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Costa Rica Down U.S. 2-0 to Clinch Spot in 2002 World Cup

Costa Rica Returns to World Cup Finals for First Time Since Italia '90; U.S. Still Controls Own Destiny As Victories in Both Remaining Games Will Clinch Spot in Korea/Japan  

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Wednesday, September 5, 2001) - Two goals by forward Rolando Fonseca were enough for Costa Rica to secure a 2-0 victory over the U.S. Men's National Team and clinch a spot in the field of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in front of nearly 30,000 exuberant fans at Saprissa Stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica tonight. With the win, Costa Rica (6-1-1; 19 points) qualified for just its second World Cup ever, with the only other appearance in soccer's biggest event coming in 1990.

After a foul by U.S. defender Carlos Llamosa in the box, Fonseca converted the resulting penalty kick in the 40th minute to give Costa Rica a 1-0 lead in a half that it dominated from the outset. Llamosa earned a yellow card for the foul and U.S. captain Earnie Stewart was given a caution for dissent following the call. The U.S. began to established its own attack and string togetherpossession with the start of the second half, only to have another Fonseca strike dim their hopes in the 68th minute.

U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena called on attacking reserves Joe-Max Moore, Landon Donovan and Preki Radosavljevic all within a 15-minute span to provide a spark and try to equalize, but only Preki's free kick that barely missed the right post produced a good scoring opportunity in the second period.

The U.S. loss, combined with Mexico's 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago and Honduras' 1-0 win over Jamaica, leaves the USA in fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal with 13 points from a 4-3-1 record. Honduras sits in second place with a 4-2-2 record and 14 points, while Mexico has a 4-3-1 record but a superior goal differential of +4 compared to the USA's +2. All this aside, the USA controls its destiny and can still automatically qualify with six points, or two wins, in its final two matches.

"I hope we can get a few players back for the next set of games," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, who has seen his team play most of the final round of qualifying without the likes of injured starters Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride, Clint Mathis and Josh Wolff. "We can do what we have to do to qualify."

The U.S. will meet fifth place Jamaica (2-4-2, 8 points) in a must-win home qualifier on Sunday, Oct. 7, at Foxboro Stadium. The match, which kicks off at 2 p.m. ET, will be broadcast live on ABC. Llamosa will be unavailable for the match as he will serve a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

The U.S. finishes the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying when it travels to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, to take on last place T&T (0-7-1, 1 point) on Sunday, Nov. 11. That match will also be televised live on ABC at 2 p.m. ET.

Source US Soccer