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Beasley gives U.S. a Gold Cup win in match it easily could have easily lost.

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Beasley’s winner in closing seconds finishes South Korea 2-1, puts positive spin on spotty Gold Cup performance.

PASADENA, Calif. (Saturday, January 19, 2001) -- DaMarcus Beasley provided an exhilarating end to what had otherwise been a dreary evening for the American men.

Twelve minutes after entering, Beasley had his first international goal, coming in the second minute of stoppage time and less than 30 seconds from the final whistle, to lift the United States to a 2-1 triumph over South Korea in the opening CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B match before 42,117 at the Rose Bowl last night.

"I was very excited, and I happy to help my team out," Beasley said. "It’s a sense of pride to be out there fighting for my country in a big tournament on our way to the World Cup. It felt good when I hit it and I’m very happy."

The U.S., 11-0 all-time in Gold Cup preliminary group, faces Cuba Monday at 6 p.m. (ET), needing a victory or draw to advance to the tournament’s quarterfinals. That game can be seen on television only via pay-per-view. Depending on the result of South Korea’s Wednesday meeting with Cuba to complete Group B, the Americans could also advance with a loss to Cuba since the top two of the three nations advance.

Regardless of the result, it was South Korea that controlled large portions of tonight's match and produced the better scoring chances. "It wasn't a pretty game today, for sure. Korea is a very difficult team to play against, they are very physical and very aggressive," said U.S. coach Bruce Arena. "It's been such a long layoff for a number of players, it's nice to get back on the field and start moving forward as a group. I'm pleased with the win today. Maybe a point would have been a fair result, but we're going to take it."

Both American goals were scored by 19-year-olds with midfielder Landon Donovan giving the U.S. a short-lived 1-0 lead late in the first half. "I'm happy that there weren't any rule requirements that you couldn't play teenagers today because we'd be in trouble if that were the case," Arena said. "Landon had a very good game. He was part of a bunch of big plays in the game. . . He had a great performance today.

"We’ll make changes. We’ll see what our players look like tomorrow. Obviously it’s very difficult playing an international tournament with two games in three days and not really being able to change your roster because of the rules. It’s going to be difficult to sort that out, but if we can get through the Cuba game, we will certainly be rested by next weekend."

A draw certainly seemed to be the final outcome tonight until an alert throw-in from reserve Cobi Jones that found fellow forward Brian McBride behind the defense for a quick flick to Donovan. The teenager immediately passed Jeff Cunningham, a substitute midfielder who spotted Beasley racing down the left side flank. Cunningham’s chip across the box caught Beasley in stride for a clean first-time volley which skimmed under the crossbar, safely beyond the reach of goalkeeper Lee Woon-Jae

"Bruce (Arena) called me up to the sideline and basically told me to be aggressive and go at them," said Beasley who made his fourth appearance for his national team. "He wanted me to try and get crosses into Brian (McBride) and use my speed to my advantage and that’s what I did. It was a great counter-attack by us. Landon got the ball out to Jeff Cunningham and the defender had to leave me and went to Jeff. I was yelling at him because I was wide open. He put in a nice little chip over the defender’s head and I saw a little corner in the near post and I just hit it. Luckily it went in."

"This was only my second real scoring chance with the national team. I had one against China that nearly went in."

Thus, all three of Arena’s subs -- Jones, Cunningham and Beasley -- figured in the winning sequence.

The U.S. got off to a bad start when defender Danny Califf, making his first international appearance, was forced to pull down Choi-Yong Soo after he broke free in the penalty area in the seventh minute. Like so many times in the past, however, U.S. keeper Kasey Keller rose to the occasion, holding his ground, rather than guessing, and taking Korean captain Yoo-Sang Chul penalty attempt into his gut to keep the game scoreless.

"I just had a feeling," Keller said. "I had a game a couple weeks ago (playing for Tottenham Hotspur) against Aston Villa and we conceded a late penalty. I had the feeling then too that the guy was going up the middle and I just couldn’t get myself to stand there. I had the exact same feeling today that this guy’s hitting it up the middle, and I just made myself stand there and sure enough, that’s what he did. He hit it right to me and I was able to keep it close enough."

Keller also made a brilliant save in the 30th minute, lunging to his left to save a bending shot off the foot of Korean forward Cha Doo-Ri. Five minutes later, despite a lack of possession and clear chances for most of the first half, the U.S grabbed a 1-0 advantage.

Striker Ante Razov retreated into the midfield and spotted Donovan initiating a long run. Striking a clever pass with the outside of his left foot, Razov found Donovan catching the Korean defense in a failed offside trap. With Lee approaching, Donovan used his first touch to loft a shot over the keeper for his second international goal.

"Ante had a lot of time in the middle, so I made the run and he gave me a perfect ball," Donovan said. "I wasn’t thinking about what I was going to do with it, but the goalie committed himself and the ball was bouncing so it made it easy for me.

"It was just a sloppy game. There wasn’t good passing; it wasn’t attractive. But the goals were very good. We had a great two weeks of training, and hopefully we’ll get better as the tournament goes on."

South Korea needed three minutes to pull even at 1-1. Song Chong-Gug found space 35 yards from goal and struck a wicked bending ball that confounded Keller and settled into the far right corner of the net.

The first 10 minutes of the second half looked much like the first with the U.S. absorbing consistent pressure. Then the match took a major turn in the 56th minute when South Korean defender Choi Jin-Cheul was ejected, reducing his side to 10 men.

Donovan was in the middle of this event, also, with another well-timed run from deep in the midfield. Taking a chip from McBride over the Korean back line, Donovan was off on a breakaway, leaving Choi no alternative but to pull the American down and take the red card.

Despite the man advantage, the only great opportunity the U.S. created was in the 72nd minute when McBride, cutting across the penalty area, fired a low volley that nearly sneaked through the legs of keeper Lee Won-Jae.

"Part of this exercise in the Gold Cup is to move our team along in 2002 to prepare for the World Cup," Arena said. "Therefore, we’re looking at a bunch of (Major League Soccer) players and evaluating them, and that’s what I’m Iearning, which is how some of these players can perform at the international level. I need to be fair. Some of these players are young and getting baptized in the game right now.

Keller earned his 11th straight victory on U.S. soil since a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands February 21, 1998.

"Not a bad record," Keller said. "If they could move the World Cup to the U.S. we’d have a good shot."

United States 2, South Korea 1

Lineups: United States - Kasey Keller, Frankie Hejduk, Danny Califf, Jeff Agoos (captain), Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, Chris Armas, Manny Lagos (Jeff Cunningham 64), Eddie Lewis (DaMarcus Beasley 79), Brian McBride, Ante Razov (Cobi Jones 75). South Korea - Lee Woon-Jae, Choi Jin-Chul, Yoo Sang-Chul, Kim Tae-Young, Park Ji-Sung, Song Chong-Gug, Kim Nam-Il, Lee Eul-Yong (Hyun Young-Min72), Lee Chun-Soo (Lee Young-Pyo 72), Choi Yong-Soo, Cha Doo-Li (Kim Sang-Sik 87).

United States - Donovan (Razov) 35.
South Korea - Song 38.
United States - Beasley (Cunningham) 92+.

Shots: United States 9, South Korea 15. Saves: United States 4, South Korea 3. Corner kicks: United States 4, South Korea 4. Fouls: United States 14, South Korea 21. Offside: United States 7, South Korea 2. Yellow card cautions: United States - Califf 17, Lewis 27; South Korea - Kim N-I 11, Lee C-S 29). Red card ejection: South Korea - Choi J-C 56.

Referee: Samuel Richard (Dominican Republic) Assistant referees: Erick Moras (Costa Rica), Michael Ragoonath (Trinidad & Tobago). Attendance: 42,117 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Weather: 60 degrees, fair.

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