Jones Sparks US Past South Africa

Published June 4th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Cobi Jones snapped out of a scoring slump with two first-half goals and the United States defeated South Africa 4-0 Saturday in the opening match of the seventh US Cup football tournament. 

Jones scored in the 36th and 43rd minutes of his 127th cap, one shy of Marcelo Balboa's US record. Jones, who turns 30 in two weeks, was the youngest man in global football to reach 100 caps, doing so at age 27 in 1998. 

The dread locked dynamo for the Los Angeles Galaxy has not scored in 10 Major League Soccer matches over the past two months. Before this year, he had not scored for the US team since 1996 but this year has five goals in six starts. 

The margin matched the largest rout in US Cup history, a 4-0 US triumph over Mexico in 1995. Three-time defending champion Mexico and Ireland meet Sunday in Chicago in the next match of the World Cup qualifying tune up. 

Finishing, long a US weakness remained troublesome for the hosts, with Brian McBride chipping and nodding balls over the crossbar and Jones losing control of a throw-in pass when he was alone in the penalty area. 

The US team broke through when Chris Armas chipped the ball to an onrushing Jones, who dribbled left to the top of the penalty area and blasted a shot past South African goalkeeper Andre Arendse into the upper left corner of the net. 

Seven minutes later, an unguarded Jones took a pass from US captain Claudio Reyna and slammed a left-footed shot that deflected into the back of the net off the outstretched fingertips of Arendse's right hand. 

Reyna added a goal in the 65th minute off a centering pass from Jones and set up Earnie Stewart's goal in the 68th, a right-footed shot the midfielder bent just inside the right post. 

South Africa fell to 8-2 with one drawn this year. The US team rose to 4-1 with three drawn in its first triumph since February 16 and first meeting with South Africa. 

Other matches include US-Ireland on Tuesday in Foxboro, Massachusetts, Mexico-South Africa on Wednesday in Dallas and a US-Mexico and Ireland-South Africa doubleheader on June 11 at East Rutherford, New Jersey. 

US defender Jeff Agoos recorded his 100th cap, becoming only the fifth US player to reach the century mark -- (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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