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U.S. defeat determined Grenada squad 3-0 in first leg of two game series
COLUMBUS, OH. (6/13/04)- The U.S. defeated Grenada by a score of 3-0, but with better finishing could’ve been headed to Grenada for the second leg of the series with an insurmountable lead in the two-game aggregate series. Damarcus Beasley led the U.S. with two goals, his first ever goals in World Cup qualifying, and Greg Vanney scored an important goal in stoppage time of the second half, his first ever international goal. The U.S. received some bad news in the 21st minute, when starting forward Conor Casey went down with a right knee sprain that will see him out for about six weeks.

It was clear from the beginning of the match that Grenada’s goal wasn’t to win the match. Grenada, also known as the “Spice Boys” put all but one of the players they had on the field into defense as soon as the U.S. had possession in an attempt to keep the score-line as low as possible, so they would have a chance to win the series in the home leg. Their plan seemed like it would work in the first half as they kept it scoreless until stoppage time. In addition to great play in goal by Grenada’s ‘keeper Kellon Baptiste, Grenada had a goal-mouth block from Brian Phillip and two by Ricky Charles in quick succession to keep the match scoreless until DaMarcus Beasley gave the U.S. the lead in the last seconds of the first half. Landon Donovan ran down the right flank before passing the ball back to Claudio Renya, who sent a perfect cross to an unmarked Beasley at the far post. Beasley headed it past Baptiste for his sixth career international goal and gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead going into half-time.

Grenada did have a few chances in the first half led by the New England Revolution’s Shalrie Joseph, who saw a couple of free kicks go just over the bar and Jason Roberts of Wigan Athletic in England’s first division. Joseph and Roberts are two of the minority of Grenada National team players, who make their living playing soccer.

After out-shooting Grenada 18 to 3 in the first half, they kept their dominance in the second half and this time out-shot them 16 to 3. The U.S. doubled their lead in the 71st minute, when Landon Donovan made a run from near midfield towards the box before sending a through ball to DaMarcus Beasley. Beasley, who had just made a run of about 60 yards to get open, sent a left-footed shot past Baptiste and into the right corner of the net from 15 yards out.

Greg Vanney gave the U.S. a 3-0 lead going into the away leg in the last seconds of the game, when he received the ball from second half substitute Eddie Lewis on the left corner of the box. Vanney beat his defender before sending a shot past Baptiste and into the right side of the net for his first career international goal.

A couple of milestones were reached in the match by U.S. players. Kasey Keller earned the 38th win of his career to move to first on the U.S. all time win list. He passed Tony Meola, who had been called up for the match, but was replaced by Jonny Walker after Colorado Rapids coach Tim Hankinson refused to release Pablo Mastroeni for the match. U.S. coach Bruce Arena sent Meola, Josh Wolff and Kerry Zavagnin, all Kansas City players back as well, so that the Rapids would not have an unfair advantage when they played the Wizards last Saturday. Keller also extended his lead in the all time shutout list earning an easy shutout while making just one save to bring his total to 34. Earnie Stewart entered the match in stoppage time to earn his 99th career international appearance (cap). With one more cap, Stewart will join an elite group of just 7 other U.S. players. U.S. Captain Claudio Reyna earned his hundredth cap two weeks ago against Honduras.

The U.S. next travel to Grenada to face the ‘Spice Boys’ on Sunday June 20th at 4PM ET. The match, which is being called the largest sporting event ever in Grenada, can be seen live on ESPN2.
June 18, 2004 Sean Donahue


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