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U.S. Wins When Beasley Two-Times Grenada

His two goals lead Americans, 3-0, in the first game of a home-and-home qualifying match for 2006 World Cup.

June 14, 2004|From Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The United States opened qualifying for the 2006 World Cup with a modest victory over Grenada, not a rout.

DaMarcus Beasley scored twice and Greg Vanney had a goal in second-half injury time, giving the Americans a 3-0 victory Sunday in the first game of the home-and-home, total-goals series.

"We basically choreographed this game," Coach Bruce Arena said. "The team that's the fitter team is our team. Over 90 minutes it was going to be obvious. After 35 minutes you could see they were basically done."

Grenada put forth a valiant effort in the first half. Defender Kennedy Phillip cleared Carlos Bocanegra's header off the goal line in the 39th minute. Four minutes later, midfielder Ricky Charles cleared shots by Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride.

Although they used an attack-oriented lineup that repeatedly came forward, the Americans didn't break through until the 45th minute, when Beasley headed a lofting cross from Reyna over goalkeeper Kellon Baptiste from about four yards.

"We were getting crosses in the box, and we weren't able to get enough guys to the back post," said Beasley, who got his first goal in a World Cup qualifier. "We're frustrated in games like this. It takes a lot to get the first goal, but once you do the others will come."

Kasey Keller got his 38th victory, surpassing Tony Meola for the lead among U.S. goalkeepers, blanking a tiny nation ranked 138th in the world and with a population estimated at about 100,000. It was the U.S. team's fourth consecutive shutout.

The No. 9-ranked U.S., a quarterfinalist at the 2002 World Cup, outshot Grenada, 34-6, and piled up a 17-1 advantage on corner kicks.

But Grenada packed in its defenders and frequently frustrated the Americans, who go to Grenada next Sunday for the second leg.

"We are a small nation, considered as minnows. But we can compete with any top-ranked team in the world, on any level, any time," said Baptiste, who had 11 saves.

After the game, Grenada's players turned toward their fans in the crowd of 9,137 and clapped in appreciation, and fans waved their flags in return.

Coach Ali Debellotte knows that overturning the 3-0 aggregate will be a long shot, even with the support of the home crowd at 15,000-seat Cricket National Stadium. The Americans have not lost a World Cup qualifier by three goals or more since Mexico routed them, 5-1, in 1980.

"That will be a difficult task, but we are hoping that at least we could win," Debellotte said. "But if we get four, we'll accept it."

Beasley made it 2-0 in the 71st minute after streaking down the field with Landon Donovan, taking a pass and beating Baptiste on one touch from about 15 yards. It was his first two-goal international game.

"There was nobody around me. I didn't know whether or not to hit it the first time or to take a touch," Beasley said. "The keeper was leaning to the near post, so I hit it far post and it went in."

Vanney scored his first international goal off a pass from Eddie Lewis, who came into the game in the 73rd minute for Chris Armas. Vanney took the ball just outside the penalty area and sent a shot that weaved through three defenders and off the fingertips of a diving Baptiste.

"The ball had eyes and found its way through a bunch of people and inside the net," Vanney said. "It was kind of strange for today, in a game where it seemed like every single shot hit somebody, this one kind of found its way through."

Grenada's offense came on counterattacks. Jason Roberts, who plays for Wigan Athletic in the English first division, challenged American defenders with his size, speed and physical play.

The home-and-home encounter is the first for the Americans since 1988, when they beat Jamaica, 5-1, and went on the next year to qualify for their first World Cup since 1950.

The Americans had a first-round bye this year; Grenada beat Guyana, 8-1.

The winner of the U.S.-Grenada series advances to a semifinal group in the North and Central American and Caribbean region that probably will include El Salvador, Jamaica and Panama. The top two teams move on to next year's regional finals.

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