A screamer from Stuart Holden in the second minute of stoppage time gave a young U.S. team a dramatic 2-2 draw with Haiti last night at Gillette Stadium. The result clinched first place in Group B and they now move on to the quarterfinals of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Holden also assisted on the game's opening goal in the sixth minute by Davy Arnaud, but Haiti answered back with two goals in a three-minute span at the start of the second half. The U.S., which controlled play for large spans of the game, was finally rewarded when Holden uncorked his perfect strike into the upper right hand corner.
With the draw, the U.S. extended their 25-game unbeaten streak in group play all-time at the Gold Cup (23-0-2) and a 56-game unbeaten streak at home against CONCACAF opponents.
Next up for the U.S. will be a quarterfinal matchup on Saturday, July 18, in Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, against either Jamaica, Mexico or Panama depending on Sunday's Group C results.
"When you begin the tournament, your goal is to win the group and advance," said U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley. "The first thing that we said after the game is that we've accomplished that goal."
On his first goal for the US, Kansas City Wizards striker Arnaud said: "It was a good ball in behind the defense from Stuart Holden. He timed it well. I just tried to get my body across the defender and slip it under the keeper. It felt great to score for our National Team.
"It does a lot. Obviously goals give anybody confidence. It was a good start, but more importantly, I'm part of the group now. We won the group tonight - we needed a point. We would have liked to win tonight, but in the end, we needed a point, and it was nice to get that point late. It was good to get the experience of being out there tonight and going 90 minutes in my first international start."
US captain Jimmy Conrad said of his Wizards teammate: "I'm very excited for Davy. He took it really well, kind of opened up his body. Stuart played a great ball, just tucked underneath his shoulder. It was a good classic finish by Davy.
"It's something that I know he's capable of since I see it on a regular basis for the Wizards, and it was nice that he got to prove himself the international level, and hopefully he'll get another opportunity to prove himself again."