July 15, 2005

U.S. Draws Costa Rica 0-0, Wins Gold Cup Group

FOXBORO, Mass. — The U.S. Men’s National Team closed out Group B play on Tuesday night in the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a tough 0-0 draw against regional rival Costa Rica at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., in front of 15,211. The shutout for the U.S. came behind yet another strong performance in goal from Kasey Keller, who now has an astonishing 12 shutouts in 18 all-time Gold Cup appearances.

While the draw extended the USA’s all-time unbeaten mark across 19 opening round Gold Cup matches, it did mark the first time the team has failed to win an opening round match in the tournament’s 15-year history. The USA is now 18-0-1 all-time in first round play in the Gold Cup dating back to the inaugural event in 1991 won by the United States.

“I thought it was a good game,” said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. “I thought both teams played well. There weren’t a whole lot of chances, but the pace was very good. It is a pretty good effort, considering that both teams could have sat back and relaxed tonight. Overall we are satisfied, because our objective is to be in a game on Saturday (in the Gold Cup quarterfinals).”

With the Group B title safely tucked away, the U.S. will remain in Foxboro for their Gold Cup quarterfinal match on Saturday, July 16, at 4 p.m. ET., the U.S. will face Jamaica who lost to Mexico, 1-0 Wednesday night, placing third in Group C. The U.S. quarterfinal will be televised live on Telefutura (with English closed captioning) and can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

The match against Costa Rica started off at a hectic pace, with the U.S. displaying its usual commitment to pressing the ball and pushing the attack, and enjoying the majority of possession. The team nearly got off to a dream start in the second minute, with Pat Noonan pushing through wide on the right and playing a low cross to John O’Brien, but Noonan was whistled offside on the initial crafty backheel from Clint Dempsey.

The game maintained its quick pace for the first half-hour, with the Costa Ricans still holding the advantage in possession and chances. The U.S. seemed a bit out of sync at both ends, the backline often disconnected in its positioning while the group failed to connect on several passes. Costa Rican ‘keeper Jose Porras had an outstanding half, maintaining firm control of his area while collecting several U.S. crossing attempts.

“We’ve given up one goal in three games and that is fantastic,” said Keller, who earned his 83rd all-time cap in goal to move past Brad Friedel into second all-time for the U.S. in that category. “You are going to win a lot of games if you keep it that tight in the back. We’ve got a good foundation to build on. Jimmy Conrad has stepped in and done a great job and the veterans like Tony Sanneh and Eddie Pope have been solid as well.”

The second-half pace was a bit more settled, with the U.S. defensive effort in the final 45 minutes being much stronger than the first 45. With ussoccer.com Man of the Match Steve Cherundolo marshaling a backline of Conrad, Frankie Hejduk and Sanneh, the Costa Ricans were seemingly content to sit back in the second half and seek to counter.

“Winning the group was the key and we did that,” said Keller, who now has an amazing 41 career shutouts for the U.S., extending his U.S. record. “We need to be more decisive in front of the goal. We don’t have a big presence up top right now like (Brian) McBride or (Eddie) Johnson and we are waiting for that type of person to step up. Fingers crossed will get it in the quarterfinals.”

The shutout against Costa Rica marked the USA’s 21st shutout in 34 all-time Gold Cup matches.

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