U.S. explodes in second half to defeat Barbados
Updated: Thursday November 16, 2000 8:05 AM
WATERFORD, Barbados (AP) -- Everything was going wrong for the United States.
World Cup elimination was 27 minutes away, and the opponent in the yellow uniforms played more like mighty Brazil than lowly Barbados.
Enter Joe-Max Moore -- and just in time -- creating an easy goal for Clint Mathis in the 63rd minute that started the belated American rout.
Earnie Stewart, Cobi Jones and Ante Razov added goals, and the Americans beat Barbados 4-0 Wednesday to advance to next year's regional finals of World Cup qualifying.
"We had to win," Mathis said. "I think the guys did a great job with the pressure."
Now the United States advances to a final group that includes Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and either Costa Rica or Guatemala. The top three will advance to the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea.
"I know we're good enough to qualify, and we will do that," Moore boldly predicted.
It was the first time in 11 years the United States faced an elimination game in World Cup qualifying, since the Americans won at Trinidad and Tobago to qualify for their first World Cup in 40 years.
Playing in the Caribbean or Central America, on bumpy fields, with blustery winds and often-hostile crowds, is far different from stadiums in the United States. Barbados National Stadium didn't even have a scoreboard.
A rainbow appeared 10 minutes before game time on a humid, overcast afternoon that had intermittent light rain. Fans were singing to calypso music, hoping the Bajan Rockets, ranked just 102nd in the world, could upset the United States, ranked 18th.
And after a first half that saw Mathis hit a post in the 36th minute and get stopped by goalkeeper Horace Stoute on a point-blank shot in the 39th, the Americans had grim, tight faces when they walked off at halftime.
"Today seemed harder," said U.S. goalkeeper Tony Meola, playing a World Cup qualifier for the first time since that 1989 game at Trinidad. "For a while, it seemed like we couldn't get a goal."
Guatemala was at home against Costa Rica in a game played simultaneously, If the United States failed to win and Guatemala won, the Americans would be eliminated.
Because Guatemala won 2-1, the United States came uncomfortably close to elimination.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Meola said.
Both games were scoreless at halftime. The crowd of about 4,000 kept getting louder.
Five minutes into the second half, Barbados nearly went ahead. Llewellyn Riley took a hard shot and Meola just managed to deflect it. The rebound hit the knee of defender Carlos Llamosa, ricocheted off the crossbar and only then bounced away.
"Maybe the play of the game is Meola's save," Arena said.
In August, the United States routed Barbados 7-0 at Foxboro, Mass. But the Americans had a two-man advantage in the final 49 minutes of that game. This was a far more confident Barbados team, playing at home where it had already beaten Costa Rica.
"I always said we match up with their players very well, especially at home," Barbados midfielder Augustus Hurdle said.
Chris Klein appeared to put the Americans in front in the 58th minute when he put in a rebound of a Moore shot, but referee Noel Bynoe of Trinidad and Tobago called Moore offside. That was just about the time the U.S. bench learned Guatemala has taken a 1-0 lead.
"It could be one of those days," Arena said to himself.
Moore, who scored twice in the win at Foxboro, created the goal when he picked up a pass in the corner of the field a few minutes later, ran down the end line, eluded Wayne Sobers and passed the ball back to Mathis, who was just about to be taken out of the game in favor of Razov.
Mathis had a virtually open net and scored from about six yards out.
"He did all the work," Mathis said.
Ten minutes later, Stewart seemed to surprise the defense, taking an angled 17-yard shot that went into the far upper corner of the net.
"Once we got the first goal, it opened up." Moore said.
Jones, who came in as a substitute early in the second half, scored off a pass from Mathis in the 77th minute. Razov added the last goal in the final minute.
"We thought we could get a goal early," Barbados coach Horace "Tobacco" Beckles said. "It really did just come down to fitness. We had players who weren't able to play the full game."
The United States, which has shut out five straight opponents for the first time, won Group E of the North and Central American and Caribbean finals with a 3-1-2 record and 11 points. Costa Rica and Guatemala were both a point back at 3-2-1 and were even on all tiebreakers, meaning they must meet in a one-game playoff to determine who advances.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to Barbados," Mathis said. "We were able to fight back and keep our composure and get some goals."
First half -- No goals.
Second half -- 1, United States, Clint Mathis (Joe-Max Moore), 63rd minute. 2, Earnie Stewart, 73rd. 3, United States, Cobi Jones, 77th. 4, United States, Ante Razov, 90th.
Yellow Cards -- Sobers, Bar, 48th; Stewart, US, 52nd; Llamosa, US, 88th. Red Cards-None.
Referee -- Noel Bynoe, Trinidad and Tobago. Linesmen-Michael Ragoonath, Trinidad and Tobago; Peter Kelly, Trinidad and Tobago.
Attendance: 4,000 (est.)
United States -- Tony Meola; Jeff Agoos, Carlos Llamosa, Gregg Berhalter; Eddie Lewis (Cobi Jones 61st), Chris Armas, Chris Klein, Tab Ramos, Earnie Stewart; Joe-Max Moore (Ante Razov 81st), Clint Mathis (Richie Williams 78th).
Barbados -- Horace Stoute; Michael Gilkes, Wayne Sobers, Matthew Joseph; John Parris; Augustus Hurdle (Romell Burgess 75th), John Hawkesworth, Ryan Lucas (Kenroy Skinner 79th), Gregory Goodridge; Llewellyn Riley. Paul Bovell (Michael Forde 57th).