US Eliminated From Copa America

Thursday, July 5th 2007, 7:17 am
By: News On 6

PUERTO LA CRUZ, Venezuela (AP) _ The United States was eliminated from the Copa America when Brazil defeated Ecuador 1-0 and Mexico played a 0-0 tie against Chile on Wednesday night.

The United States, which lost 4-1 to Argentina 3-1 to Paraguay, needed Ecuador to beat Brazil in the second game of Wednesday night's doubleheader to remain in contention for a quarterfinal berth. The winless U.S. team plays its final game Thursday against Colombia (0-2), which was also knocked out.

Brazil (2-1) was sluggish and needed a disputed penalty goal by Robinho to beat Ecuador.

After a scoreless first half, and with Ecuador threatening, a foul was called in the 56th minute on Giovanni Espinoza for grabbing Robinho, who fell to the ground.

Despite the protests of the Ecuadoreans, the Real Madrid striker buried the penalty shot just to the right of goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga for his fourth goal in the South American championships. He leads the tournament in goals.

With the victory, Brazil finishes second in Group B, setting up a quarterfinal rematch Saturday in Puerto La Cruz against Chile.

Ecuador (0-3) goes home winless despite having fielded much of the same veteran squad that helped it qualify for the past two World Cups.

Chile (1-1-1) earned a quarterfinal berth with the tie, and Mexico (2-0-1), an invited guest along with the United States, already was assured of advancing.

``We're gaining recognition and respect,'' Mexican coach Hugo Sanchez said. ``I'm sure that whoever we face, whether it's Argentina or Paraguay, neither of them want to play against Mexico.''

Chile lost 3-0 in the first meeting with Brazil.

``The most important thing was to qualify,'' Chilean coach Nelson Acosta said. ``We wanted to score a goal, but the rival was difficult.''

CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American soccer, was unhappy the U.S. Soccer Federation sent a youthful team and omitted most of its regular starters from the roster. After winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup last month, the USSF let most veterans players return to their MLS teams or take breaks before the start of the European club season.

``We like for the continent's most important competition to be respected with the best players,'' CONMEBOL general secretary Eduardo Deluca told The Associated Press. He said the USSF decision ``doesn't please us.''