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Beasley's pair sparks 3-0 victory over Grenada to open qualifing series.

Second-half goals relieve pressure on U.S. for Grenada return leg.

McBride's two goals spark 4-0 romp over Honduras as Reyna reaches 100-cap milestone.

U.S. heads into qualifying on positive note after drubbing Honduras.

Pope knocks home rebound in stoppage time to defeat Mexico 1-0.

U.S. put in impressive effort against Mexico, even before Pope won it.

Beasley goal defeats Poland 1-0, hands Arena first win over host Europeans.

Gritty American effort defeats Poland for first win of 2004.

Califf's tally late in stoppage time salvages 1-1 draw with Haiti.

Outplayed by Haiti, Americans are fortunate to gain 1-1 draw.

Goal by teen Robben sends Netherlands past U.S. 1-0.

Netherlands was clearly superior in victory over Americans.

  • Americans take it to next round with 3-2 defeat of Grenada.

    Analysis

    Mission accomplished for Americans in disposing of Grenada.

    By Robert Wagman
    SoccerTimes

    (Sunday, June 20, 2004) -- The United States men did what they had to do, but not much more, in defeating host Grenada 3-2 at the National Cricket Stadium in St. George's for a 6-2 aggregate victory that advanced them to the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

    The match was played in the rain on a flooded field with an occasional tropical downpour adding to the mess. That hugely affected play, but the U.S. was again unable to convert numerous chances and to put the match far out of reach despite playing a man up for the final 35 minutes.

    The field conditions were awful, with standing water everywhere. The ball repeatedly either stopped dead or skipped out of bounds, and there was almost no footing for the players. What the conditions did was to even out the match with the U.S. rarely able to take advantage of its clear superiority.

    Midfielder Landon Donovan got the U.S. off to a flying start in the sixth minute and, despite giving up a tying penalty-kick goal, the Americans absolutely dominated the first half hour. Given halfway decent finishing, the U.S. could have and should have had four goals by that point. Then came another round of torrential rain and the rest of the match was simply a hard slog through the wet and the mud.

    "It was a good game," said U.S. manager Bruce Arena after the match. "I thought the field conditions made it difficult for both teams. These games tend to be games of mistakes. You need to be alert for 90 minutes."

    There were a couple of differences between this match and the 3-0 American victory in the home leg a week ago in Columbus, Ohio. Going into the match three goals down, Grenada coach Alister Debellotte promised his team would open up and attack. It did and this should have made them susceptible to U.S. counter-attacks. However, Mother Nature made that difficult and the U.S. was never able to pull away for a convincing win.

    Another big difference today was the defense. Cory Gibbs in the middle had his hands full with big Grenada striker Jason Roberts, the veteran of upper-division English soccer. At the same time, both Bobby Convey on the outside and Pablo Mastroeni in the middle seem more comfortable as midfielders than as defenders. Grenada still had few real chances, but the American back line was less steady than it was a week ago with Eddie Pope, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and Greg Vanney.

    Still, in the final analysis, the U.S. did what it had to do to advance, even if it was, at times, in less than absolutely convincing fashion. Having cleared the first hurdle, things will become considerably more difficult, starting August 18, with Jamaica, Panama and El Salvador in the next round.


    U.S. player ratings

    Starters

    Goalkeeper Kasey Keller - 5.5: Had great difficulty with the mud in front of both goals. On a dry field, he probably would have controlled the cross that led to the second Grenada goal.

    Defender Bobby Convey - 5: Spent much of the match pushed far forward on attack to the point he ignored defensive responsibilities. He remains an attacking midfielder at heart and his defense needs a large amount of work.

    Defender Cory Gibbs - 5.5: Very good at times, but had difficulty with Roberts and did not always communicate well. Was at fault for not covering the outside on the long run that resulted in the second Grenada goal.

    Defender Pablo Mastroeni - 5.5: Seemed unsettled at times, although he made only a few errors and most of those were related to the field conditions. Just seems more comfortable in the midfield.

    Defender Frankie Hejduk - 6: Was the best of the U.S. backs, solid on defense and pushing up well into the attack. Often came into the middle to make defensive stops.

    Midfielder Chris Armas - 6: He seems made to play in this kind of weather. Played a strong match on both ends. Greatly responsible for breaking up the Grenadian attack.

    Midfielder Claudio Reyna - 5.5: Field conditions were not conducive to his artistic game. Still, he ran the offense well before tiring in the heavy-going.

    Midfielder Landon Donovan - 7: Was the best U.S player, active and effective. Scored a nice opening goal.

    Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley - 5.5: Showed today that he is not a mudder. He had a great deal of trouble with the field conditions. Certainly made a significant effort on both ends, but overall was not overly effective.

    Forward Brian McBride - 5: Was dreadful finishing. He should have had a couple of goals in the first half if he converted half his chances.

    Forward Josh Wolff - 5.5: A workman-like appearance. Did well despite the conditions, but still looks like he has a long way to go to return to the level he achieved before injuries slowed him.

    Reserves

    Midfielder Earnie Stewart (63rd minute for Wolff) - 5.5: His 100th cap and a nice performance. Controlled the right side late. He made a nice assist on the third goal, but still has trouble finishing.

    Midfielder Kerry Zavagnin (80th minute for Reyna) - 5.5: Came in as a defensive midfielder at a point in the match when both sides were just trying to slog to the end. Made no major mistakes, but did not have much of an impact either.

    Defender Greg Vanney (88th minute for Convey) - no rating: Mop-up duty in the final minutes.

    Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman.

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