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US Men's Soccer Team on Verge of Qualifying for 2006 World Cup - 2004-06-18

The United States men's soccer team is on the verge of the next round of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The Americans play the second match of a two-game series against Grenada on Sunday in Saint George's, Grenada.

The U.S. men won the opening match of this series last Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, with a 3-0 victory over Grenada. American goalie Kasey Keller only had to make one save as he passed Tony Meola on the all-time victory list for U.S. goalkeepers with 38 wins in 69 appearances.

Keller's shutout was the 34th of his career, extending his U.S. record. The American men now have a 381-minute shutout streak, with four different goalkeepers earning shutouts in their last four matches.

They hope to continue that streak against host Grenada on Sunday, but the primary focus is winning and advancing to the next round of World Cup qualifying.

VOA Sports asked U.S. head coach Bruce Arena if there was anything to worry about considering his team's three-goal advantage.

"Well, you never know," he acknowledged. "Funny things happen when you go on the road. Certainly the support of the home fans it big, having home field advantage. You don't know what the surface is going to be like. And you know in games like this if you give them the opportunity to believe in themselves they can be dangerous. So certainly the first half of the game is going to be important. We need to go in at halftime with the lead, or at the very worst even."

So Coach Arena says even with the 3-0 advantage, the Americans will not play defensively against Grenada.

"We should be good enough to dictate this game, home or away," he said. "And we're going to go there in an aggressive fashion and try to win by a comfortable margin."

The winner of this two-match World Cup qualifying series versus Grenada advances to one of three North, Central America and Caribbean regional semifinal groups. Presuming the favorites all get through, the United States would next be up against Jamaica, El Salvador and Panama.