U.S. forward Taylor Twellman has been fighting a cold for the past few weeks, so getting kicked in the head shortly after he entered tonight's men's soccer game against Jamaica was not the best thing for his health.
But getting kicked in the head turned out to be a great thing for the United States. Even better, Twellman stayed in the game and ended up scoring the game-winning goal in the 74th minute, giving the U.S. team a much-needed 2-1 victory.
In the 41st minute, Jamaican Claude Davis was given a red card for the high kick, which smacked Twellman in the back of the head, and his team was forced to play with 10 players.
"It was kind of brutal, but it put us in a good spot," said Twellman, who scored a team-high 16 goals for the University of Maryland in the fall. "Jamaica was forced to play down a man, and that opened things up for us. If it takes me being kicked in the head for us to be a better team, then I'm happy to be kicked in the head."
The United States needed a victory tonight to keep its chances of advancing to the medal round alive. Only the top two teams from Pool B will advance, and the U.S. team (2-1) is fighting with Honduras (3-0) and Jamaica (2-1) for that spot. Cuba (1-3) and Uruguay (0-3), the United States' final opponent, have been eliminated from contention.
Sasha Victorine scored the United States' first goal in the 36th minute, but Jamaica tied the game in the second half on a goal by Ricardo Fuller. Goalkeeper Adin Brown made seven saves. . . .
The four players and two coaches ejected from Wednesday's Guatemala-Canada soccer match all received suspensions Thursday. Guatemala Coach Walter Clavieri and three players were suspended for the remainder of the games. Another Guatemalan player and Canada Coach Bruce Twamley each got one-game suspensions.
The winner of Pool A is not the team that most -- if any -- would have predicted at the start of the tournament. Canada, which has never finished higher than fourth place at the Pan Am Games, finished pool play with a 4-0 record, after today's 8-1 victory over Cuba.
Canada's victory proved to be a blessing for the United States, which beat Brazil, 3-2. The U.S. team (3-1) finished second in Pool A and Cuba (2-2) finished third, which means that the United States and Cuba will not have to face each other until the gold medal game. Only the two finalists will qualify for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
The quarterfinals begin on Saturday. Canada will face Guatemala; the U.S. plays Panama; Cuba plays the Dominican Republic; and Mexico faces Nicaragua.
U.S. diver Mark Ruiz rebounded from Wednesday's disappointing fifth-place finish in the 10-meter platform by capturing the gold medal in the 3-meter springboard. Ruiz jumped from third place into first on his final dive, edging Mexico's Fernando Platas, 675.21 points to 674.25. . . .
The U.S. women's softball team, which features nine players from the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, won its Pan Am opener against Colombia, 9-0. Danielle Henderson pitched a perfect game against the Colombians, who were making their Pan Am women's softball debut. . . .
The U.S. men's water polo team will play for the gold medal on Friday. The men face Cuba, with the winner qualifying for the Olympics. Bowie's Brad Schumacher is the overall scoring leader in the tournament with 10 goals on 18 shots. . . .
Wimbledon sensation Alexandra Stevenson won her Pan Am debut, 6-2, 6-0, over Miriam D'Agostini of Brazil.