The United States tied Costa Rica, 0-0, last night to take first place in its group in the opening round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Foxboro, Mass., despite failing to win for the first time in 19 first-round matches since 1991.
The Americans and Costa Ricans finished the round-robin 2-0-1, but the U.S. team gets the easier quarterfinal matchup for scoring six goals and allowing just one; Costa Rica scored four goals against one allowed. The Americans will play again at Gillette Stadium on Saturday against a third-place team to be determined.
In addition to the blemish on its perfect record, the U.S. team lost Frankie Hejduk for the quarterfinals when he was given a yellow card in the 87th minute for taking a dive. The Columbus Crew defender was also booked in the first match, against Cuba.
The play matched a similar one at the other end, when Christian Bolanos went down after incidental contact with Jimmy Conrad and was carded by referee Armando Archundia.
It was far different from the last matchup between the teams, a World Cup qualifier in Salt Lake City last month won 3-0 by the United States. Both teams had already qualified for the quarterfinals of the tournament, the championship of soccer's North and Central American and Caribbean region, and the U.S. team used Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley as second-half substitutes.
The Americans pressed the action in the second half and had several scoring chances, including a shot from the left of the goal by Josh Wolff in the 90th minute that was caught on a diving stop by goalkeeper Jose Francisco Porras. The U.S. team had been 5-0 against Costa Rica in Gold Cup play.
-- From News Services