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U.S. takes Brazil to overtime

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2003

MIAMI The United States was three or four minutes from beating Brazil for only the second time.

But then the Brazilians eliminated the defending champions from the CONCACAF Gold Cup, tying the game in the 89th minute and beating the Americans 2-1 Wednesday night on Diego's penalty kick in the 10th minute of overtime.

''You can't give up a goal with two minutes to go,'' U.S. forward Landon Donovan said. ''You just can't do that.''

The United States, which has beaten Brazil just once in 12 games, went ahead in the 62nd minute on Carlos Bocanegra's header off Claudio Reyna's free kick.

But Brazil, which sent its under-23 team to this tournament instead of its top players, tied the score in the 89th minute after second-half substitute Ewerthon dribbled into the penalty area.

His shot was saved by goalkeeper Kasey Keller, but Kaka the only player on Brazil's roster with World Cup experience tapped in the rebound and forced overtime.

''I made the save, and it bounced right to him,'' said Keller, who insisted the play was offsides. Replays appeared to back him up.

''It's a shame, and I think we pretty much knew at that point we were done,'' Keller said.

Brazil, which plays Mexico or Costa Rica in Sunday's final, was awarded the penalty kick by Guatemalan referee Carlos Batres when Cory Gibbs used a hand to deflect away what would have been a certain goal by Diego, who had open net to shoot at after Keller came off his line.

With a pro-Brazil crowd of 35,211 cheering, Diego sent the shot into the corner of the net, with Keller having no chance to stop it. He had been 18-0-4 over the last five years in U.S. home games.

''It was the only chance I had to prevent it,'' Gibbs said. ''It was unfortunate that the referee caught it. It was going in, so I had to do something.''

The Americans clearly tired late, playing in 84-degree heat with the 80 percent humidity.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena used his first substitution in the 30th minute, when Clint Mathis came in for Brian McBride, who left with a cut over his left eye. Arena used his other two replacements late in the second half, and several American players were cramping in the final minutes.

''We debated whether to use the last change, because we thought that if we went into overtime, we'd have a problem,'' Arena said. ''The decision was made because it was a 1-0 game, to give us some fresh legs and have a chance to finish the game.''

Kaka's goal was the first allowed by the Americans in 600 minutes since Brazil's Adriano scored in a 1-0 win on June 21 at the Confederations Cup. It also stopped an 800-minute shutout streak for Keller in the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

''We were playing with three attackers and playing for the tie,'' Kaka said. ''But fundamentally, the United States was determined to win.''

The United States next plays in Saturday's third-place game in Miami, probably the last time most top American players will be together before the start of World Cup qualifying in January.

Because Brazil is an invited guest to the tournament, the winner of Thursday's semifinal in Mexico City earns CONCACAF's berth in the 2005 Confederations Cup in Germany.

Keller had a great first half, making point-blank save on an 8-yard shot by Maicon, who got past the defense after a quick give-and-go with Diego.

Less than a minute later, Kaka found an opening from about 20 yards out but his shot struck the outside of the right post. Baptista had a 25-yard shot in the 33rd minute that sent Keller sprawling toward the right post to save.

The Americans had some early chances, the best in the 11th minute when Eddie Lewis collected a pass on the wing and sent a low shot that skidded just past the far post.

''It's disappointing to lose it so late,'' Bocanegra said. ''You have to give credit to Brazil. They kept coming at us.''



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