SOCCER / GOLD CUP : Kooiman's Overtime Goal Puts U.S. in Finals

From Associated Press

Defender Cle Kooiman scored in the 13th minute of overtime Wednesday night, giving the United States a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica and a spot in the finals of the Gold Cup soccer tournament.

Kooiman, set up seven yards in front of the goal, took Roy Wegerle's cross in the air and sent a right-footed shot over the head of goalkeeper Eric Lonnis.

The United States, the defending champion, will meet the winner of today's semifinal between Mexico and Jamaica at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City on Sunday.

Kooiman's goal, before a Cotton Bowl crowd of 14,826, was his first this year in eight games with the U.S. national team.

For the second consecutive game, a defender scored the winning U.S. goal. Alexi Lalas' 29th-minute header gave the Americans a 1-0 victory over Honduras in the third round.

"Playing defense, I'm not often given the opportunity to go up front and put the ball in the back of the net," Kooiman said. "But Bora (Milutinovic, the coach) gives us the opportunity to go up front when we see space. I just closed my eyes, hit the ball and it went in the net."

The United States had a chance to win in regulation when Eric Wynalda went in uncontested on goal in the 73rd minute, but Lonnis covered the point-blank shot.

The United States, 1-1-2 in its previous four meetings with Costa Rica, held a 14-3 advantage in shots during regulation, then outshot Costa Rica, 5-2, in overtime. The United States improved to 4-0 in the Gold Cup.

The championship game will be played before a crowd of 120,000 at Azteca Stadium, provided Mexico reaches the final as expected.

"For us it's a party to go to Mexico next week," said Milutinovic, former coach of the Mexican national team. "It's a party because we're going to play in an atmosphere like nothing else in the world. It's going to be a great experience for us."

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