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Young Yanks too good for Guatemala
by Ridge Mahoney, November 20th, 2008 6:45AM

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As he had promised, USA coach Bob Bradley called up mostly younger players for the final match of the Concacaf World Cup semifinal round, and they responded with a polished performance that blanked Guatemala, 2-0, on a brisk night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

Kenny Cooper and Freddy Adu scored 15 minutes apart in the second half. Six players, including Cooper, started a USA qualifier for the first time as the Americans outshot Guatemala, 16-6, and finished the semifinal round with five wins and one loss atop Group 1.

Second place in the group went to Trinidad & Tobago, which beat Cuba, 2-0, to join Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador as the six Concacaf teams that will contest the Hexagonal next year, starting Feb 11. The U.S. will also have games on March 28, April 1, June 3, June 6, August 19, Sept. 5, Sept. 9, Oct. 10 and Oct. 14. The draw for that competition will be held Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Jozy Altidore, playing up top with Cooper, tormented the Guatemalans with his pace and power. He set up Cooper for the first goal with an incisive diagonal ball from near the left touchline that Cooper, crashing at the far post, met first-time to drive through keeper Ricardo Jerez's legs in the 54th minute.

The dribbling of Adu and Altidore drew numerous fouls, one of which produced the second U.S. goal in the 69th minute. Defender Yony Flores yanked Altidore off the ball a few yards outside the penalty area; after Flores was cautioned, Adu stepped up and curled a left-footed shot over the wall and just under the crossbar for his first goal at the full international level.

Altidore had nearly scored in the seventh minute when he ran onto a chip from Ricardo Clark and got off a shot that Jerez pushed away. The Americans pressed from the first minute, and aside from a couple of flubbed crosses by left back Jonathan Bornstein, moved the ball smartly at a pace the Guatemalans couldn't match.

Jerez denied the U.S. again in the 18th minute with a spectacular double save. He punched away a long shot from Adu and scrambled to smother a follow-up effort by Sacha Kljestan, whose energy and clean touches kept the U.S. attack clicking. Outside backs Bornstein and John Thorrington threatened on the flanks, and a clear penalty was denied by referee Benito Archundia when a sliding Flores tripped Thorrington as he touched the ball past the Guatemalan defender.

Before the half ended, another well-flighted ball from Clark was headed off the crossbar by Cooper with the flag up for offside.

In between the Cooper and Adu goals, Pablo Mastroeni - wearing the captain's armband on his home MLS field - fired a long-range shot that Jerez turned aside. A harsh foul later earned him a caution that will keep him out of the Hexagonal opener Feb. 11. Clark was also cautioned in the 55th minute but will not have to serve a suspension.

Bradley brought on three subs - Brian Ching, Conor Casey and Davy Arnaud - in the final 14 minutes and Guatemala raised its game enough to get a good chance in the 85th minute. Former Galaxy midfielder Guillermo "Pando" Ramirez drilled a hard shot from 12 yards that Brad Guzan got his hands up to parry.

GAME SUMMARY:
Nov. 19 in Commerce City, Colo.
USA 2 Guatemala 0. Goals: Cooper 54, Adu 69.
USA -- Guzan, Thorrington, Goodson, Parkhurst, Bornstein, Adu (Arnaud, 83), Mastroeni, Clark, Kljestan, Cooper (Casey, 76), Altidore (Ching, 76).
Guatemala -- Jerez, Castrillo, Noriega, Flores, Albizuris, Acevedo (Lopez, 74), Ramirez, Figueroa (Pappa, 57), Castillo, Marquez, Avila.
Yellow Cards: USA -- Clark 55, Mastroeni 78; Guatemala Flores 68.
Referee: Benito Archundia (Mexico).
Att.: 9,303.

 

 



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