U.S. Gets Off to a Big Start in Olympic Qualifier

Times Staff Writer

The United States made a positive start Saturday on its journey to the 2004 Olympic soccer tournament in Greece when it routed St. Kitts and Nevis, 6-0, in a CONCACAF region qualifying match played on the Caribbean island.

Ed Johnson of the Dallas Burn and Edson Buddle of the Columbus Crew each scored two goals, and the D.C. United duo of Bobby Convey and Alecko Eskandarian also scored as the Americans dominated play at rain-soaked Warner Park in the St. Kitts town of Bassaterre.

Despite the urging of a standing-room-only crowd of about 5,000, the home team was unable to cope with the more powerful U.S. squad, which ended up out-shooting the islanders, 20-5, in the first game of the two-game series.

Johnson gave the Americans the lead in the 13th minute when he beat goalkeeper Kayian Benjamin after taking a through ball from Convey.

Convey doubled the lead in the 28th minute, when he first lost the ball, then regained it and fired a 15-yard shot that went in at the near post off Benjamin's hands.

Johnson put the game out of reach six minutes into the second half when he scored off a pass from Colorado Rapid midfielder Kyle Beckerman.

The U.S., which plays host to St. Kitts and Nevis at Germantown, Md., on Wednesday, added three goals in the last 12 minutes.

Buddle and Eskandarian set off on a two-on-one break in the 79th minute, with Buddle crashing the ball into the roof of the net to cap the play.

Buddle scored three minutes later, this time off a pass from Rapid defender Nat Borchers.

Eskandarian completed the rout in the 87th minute when he intercepted an errant back pass and chipped the ball over Benjamin from 20 yards.


Jones reported from Los Angeles.

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