US Soccer Captain Reyna Suspended
NEW YORK (AP) _ U.S. soccer captain Claudio Reyna was suspended for two World Cup qualifiers on Thursday by FIFA and coach Bruce Arena was suspended for three games for arguing following the July 23 game at Costa Rica.
The suspensions mean the Americans will be missing three players for their Oct. 11 qualifier against Costa Rica at Columbus, Ohio. Midfielder Earnie Stewart and Eddie Lewis will be serving one-game suspensions for their actions in the Sept. 3 win over Guatemala.
``It’s been like that all along, so probably it’s par for the course,″ Arena said in Tampa, Fla., where he watched the start of Major League Soccer’s playoffs. ``You make adjustments. The good part is over the last year we’ve still have managed to get enough guys experience at that level where we can have confidence when they get on the field they can get the job done.″
Reyna, the team’s playmaking midfielder, will also miss the final game of the regional semifinals, on Nov. 15 at Barbados. The United States needs at least one win in the final two games to qualify for next year’s regional finals.
Costa Rica won 2-1 the July 23 game in San Jose on Hernan Medford’s penalty kick in the final minute, awarded by Jamaican referee Peter Prendergast, who ruled defender Gregg Berhalter handled the ball in the penalty area. The Americans were convinced the ball went off Berhalter’s shoulder.
After the game, Reyna and Arena vehemently argued with Prendergast.
``The game in Costa Rica was an emotional defeat for us, and our reactions to that loss were equally emotional,″ Arena said. ``We acknowledge and understand FIFA’s decision in this process, and we need to put it behind us and move forward in our preparation for these upcoming games.″
With the suspension of Reyna, Tab Ramos probably will be called on to run the U.S. offense.
``Everyone that has watched me throughout my career, knows how uncharacteristic my actions were after the loss in Costa Rica, and I am sorry for losing my composure,″ Reyna said in a statement released by th U.S. Soccer Federation.
The USSF is investigating whether it can appeal Arena’s suspension, issued by the disciplinary committee of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. Reyna’s suspension is final.
Lewis must sit out the Oct. 11 game because he was ejected from the Guatemala qualifier for throwing an elbow. Stewart received his second yellow card of qualifying in that game, drawing an automatic one-game suspension.
The United States (2-1-1) is second with seven points in Group E of the semifinals of soccer’s North and Central American and Caribbean region, two points behind Costa Rica (3-1) and three points ahead of Guatemala (1-2-1). Barbados (1-3) is last with three points.
Only the top two teams advance to next year’s regional finals, which will produce three qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.