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U.S. Powers Their Way to Major Road Victory in World Cup Qualifying in Honduras, 2-1
Mathis Hits 87th Minute Winner After Teams Trade Long-Range Goals; First-Place USA Returns to Action in K.C. on April 25 Against Costa Rica
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (Wednesday, March 28, 2001) - The U.S. Men's National Team showed off a confident and powerful display of soccer tonight in defeating Honduras 2-1 at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and maintained their firm grip on first place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying after two matches.
Behind goals from U.S. midfielders Earnie Stewart and Clint Mathis, the U.S. extended their first-place lead in the final round qualifying group to two points over second place Costa Rica with a perfect six points from two matches.
The winner for the U.S. came courtesy of a brilliant 22-yard free kick from Mathis, who sent his 87th minute winner over the Honduras wall and into the lower left corner of the goal past the diving Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares. The impressive strike was the catalyst in leading the U.S. to their first World Cup qualifying victory in Central America since Sept. 17, 1989, a span of more than 11 years and eight total games (going all the way back to a 1-0 victory over El Salvador in Tegucigalpa, Honduras).
Celebrating his 32nd birthday and wearing the captain's armband, Stewart put the U.S. on top 1-0 in the 33rd minute on a long-range shot which deflected off the back of Jose Clavasquin from 35 yards out that looped into the upper left corner of the goal past Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
Honduras tied the match on a long-range shot of their own, this one a 32-yard bullet from second-half substitute Julio Cesar de Leon that sailed across the face of the goal and rang into the upper right corner past a diving Brad Friedel in the 59th minute. The goal ended the USA's 509-minute World Cup qualifying shutout streak, well short of the team's overall record of 737 minutes.
Decimated with injuries since the team's impressive 2-0 victory over Mexico in their opening qualifier on Feb. 28, the U.S. was without six key players in Honduras. Included in that group of missing players were defender Eddie Pope (toe); midfielders Ben Olsen (ankle) and Claudio Reyna (groin); and forwards Landon Donovan (ribs), Brian McBride (knee) and Joe-Max Moore (calf).
With the injury to Pope and Tony Sanneh moving into the midfield, 22-year-old defender Steve Cherundolo made just his second appearance for the U.S., playing well as a right back and helping to hold Honduras to just the single goal. Brad Friedel controlled the defensive backfield for the U.S. in shutting down a Honduran offense which had scored a CONCACAF high 41 goals in 13 World Cup qualifying matches heading into the game.
The only negative for the U.S. on the evening came in the 90th minute when second-half sub Cobi Jones received a red card. Jones will now have to sit out the USA's next qualifying match when they take the field again on April 25 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City against Costa Rica, the team's third match in their current 10-game final round qualifying schedule.
The match in Kansas City has sold more than 20,000 tickets and kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and Telemundo. Tonight's match against Honduras will be rebroadcast this Saturday (March 31) at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT on Telemundo.
2001 U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's National Team vs. Honduras|
|Competition:||CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying - Final Round|
|Venue:||Estadio Olimpico (San Pedro Sula, Honduras)|
|Date:||March 28, 2001 - Kickoff 7:30 p.m. CT|
|Weather:||80 degrees (Warm, Humid)|
USA Earnie Stewart (Clint Mathis), 33.
HON 22-Noel Valladares, 4-Samuel Caballero, 3-Jose Reynaldo Clavasquin (10-Julio Cesar de Leon, 46), 24-Ninrod Medina, 2-Ivan Guerrero; 8-Jose Luis Pineda (12-Maynor Suazo, 79), 16-Christian Santamaria (18-Jairo Martinez, 46), 20-Amado Guevara; 5-Milton Reyes, 9-Carlos Pavon (Capt.), 11-Milton Nunez.
Source: US Soccer