Jones lights it up as U.S. breezes, 4-0

2 goals, 2 assists lead romp past South Africa


June 04, 2000|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Cobi Jones, the onetime walk-on at UCLA now just a game shy of tying the American record for international appearances, put on a show as the U.S. men routed South Africa, 4-0, in yesterday's opener of the seventh annual Nike U.S. Cup.

Jones gave the Americans a 2-0, first-half lead and assisted on both second-half goals before 16,570 at RFK Stadium, the third-smallest crowd to watch a game by the U.S. team in this annual four-nation tournament, which was first played in 1992.

The game was the first between the two national teams, both tuning for the start of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup within six weeks.

"This was a good effort against a very good team," said U.S. coach Bruce Arena. "We certainly capitalized on our chances today, which is a little unique for our team."

The right-footed Jones put the Americans up 1-0 in the 36th minute with the first of two cracking, left-footed goals within seven minutes, taking a pass from midfielder Chris Armas and dribbling fast across the top of the box to the arc atop it.

"The guy marking me kept saying, 'Shoot it, shoot it,' so, OK, I shot it," Jones said, downplaying questions about whether the game might have been his best in 127 U.S.-team appearances since 1992, one shy of Marcelo Balboa's U.S. record for men.

In the 43rd minute, Jones made the score 2-0. South Africa goalkeeper Andre ArendseM-5 punched out a cross to the middle that U.S. captain Claudio Reyna headed deftly to Jones on his left, just outside the top right of the box.

After a couple of dribbles, Jones scorched in a low, rising shot that the diving Arendse was barely able to tip.

With U.S. defenders weathering South Africa's best attacking pressure as the second half opened, Reyna made it 3-0 in the 65th minute, tapping in an 8-yarder off a low cross from deep in the right side of the box from Jones.

Three minutes later, Jones, in the middle of the box, sent a pass to the outer right edge of the box that veteran midfielder Earnie Stewart, who has altered his first name's spelling after two World Cup appearances for the U.S. team, turned into a rifled, rising 16-yard goal.

Arena not only had nice words about Jones' play, but also for defender Jeff Agoos, who first played for him at Virginia, then with D.C. United of Major League Soccer. Agoos became the fifth U.S. male player to reach 100 international games yesterday.

"When the national anthem was playing, I was thinking how special this was and was just trying to take everything in," said Agoos, who played in 1991 for the Maryland Bays in Columbia.

"What's happened [to me] in the last five or six years has been incredible."

The U.S. team will play Ireland on Tuesday in Foxboro, Mass., in its second Cup game, and will close next Sunday at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., against Mexico.

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