Club America Wins Giants Cup

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Giants Cup came to a predictable ending Sunday--with a thud rather than a roar--when Club America of Mexico defeated D.C. United of the United States, 2-0, in front of 3,127 at the Coliseum.

Dogged throughout by indifferent play and paltry attendance, the Giants Cup served no purpose other than to qualify two teams for another CONCACAF event, the Clubs Cup early in 2003.

And if that's not confusing enough, the eight-team Clubs Cup, in turn, will produce the two teams from the North and Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region that will go to the FIFA World Club Championship in 2003.

If that world championship is held, that is. This year's version was canceled, costing the Galaxy a trip to Spain.

D.C. United played Club America on even terms for the first 45 minutes, but the Mexico City team, without a title of any sort since 1988, stamped its authority on the game in the second half and ended up a deserving winner.

"Obviously, we're not satisfied, we're disappointed with the loss, but we lost to a very good team," said Thomas Rongen, D.C.'s coach.

"I think we worked very hard, [but] we didn't create much today. We were a step short in all areas. Going into the second half, I knew it would be a battle of wills and fitness more than anything else."

Club America took the lead in the 52nd minute when Jose Antonio Castro, receiving the ball from Colombian midfielder Frankie Oviedo, sent a square pass inside to Jose de Jesus Mendoza, who fired a low shot just inside goalkeeper Mark Simpson's left post.

Club America doubled its lead in the 70th minute when Oviedo sent the ball to Octavio Valdez on the left and the midfielder cracked a rising shot that beat Simpson at the near post.

Calling Club America a "formidable team" even though it was without most of its leading players, Rongen was especially impressed by Oviedo.

"He is one of the top players in South America," Rongen said. "Here's a guy who touches the ball maybe 50 times and does something positive with it probably 45 times, which is an unbelievable ratio.

"He rarely loses the ball. He makes the right pass. He makes players around him better, and that's the sign of a very good player."

The score might have been more lopsided. D.C. United defender Stephen Armstrong cleared a header by Mendoza off the goal line in the seventh minute and Leonardo Fabio Moreno's shot hit the right post in the 89th minute.

In the match for third place, Saprissa of Costa Rica had no difficulty defeating Comunicaciones of Guatemala, 3-1, on goals by Victor Cordero, Jeaustin Campos and Kervin Lacey.

Former Galaxy midfielder Martin Machon scored the Guatemalan team's lone goal with 10 minutes to play.

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