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Arena saw little to please him in U.S. loss to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica earns World Cup berth, blanking Americans 3-0.

Americans take long way to San Jose to play Costa Rica.

Players need to impress Arena in Costa Rica qualifier.

Arena selects roster for qualifier in Costa Rica.

New U.S. lineup produces lackluster 0-0 draw with Guatemala.

With dominant effort, U.S. dumps Mexico and qualifies for World Cup.

Wasted chances don't stop U.S. from defeating T&T, nearing World Cup berth.

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  • Arena accomplishes goals, defeating Panama and evaluating young Americans.

    U.S. men

    Americans finish first in qualifying group by blanking Panama 2-0.

    CONCACAF qualifying
    Final round completed
    Team W L T Pts GF GA
    United States* 7 2 1 22 16 6
    Mexico 7 2 1 22 22 9
    Costa Rica 5 4 1 16 15 14
    Trinidad & Tobago 4 5 1 13 10 5
    Guatemala 3 5 2 11 16 18
    Panama 0 8 2 2 4 21
    October 12
    United States 2, Panama 0
    Trinidad & Tobago 2, Mexico 1
    Costa Rica 3, Guatemala 1
    October 8
    Costa Rica 3, United State 0
    Mexico 5, Guatemala 2
    Trinidad & Tobago 1, Panama 0

    * U.S. wins group because it outscored Mexico 3-2 in two matches between the nations.

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Wednesday, October 12, 2005) -- Using the first international goals by midfielder Kyle Martino and striker Taylor Twellman -- both in the second half -- the United States men defeated Panama 2-0 tonight to finish atop the final CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group before 9,192 who braved a blustery evening at Gillette Stadium .

    The U.S. (7-2-1, 22 points) finished atop the final CONCACAF round robin for the first time with its victory and Trinidad & Tobago's 2-1 triumph over visiting Mexico. Mexico also finished 7-2-1, but the U.S. took first place because it led 3-2 in aggregate goals in its two qualifiers against the Mexicans.

    "We started eight new players from the game on Saturday (a 3-0 loss in Costa Rica)," U.S. manager Bruce Arena said. "Since the game against Mexico, we've seen a wide number of players play. And it is all a positive experience for me. I wanted to have a look at Justin Mapp, who I haven't seen before, we got (Clint) Dempsey back again, and I thought Brian Carroll played extremely well in the midfield.

    "It is good. I just think it is a real positive because we have two objectives next year. One is clearly to make our team better and prepare for the World Cup. Secondly, it is to continue to move our domestic players along. We've had an early start on that because of the fact we qualified so early."

    Entering tonight, the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica (5-4-1, 16) had already clinched the three berths in the 2006 World Cup in Germany for the region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Trinidad & Tobago (4-5-1, 13) advanced to a two-match playoff next month against Bahrain, Asia's fifth-place team, to determine another World Cup berth.

    "Despite I read people saying the group wasn't strong. . . well, the U.S. team was stronger and Mexico was stronger and Costa Rica has an improved team from the last time around," U.S. manager Bruce Arena said. "I think the three teams that are representing CONCACAF in the World Cup are improved teams and have a chance to win some games in Germany."

    Host Guatemala (3-5-2, 11) closed with a 3-1 decision over Costa Rica, but was eliminated when Trinidad came from behind to win. Panama (0-8-2, 2) finished last.

    The U.S has selected Hamburg as its training base for Germany 2006. The Americans, who secured their Cup spot September 3 with a 2-0 shutout of Mexico at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, will learn its venue for first-round group matches December 9 at the World Cup draw in Leipzig, Germany. The Cup will be staged at 12 venues in Germany next June 9 through July 9.

    "We've made a number of trips there to look at the venue and the hotel and the training facility, and we think Hamburg is going to be a great situation for us as our base camp in Germany," Arena said.

    As CONCACAF qualifying champion, the U.S. will hope for, but probably won't gain one of the eight seeds in the 32-nation Cup field. A seed has the advantage of not having to play any of the other seeds in the first round. Otherwise, the group standings have no bearing on the World Cup draw.

    "It was a good win and good experience for a lot of players," Arena said of the decision over Panama. "I've been told that we finished first in the group, which is nice, but wasn't critical. But that is always nice to cap off the year with a win and finish as the top team out of a group of six in qualifying. That's a great accomplishment for our group. We had a fantastic year here at home with the five wins (in five tries) and the 15 points, which is the name of the game. Great year."

    The U.S. finally broke through in the 51st minute after Mapp made a throw-in to defender Chris Albright who chipped the ball into the left side of the penalty area. Martino, charging to just above the top left corner of the six-yard box, blasted Albright's pass out of the air and beat goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with his shot scraping the inside of the near post.

    "It is about time. I've had a couple of chances called back," said Twellman, who has had two goals in qualifying negated by offside calls. "In the first half, I missed one tonight that I should have scored, so it is nice to finally contribute. The first one is always the hardest. It has always been that way. Hopefully I can relax a little bit and be a better target forward for my teammates."

    Six minutes later, the U.S. capitalized on a grievous Panama error to double its lead. Central defender Danny Califf cleared a ball from the U.S. defensive half and Panama defender Felipe Baloy slid to control the ball, but instead knocked it backward. Twellman beat Penedo to the loose ball just above the box, headed the ball past the keeper and slipped it into the open net before retreating defender Luis Moreno could get there.

    In the first half, the U.S. was outshot by Panama 5-2, but had the best opportunity when Penedo saved Clint Dempsey's close-range attempt in the 14th minute. That was the only other American shot on frame beside the two goals.

    Santino Quaranta, a forward in the 4-3-3 formation, dropped in the first of several dangerous services from the right flank to the penalty spot, but Dempsey's first touch got away from him and the ball rolled toward goal. Dempsey was able to run it down at the six-yard box, but his shot was blocked by Penedo who stood his ground to make the point-blank stop.

    While Quaranta was serving crosses from the right flank, Mapp was making an impact on the side of the field, taking on players and starting attacking runs on goal.

    U.S. keeper Tim Howard needed only three saves to earn his sixth international shutout. While he didn't make a save in the second half, he did well to come off his line to knock away two through balls in a one-minute span, clearing the first with his hands and the following with his feet.

    Howard called his performance "very satisfying" after being in net for Saturday's 3-0 loss in Costa Rica. "I think the Costa Rica game didn't go well. We didn't have a good performance. Very, very disappointed. Bruce (Arena) put a big of emphasis on this game. We had a lot of young players and we got the three points and ended up coming out on top of the group. Going into it, thinking it's a game that means nothing, and in the end we come out of it with three points, a good performance and we end up finishing on top of the group. That means a lot."

    In the 87th minute, Ching was called for a hand-ball in his box, having a ball bounce off his chest and then his left arm. Panama forward Julio Dely Valdes sent the ensuing penalty kick low and wide left after Howard guessed wrong and moved in the opposite direction.

    Through the two rounds of qualifying, the U.S. went 8-0-1 at home. Over a grinding 16 months, the Americans compiled a 12-2-4 overall record with 10 shutouts, scoring 35 goals while conceding 11.

    The U.S. is 4-0-2 all-time against Panama and 14-1-4 in Foxborough with nine matches at Gillette Stadium and 10 at its predecessor, Foxboro Stadium .

    Three Americans made their first international appearances tonight with Mapp and fellow midfielder Brian Carroll starting, and midfielder Ricardo Clark coming off the bench. Califf made his first qualifying appearance in 13 caps.


    United State 2, Panama 0

    Lineups: United States - Tim Howard (captain), Jonathan Spector, Chad Marshall, Danny Califf, Chris Albright, Brian Carroll, Kyle Martino (Ricardo Clark 68), Clint Dempsey, Santino Quaranta, Taylor Twellman (Brian Ching 74), Justin Mapp (Steve Ralston 58). Panama - Jaime Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Luis Moreno, Gabriel Gomez, Joel Solanilla, Ubaldo Guardia, Angel Lombardo (Gabriel Torres 62), Jorge Dely Valdes, James Brown (Roman Torres 62), Luis Gallardo (Anthony Basile 62), Julio Dely Valdes (captain).

    Scoring:
    United States - Martino (Albright) 51.
    United States - Twellman (unassisted) 57.

    Shots: United States 8, Panama 9. Saves: United States 3, Panama 1. Corner kicks: United States 8, Panama 1. Fouls: United States 21, Panama 13. Offside: United State 3, Panama 1.

    Referee: Gilberto Alcala (Mexico). Assistant referees: Arturo Velasquez (Mexico), Hector Delgadillo (Mexico). Attendance: 9,192 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Weather: Windy, 52 degrees.

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