Nineteen minutes changed the fortunes of three World Cup teams. All the time in the world couldn't help the hapless, dissension-riddled squad from the United States.
Mexico and the Netherlands advanced to the second round, and Belgium was knocked out of the tournament, on the strength of three second-half goals Thursday - two by the Mexicans, one by South Korea.Germany beat Iran 2-0, dominating a game the Iranians hoped would produce an upset and a second-round spot.
And for the United States, one game seemed just like the last in its utter flop of a World Cup. The Americans hit another goalpost with a shot, lost 1-0 to Yugoslavia and did more finger-pointing.
"I don't think we got the best out of the talent we had here," Tab Ramos said. "From the beginning, this whole World Cup has been a mess. I blame the coaches for the losses. I have no problem saying that."
Today, as the team left France, coach Steve Sampson announced "sig-ni-ficant fines" against American players who criticized the U.S. Soccer Federation "as a way of directing a message to younger players that this is not professional behavior."
Mexico had no such problems after its second straight comeback vic-tory.
"I am happy. It was an unbelievable game," said Luis Hernandez, whose goal in the fifth minute of injury time produced a 2-2 draw with the Netherlands. "It was a fantastic game for us, a triumph for Mexico and the Mexican people."
Ricardo Pelaez scored in the 75th minute, starting Mexico's rally.
Tied with the Dutch in points entering the match, and ahead of Belgium by two points, Mexico sup-posed-ly had the toughest task of reaching the second round. Belgium, after all, played against South Korea, winless in five World Cups.
With the Netherlands leading 2-0 in Saint-Etienne and the Belgians up 1-0 in Paris, that forecast seemed right.
But Yoo Sangchul tied it for South Korea in the 71st minute for a 1-1 tie. And the two late-developing draws meant Mexico will get Germany on Monday in Montpellier, while the Netherlands will face off against Yugoslavia in Tou-louse.
Belgium goes home.
The second-round pairings were to be completed today when Romania faced Tunisia and England took on Colombia in Group G. Earlier today, Argentina won Group H by beating Croatia 1-0; both teams already were in the second round.
Jamaica registered its first World Cup victory, beating Japan 2-1.
The England-Columbia match in Lens drew added attention because of the violent reputation of English fans. Some 100 people, most of them supporters from England, were arrested overnight in northern France and across the border in Belgium, and Lens braced for trouble.
In Montpellier, Oliver Bierhoff and Juergen Klinsmann scored early in the second half and Germany ended Iranian hopes.
At Nantes, the Yugoslavs scored less than four minutes after kickoff, then struggled to hold off the Americans.
The U.S. team, which lost all three games by a combined 5-1 scored and was humiliated in a 2-1 loss to Iran, hit the post after only 24 seconds. The Americans came away frustrated when Slobodan Komljenovic headed in a rebound off a free kick.
Sampson was stung by the criticism of his coaching.
"You select 22 players, you give players the opportunity to participate in a World Cup or at least be selected and enjoy the World Cup," he said. "You stick by your players, even during hard times, and you hope they appreciate that. That's all you can do as a coach. Some have done a great job of showing that appreciation. Some have not."