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WORLD CUP QUALIFYING

U.S. Slips Past Grenada, 3-2

June 21, 2004|From Associated Press

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada — The United States did exactly what it intended and moved on in World Cup qualifying.

Unable to dent overmatched Grenada for an early goal in their earlier meeting, the Americans got a quick goal from Landon Donovan, then a tiebreaker from Josh Wolff in a 3-2 victory Sunday. The win, on a soggy converted cricket field, lifted the United States into the CONCACAF regional semifinals for the 2006 World Cup.

Last week, the Americans, ranked ninth in the world, won 3-0, boosted by two goals from DaMarcus Beasley, who also scored Sunday.

"The first goal is always important," Donovan said. "You don't want to give them a chance, and scoring early makes them open up a lot."

The United States next will play in a four-team qualifying group beginning in August, and the top two teams will advance to a final six-team group. The Americans open the round Aug. 18 at Jamaica. The other nations in the semifinal group are Panama and El Salvador.

Other CONCACAF semifinalists are Mexico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago in Group C, and Costa Rica, Canada, Guatemala and Honduras in Group B.

Three nations will qualify for the 2006 tournament in Germany, and a fourth team will face an Asian team for another berth in the 32-team World Cup field.

Playing on a waterlogged field on this tiny Caribbean island, the Americans immediately pressed the attack. Heavy rain soaked the field in the first half and left players slipping and sliding through muddy patches.

Grenada, ranked 138th, tied it on a penalty kick six minutes after Donovan scored. Jason Roberts beat Kasey Keller for the goal.

But Wolff gave the Americans the lead for good when he scored off a scramble following a corner kick in the 23rd minute.

*

In other CONCACAF World Cup qualifying games Sunday:

Jamaica 3, Haiti 0 -- Marlon King scored all three goals in the first half as Jamaica easily advanced to the semifinal round at Kingston, Jamaica.

King first headed Ricardo Gardener's corner kick past goalkeeper Gabard Fenelon in the fifth minute, and then headed home a cross from Damani Ralph in the 15th.

The striker got his third in the 32nd minute, sliding to tap in a cross from Ralph.

Panama 3, St. Lucia 0 -- Panama advanced to the semifinal round after winning 7-0 on aggregate at Vieux Fort, St. Lucia.

Luis Tejada scored the first goal in the 14th minute as Panama led 1-0 at halftime. Dely Valdes got the second in the 88th, and Alberto Blanco scored the final goal in the 90th.

El Salvador 2, Bermuda 2 -- El Salvador held Bermuda to a 2-2 draw at Hamilton, Bermuda, which was enough to send the Central Americans into the semifinal round with a 4-3 aggregate win.

Alfredo Pacheco scored both goals for El Salvador.

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