YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

U.S. Is Fit Enough for Cup Qualification Finals

Men's soccer: A 4-0 victory doesn't come easily against a determined Barbados team that wears out.


The U.S. men's national soccer team secured its place in the final round of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup with a solid, albeit unimpressive, 4-0 victory over Barbados Wednesday.

Second-half goals by Clint Mathis, Earnie Stewart, Cobi Jones and Ante Razov were more than sufficient to overcome a stubborn but ultimately unfit opponent in front of an estimated 4,000 at Waterford, Barbados.

The victory moves the U.S. into next year's six-nation qualification finals, where it will play home-and-home series against Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and either Costa Rica or Guatemala.

The draw to decide the 2001 schedule will be held Sunday. The top three finishers from among the six countries will qualify for the World Cup, which will be hosted by Japan and South Korea.

Costa Rica almost secured its place in the last six Wednesday, but two goals by Carlos Ruiz, the second a dramatic 87th-minute strike, kept alive Guatemala's chances of a first World Cup appearance as it won, 2-1, in Mazatenango, Guatemala.

That left the two nations tied in points, goals for and goals against and set up a one-game playoff. Guatemala has asked that it be played in Los Angeles or Honduras; Costa Rica would prefer Miami or Mexico.

Meanwhile, in Barbados, it appeared that the U.S. lacked the ideas and creativity necessary to break down its opponent.

For more than an hour, the U.S. struggled to overcome the poor field conditions, the wet and windy weather and the determined play of the home team.

"For a while, it seemed like we couldn't get a goal," said U.S. goalkeeper Tony Meola, who added a fifth World Cup qualifying shutout to the four he achieved in 1989.

Finally, with Barbados tiring, the U.S. broke through.

Joe-Max Moore created the breakthrough goal, dribbling to the end line and beating defender Wayne Sobers before cutting the ball back to an unmarked Mathis in the 63rd minute.

Mathis side-footed the ball into the net to make it 1-0.

Stewart doubled the U.S. lead 10 minutes later with a superb 18-yard shot into the upper-left corner of the net. The U.S. team finished the year 9-2-6.

Los Angeles Times Articles