Sunday, July 12, 2009

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2009 Group B: USA 2-2 Haiti

ESPN Soccernet has this report on a thrilling match between USA and Haiti.

Holden's strike keeps U.S. unbeaten in group play

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- The United States had just two minutes left to avoid its first loss ever in CONCACAF Gold Cup group play. Haiti was heading for its first win over an American team by since May 1969, when it won 1-0 in San Diego. Then Stuart Holden stepped up.

The Houston Dynamo midfielder sent a 25-foot shot past goalkeeper Jean Dominique Zephirin into the upper right corner in the first minute of second-half injury time, giving the United States a 2-2 tie Saturday night in its final first-round game.

Stuart Holden emotional after the equalising goal - Image from Reuters

"We were pushing the whole second half," said Holden, who also assisted on Davy Arnaud's goal in the sixth minute. "We kept knocking on the door and the chance fell to me." The Americans, seeking their third straight title in the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, finished first in Group B and will play Jamaica or the third-place team in Group C next Saturday in Philadelphia.

The United States (2-0-1), which already had clinched advancement, improved to 23-0-2 in Gold Cup group play. The United States once again started a young lineup, with goalkeeper Luis Robles, and midfielders Sam Cronin and Colin Clark making their first international appearances. So did 32-year-old defender Jay Heaps, a member of the New England Revolution and veteran of 301 MLS games.

Six of the starting 11 made their first national team starts, with those four joined by forward Arnaud and defender Brad Evans.

"The experience of today will be something that they can draw from" the rest of the tournament, U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "You use these three games to gain experience. You use these three games to get confident. We use some of the things that happened today as reminders."

Haiti (1-1-1) finished third in the group round and also advanced. The two best of the three third-place teams move on. Haiti had taken the lead with goals in the first four minutes of the second half by Sirin Vaniel and Mones Chery.

"What an irony," Haiti coach Jairo Rios said. "The poorest country in the world against what could be considered the superpower of the world and they (the Haitians) could be able to hold themselves on the field, demonstrating the real passion for the game from the players."

Holden set up the first goal with a short pass to Arnaud, who gathered it in at the top of the penalty area, to the left of defender Frantz Bertin. Arnaud then rolled a soft shot with his left foot to the right of Zephirin, who came out of the net to try and cut down the angle.

"Goals give anybody confidence," said Arnaud, who plays for the Kansas City Wizards. "It was a good start, but more importantly, I'm part of the group now." The United States controlled play for the first 40 minutes before Haiti became more aggressive.

"Before the tournament started everybody thought that we were just going to come and make a fool out of ourselves," Rios said. Haiti nearly tied the game in injury time at the end of the first half. A crossing pass from the left side eluded Fabrice Noel just in front of Robles. But the ball continued on to Vaniel, who fired a shot that Robles managed to kick out with his knee. Vaniel got it back but shot the ball off the outside of the net.

The Haitians didn't miss their next two big chances.

In the first minute of the second half, Leonel Saint Preaux sent a crossing pass from near the right corner that soared over the outstretched right hand of Robles. Vaniel got to it before it hit the ground and headed it into the net. A poor judgment play by Robles led to the next goal. He left his net to try and get to a ball to his left. Before he reached it, the ball was passed out to Chery. Robles raced back to get in position, but Chery sent a 25-foot shot into the upper left corner as the goalkeeper was still running in that direction.

Trailing, the U.S. inserted Charlie Davies in the 73rd minute and Brian Ching in the 76th. "When you begin the tournament, the goal is to win your group and advance," Bradley said. "So the first thing that we said after the game is, `We've accomplished that goal."

Match Stats

United States

Shots on goal


Shots wide




Corner Kicks







Match Commentary

90' +3
Full Time and an incredible end to this match, it's 2-2 and Haiti must be heartbroken. Although they have drawn this match a point will be enough to see them through to a quarter final.
90' +2
Holden with a magnificent strike, goal of the tournament. You couldn't make this up if you tried and it's 2-2. Aveska kicks the ball away from Brian Ching that falls to Holden and he unleashes an unstoppable shot past a despairing dive from Zephirin.
90' +1
Free kick to USA and Haiti defending well, 3 minutes of added time.
90' S. Holden has scored a goal for United States!
Haiti clinging on, a mad scramble in the Haiti box and once again they clear. It's back to wall time for Haiti as the USA pour forward.
Free kick to USA, Zephirin punches clear and rebounds to Davies who controls with his chest, turns and shoots but it's cleared by Haiti.
84' M. Sampeur enters the game and replaces L. Saint-Preux.
Heaps with a cross and Brian Ching with a header that Zephirin gathers with ease.
Free kick to Haiti to relieve some pressure.
Ten minutes left and Haiti hanging on. USA with all the possession, Haiti reduced to long clearances.

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