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CONCACAF

U.S. Looking to Dash Grenada's Faint Hopes

June 20, 2004|From Associated Press

The United States takes a three-goal lead into today's second leg of its CONCACAF World Cup qualifying series at Grenada, a tiny Caribbean nation hoping to pull off what would be one of the greatest upsets in soccer history.

The Americans, who won the first leg, 3-0, last Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, are overwhelming favorites to win the total-goals series at St. George's, Grenada, and advance to the semifinals of the region encompassing North and Central America and the Caribbean. Those games begin in August.

The U.S. team hasn't lost a World Cup qualifier by three or more goals since a 5-1 defeat to Mexico in 1980.

Still, the Spice Boyz, as Grenada's squad is known, hope to trip up a team seeking its fifth consecutive World Cup berth.

"Last week's result was not a bad one," Grenada Coach Ali Debellote said. "However, we have all accepted the fact that we could have played better."

Grenada has a population of about 100,000, and a large percentage of the country's residents figure to be at National Stadium today. The American team spent the week practicing in New York, then traveled to Grenada on Friday.

"Grenada is a team that has defended very well," U.S. Coach Bruce Arena said after practice Saturday. "The team changed for the better when they were able to get Jason Roberts because he is a very good player."

Roberts plays in England's first division.

In last weekend's game, the U.S. team attacked from the start and outshot Grenada, 34-6, piling up a 17-1 advantage on corner kicks. Grenada must push forward if it is to overcome its three-goal disadvantage, creating the possibility of an open, offensive game today.

"Sometimes we think that we have an advantage at home, but when the crowd comes out and starts making noise, the players tend to get a little nervy and sometime it doesn't work in their favor," Debellote said. "In recent times we have had pretty good results at home, though, and we are hoping for yet another one."

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In Saturday's CONCACAF World Cup qualifying games:

Mexico 10, Dominica 0 -- Adolfo Bautista, Jared Borgetti and Daniel Osorno each scored twice to lead Mexico to a rout in a first-leg game at San Antonio.

Francisco Palencia had a goal and two assists for Mexico, which scored five goals in each half.

The game was played in the Alamodome with Dominica as the home team because the tiny Caribbean island nation does not have its own stadium.

The teams play again a week from today in Aguascalientes, Mexico, with the series winner to be determined by aggregate goals.

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Honduras 4, Netherlands Antilles 0 -- MetroStar midfielder Amado Guevara scored a goal in the ninth minute to lead the host team at San Pedro Sula to a spot in the regional semifinals. Honduras won, 6-1, on aggregate.

Also scoring for Honduras were David Suazo, Edgar Alvarez and Carlos Alberto Pavon.

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St. Kitts and Nevis 3, Barbados 2 -- Calum Willock scored two goals for the host team at Basseterre as it advanced to the regional semifinals and won, 5-2, on aggregate.

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