U.S. adds another tie to rack vs. Boliva

February 19, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

MIAMI -- The United States began the inaugural Joe Robbie Cup last night with an all-too-familiar result.

The U.S. team played the fourth draw in its past five games, as Cobi Jones' goal with less than 12 minutes remaining salvaged a 1-1 tie with Bolivia at Joe Robbie Stadium. It came after the United States revisited the defensive confusion that frequently has haunted its preparations for the 1994 World Cup.

The U.S. roster for the World Cup won't be finalized until June 6. Forwards Roy Wegerle, Ernie Stewart and Eric Wynalda, and midfielders John Harkes and Tab Ramos are making a living in Europe, but the U.S. team supposedly had settled down in the back. That wasn't the case last night before 15,676 wet fans.

"They [Bolivia] were getting too many breakaways," said U.S. goalie Tony Meola, who had five saves.

Desmond Armstrong, the former Howard High and University of Maryland star who went the entire game at left back, had a bird's-eye view of the confusion.

"They were double-teaming my side, bringing a fullback wide and up when they were attacking," Armstrong said. "I moved inside and we moved a midfielder into my spot, but I should've stayed out. They counter-attacked us quick a couple of times."

The United States dominated the first 20 minutes, but the Bolivians, who played their home qualifying matches at the 12,000-feet altitude of La Paz, warmed to sea level. They repeatedly broke through the U.S. defense, and in the 44th minute Alvaro Pena made the Americans pay.

In the 78th minute, Jones collected a free kick from Mike Burns on the left side, and took it to the goal. Ten yards wide and near the goal line, the former UCLA standout sent a shot that would have harmlessly passed the goal-mouth, but goalie Carlos Trucco deflected it back toward the goal, where defender Marco Sandy couldn't stop the equalizer.

"I had no one to cross to," Jones said. "I shot and hoped it went off someone. Luckily, it did."

The U.S. team still can win the Joe Robbie Cup with an impressive result tomorrow against Sweden which tied Colombia O-0 last night.

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