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Holden rescues USA
by Paul Kennedy, July 12th, 2009 2:51PM
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[GOLD CUP] Haiti came within a minute of handing the USA its first loss ever in group play at the Gold Cup, but a 24-yard blast from Stuart Holden in the second minute of stoppage time earned the Americans a 2-2 draw that clinched first place in Group B.

The USA extended its unbeaten streak to 25 games in group play at the Gold Cup (23-0-2) and 56 games at home against CONCACAF opponents.

Next up for the U.S. will be a quarterfinal matchup on Saturday, in Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, against either Jamaica, Mexico or Panama, depending on Sunday's Group C results.

"When you begin the tournament, your goal is to win the group and advance," said U.S. coach Bob Bradley. "The first thing that we said after the game is that we've accomplished that goal."

Bradley will have been upset at some very sloppy defending that allowed Haiti, one of only two teams with a winning record against the USA, to score twice in two minutes at the start of the second half, after Davy Arnaud put the Americans ahead in the 6th minute.

After back-to-back victories in their opening two group games, Bradley gave six starters against Haiti made their first career start, including four who earned their first-ever cap: goalkeeper Luis Robles, defender Jay Heaps and midfielders Sam Cronin and Colin Clark.

"I think when you look at everything, it is a good experience for these players," said Bradley. "After the fact, you can look at things and understand that it will help them down the road. I think we had some stretches in the game where we were pretty solid. We had a number of guys who made plays where they kept the ball alive, got a cross in, helped regain possession, and all those things led to Stuart scoring a goal to equalize. I think there were some good things, but when you look at the consistency of the whole game, it would fit with the fact that this is a group that hadn't been there before."

Prior to trailing Haiti for 43 minutes, the U.S. had only trailed for a total of 35 minutes combined in group play in the last eight tournaments going back to 1996. Overall, the U.S. had previously only been down a goal for a total of 105 minutes across five matches in group play at the Gold Cup.

July 11 in Foxborough, Mass.
USA 2 Haiti 2. Goals: Arnaud 6, Holden 92+; Sirin 46, Chery 48.
USA -- Robles, Evans, Conrad, Parkhurst, Heaps, Quaranta (Beckerman, 63), Holden, Cronin, Clark (Ching, 76), Cooper (Davies, 63), Arnaud.
Haiti -- Zerphirin, Gilles, Bertin, Bruny, Sirin, Raymond, Marcelin, Aveska, Chery,Saint-Preux (Sampeur 84), Noel (Thermueus, 79).
Yellow cards: Arnaud 27, Parkhurst 31, Beckerman 80.
Att.: 24,137

Update: Mexico coach Javier Aguirre was suspended three matches for his actions in Thursday's wild Mexico-Panama game. In addition, the Mexican Football Federation will be fined $25,000 for the behavior of its bench personnel, who engaged in "serious irresponsible behavior" against Panamanian midfielder Ricardo Phillips and others that precipitated an unruly reaction from the partisan crowd at Houston's Reliant Stadium.


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