U.S., Trinidad play to scoreless draw in qualifier

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Jeff Agoos and Nigel PierreJeff Agoos and Nigel Pierre: battle for the header.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) -- With qualifying over, the U.S. soccer team turned its attention to the World Cup draw on Dec. 1 and to next year's tournament in Japan and South Korea.

"Now we can get on with the business of preparing for the World Cup," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said Sunday after the Americans, their berth already secure, completed qualifying with a scoreless tie against Trinidad and Tobago.

"Obviously, the conditions were difficult out there with the heat and the humidity," Arena said. "It was a pretty even game. I think the result was fair for both teams."

The Americans clinched their fourth straight trip to the World Cup on Oct. 7 when they beat Jamaica 2-1 at Foxboro, Mass., as Trinidad upset Honduras and Mexico was held to a tie by Costa Rica.

At this same stadium 12 years ago, the United States qualified for its first World Cup in 40 years, winning 1-0 on a 30-yard, 30th-minute goal by Paul Caligiuri, who retired from professional soccer on Oct. 27.

There was nothing at stake Sunday and it showed, with few scoring chances by either team in a game played in 90-degree heat

The game drew just 5,000 to Hasley Crawford Stadium and helped raise money for Marvin Lee, a Trinidad and Tobago player who was paralyzed from the neck down following an on-field collision against the United States on March 20 in a qualifier for the FIFA World Under-20 Championship.

The United States (5-3-2) finished third in the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 17 points, six points behind Costa Rica (7-1-2) and trailing Mexico (5-3-2) on goal difference.

Honduras (4-4-2), eliminated with a 3-0 loss Sunday at Mexico, was three points back in fourth place, followed by Jamaica (2-6-2) and Trinidad and Tobago (1-7-2).

Next up for the qualifiers is the draw at Busan, South Korea, when the teams will be divided into eight groups of four for the first round of the tournament, which runs from May 31 to June 30 in Japan and South Korea.

The United States was missing both of its regular goalkeepers and captain Claudio Reyna. Zach Thornton played in goal and twice had nice stops on Arnold Dwarika, who was the best player in the game.

Arena started an offensive-minded lineup with three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards and was disappointed by the lack of quality crosses from the flanks.

Thornton dived to save a 25-yard shot by Stern John seven minutes into the second half and five minutes later made a sliding block of a shot by Nigel Pierre.

"We can all practice very hard, but the best situation is in a game," said Thornton, who hopes to make the World Cup roster as a backup to Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller.

Josh Wolff entered in the 66th minute as a substitute for Landon Donovan, Wolff's first game since breaking his left foot May 30. Wolff had a scoring chance in the 88th minute off a pass from Cobi Jones, but his shot was way wide.

"It was great to have him back on the field, but he has some ways to go," Arena said.

Donovan started up front for the United States along with Joe-Max Moore, but neither created decent scoring chances as the moved conservatively despite starting six offensive-oriented players.

Trinidad and Tobago, led by Dwarika and John, had the better of the play, especially during a wide-open stretch midway through the second half.

Attendance: 6,000


Trinidad & Tobago: 1-Shaka Hislop (captain), 3-Dale Saunders, 4-Marvin Andrews, 5-Brent Sancho (6-Addison Belfon 71), 8-Angus Eve, 9-Arnold Dwarika, 13-Ancil Elcock (7-Nigel Daniel 74), 14-Stern John, 15-Stokely Mason, 17-Anthony Rougier, 18-Nigel Piere (11-Errol McFarlane 81)

United States: 1-Zach Thornton, 2-Steve Cherundolo, 19-DaMarcus Beasley (13-Cobi Jones 46), 12-Jeff Agoos, 21-Landon Donovan (15-Joshua Wolff 65), 7-Jovan Kirovski, 9-Joe-Max Moore (4-Jesse Marsh 80), 5-John O'Brien, 23-Eddie Pope, 8-Earnie Stewart, 5-Greg Vanney

Referee: Peter Pendergrast (Jamaica).