica was an emotional defeat for us, and our reactions to that loss were equally emotional. We acknowledge and understand FIFA's decision in this process, and we need to put it behind us and move forward in our preparation for these upcoming games."

The U.S. is already without suspended midfielders Earnie Stewart (two yellow cards) and Eddie Lewis (red card against Guatemala on September 3) for the Costa Rica match and now have to cope with the loss of Reyna in the center of the field. Starting midfielder Chris Armas is out with a knee injury, and probably so is No. 1 goalkeeper Kasey Keller who broke a finger with his Spanish club Rayo Vallecano.

"Everyone that has watched me throughout my career, knows how uncharacteristic my actions were after the loss in Costa Rica, and I am sorry for losing my composure," said Reyna from Scotland where he is with the Glasgow Rangers."

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