U.S. soccer tops El Salvador by two

Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2003

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) The return of Brian McBride and other key players helped the United States rebound from last month's failure in France and disappoint flag-waving El Salvador fans.

McBride had a goal and an assist Saturday when the United States beat El Salvador 2-0 in an opening game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The United States scored just one goal in going 0-2-1 in the Confederations Cup in June. McBride missed that tournament because his wife was due to give birth, and captain Claudio Reyna was recovering from knee surgery.

''You can tell it's different with Brian back and Claudio back,'' forward Landon Donovan said. ''They make things jell.''

Kasey Keller also missed the Confederations Cup because he is the starting goalkeeper on his English Premier League club. He was rarely tested Saturday in posting his second shutout in a week. The other came in an exhibition last Sunday, a 2-0 victory over Paraguay at Columbus, Ohio.

McBride, who entered that game in the 90th minute, was the MVP when the United States won last year's Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. Now he is part of a team trying to improve its reputation.

''Pressure is what you perceive it to be,'' U.S. coach Bruce Arena said of the importance of a good showing after the Confederations Cup. ''Certainly, we want to win the Gold Cup.''

Most of the 33,652 fans seemed to be rooting for El Salvador.

''Whatever,'' Donovan said. ''You just pretend they're rooting for us.''

The United States would advance to the quarterfinals of the 12-team Gold Cup with a win or tie Monday night against Martinique.

In Saturday's opener, Canada upset Costa Rica 1-0 in a group D opener.

Each of the four groups has three teams that play two games each in the opening round.

The United States is in Group C.

''It was a very frustrating day for us.'' said Steve Sampson, the former U.S. coach who now leads Costa Rica. ''We created enough chances to win the game, but when you lack precision around the net you give the opponent a chance to win.

"That's exactly what happened today,''

Paul Stalteri scored in the 59th minute for Canada, ranked 78th in the world by FIFA and ninth in CONCACAF. Canada faces Cuba on Monday.

For the United States, Eddie Lewis scored in the 28th minute and McBride connected in the 76th.

''We played a tough and well-trained opponent,'' El Salvador coach Juan Paredes said. ''It's a good experience for our young, rebuilding squad.''

His team rarely had a good chance against Keller, who had four shutouts in five games in last year's Gold Cup in which the United States beat El Salvador 4-0 in the quarterfinals and Costa Rica 2-0 in the finals.

On Saturday, Reyna made his first start since last summer's World Cup, where the United States reached the quarterfinals. He played the first 60 minutes at midfield before being replaced by Clint Mathis.

Reyna, who had major knee surgery last Nov. 18, returned to action last Sunday when he played the last 30 minutes against Paraguay.

''It was great. Just to lead the team out again as captain was a wonderful feeling,'' he said. ''I was concerned a bit if things would come back to me natural, but everything felt pretty good. I didn't think about my knee the whole day.''

Lewis made it 1-0 when he beat goalkeeper Juan Jose Gomez from 16 yards after taking a pass from McBride. It was Lewis' second goal in the team's 12 games this year.

McBride got his first goal when he headed in a crossing pass from the right side from Steve Ralston. Just five minutes earlier, Ralston replaced Earnie Stewart at midfield.

The top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals next Saturday in Foxboro, where two games will be played, and Miami and Mexico City, where one game each will take place with the winners moving to the semifinals July 23 in Miami and July 24 in Mexico City.

The third-place game is scheduled for Miami on July 26 with the championship match set for Mexico City on July 27.

Notes:The United States is 15-0-0 in opening round action in Gold Cup history. ... The team improved to 7-3-2 this year. ... McBride's goal moved him into a tie for third place with Bruce Murray on the U.S. career list with 21. Eric Wynalda has 34 goals and Joe-Max Moore 31. ... Forward DaMarcus Beasley missed the game with a sprained right ankle, sustained in practice Wednesday. He said he may play Monday but is sure he'll be ready if the United States plays Saturday. ... The United States is 8-1-3 in Foxboro.

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