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Notes and Statistics: 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Recap


The 16-month FIFA World Cup qualifying process began for the U.S. on June 15, 2008, and concluded 484 days later with the U.S. capturing the top spot in the final round standings in CONCACAF. Along the way there were records set, new talent uncovered, and veterans displaying their leadership both on the scoresheet and through their determined efforts. The U.S. demonstrated both command and resilience during the campaign, combining attacking prowess with defensive mettle to produce some of the most impressive results in their qualifying history. Roughly seven months from now the U.S. will open their pre-World Cup training camp; until then, the statistics and notes included here help tell the journey the U.S. traveled to qualify for its sixth consecutive FIFA World Cup.

CAMPEONES AGAIN: The U.S. Men's National Team finished atop the World Cup qualifying Final Round standings in CONCACAF for the second consecutive cycle, besting Mexico by one point at the summit of the Hexagonal. Jonathan Bornstein's stoppage time goal with only seconds remaining leveled the score with Costa Rica on Oct. 14 in Washington, D.C., the 2-2 draw giving the USA the vital point it needed. The result at RFK Stadium, coupled with Mexico's draw by the same score with Trinidad & Tobago in Port-of-Spain, kept the U.S. first with El Tri second. The late drama in the nation's capital served to shake up third and fourth spot in the standings as well, with Honduras the beneficiary. Los Catrachos won on the road in El Salvador (the first time in the final round the visitors won in San Salvador) and leapfrogged Costa Rica to claim the third and final automatic berth to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF Final Round Standings

Team

GPWLTGFGAGDPts.

United States *

10

6

2

2

19

13

6

20

Mexico *

10

6

3

1

17

11

6

19

Honduras *

10

5

4

1

17

11

6

16

Costa Rica ^

10

5

4

1

15

15

0

16

El Salvador

 10

2

6

2

10

16

-6

8

Trinidad & Tobago

 10

1

6

3

10

22

 -12

6

* Qualified for SA2010 berth    ^ Will play-off against Uruguay for SA2010 berth

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    GAME-WINNERS: With his goal against El Salvador, Jozy Altidore became the fourth U.S. player to record multiple game-winning goals in this World Cup cycle. Michael Bradley has a pair of game-winners to his credit, including the brilliant flick against T & T on Sept. 10, 2008, in the 3-0 win in Bridgeview, Ill., and both goals in the 2-0 win against Mexico on Feb. 11 in Columbus. Carlos Bocanegra headed home the lone goal in the 1-0 win on Aug. 20, 2008, at Guatemala to open the semifinal round, then repeated the feat to help the U.S. past Honduras on June 6 in Chicago. Clint Dempsey recorded two game-winning goals in World Cup qualifying last year – against Barbados on June 15, 2008, in Carson, Calif., and in the 1-0 win on Sept. 6, 2008, in Cuba. Overall, nine U.S. scorers have GWG next to their name on the scoresheet in this cycle.

    DONOVAN SNATCHES ANOTHER RECORD: Landon Donovan holds numerous records for the U.S. Men's National Team, and during the 2010 qualifying campaign he added two more to his biography. Already the all-time leader for the U.S. in both caps and goals, he took over the top position in the record books in all-time qualifying caps and goals as well. Donovan surpassed former teammates and national team standouts Kasey Keller, Eddie Pope, and Claudio Reyna in appearances when he started against El Salvador on Sept. 5, 2009 and passed 2002 FIFA World Cup strike partner Brian McBride in scoring with his penalty kick goal on June 6, 2009, against Honduras.

    All-Time Qualifying Cap Leaders
    RankPlayerCapsEra
    1. Donovan, Landon 35 2001-2009
    2. Keller, Kasey 31 1996-2005
      Pope, Eddie 31 1996-2005
      Reyna, Claudio 31 1996-2005
    5. Jones, Cobi 30 1996-2004
    Stewart, Earnie 30 1996-2004
    7. Agoos, Jeff 26 1996-2001
    Beasley, DaMarcus 26 2001-2009
    Bocanegra, Carlos 26 2004-2009
    10. McBride, Brian 25 1996-2005

    All-Time Qualifying Goal Leaders
    RankNameCyclesGP/GS  Goals 
    1. Donovan, Landon 2002, 2006, 2010 35/33 12
    2. McBride, Brian 1998, 2002, 2006 25/19 10

    3.

    Stewart, Earnie 1998, 2002, 2006 30/27 9
    4. Johnson, Eddie 2006, 2010 9/4 8
    5. Altidore, Jozy 2010 13/8 6
    Beasley, DaMarcus 2002, 2006, 2010 21/20 6
    Ching, Brian 2006, 2010 11/9 6
      Roy, Willy  1966, 1970, 1974 11/11 6 
    9. Bradley, Michael 2010 15/15 5
    Dempsey, Clint 2006, 2010 20/13 5
    Moore, Joe-Max 1998, 2002 20/16 5
    Murphy, Eddie 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970 13/13 5
    Wynalda, Eric 1998 11/11 5

    DON’T GIVE UP: The USA’s ability to rebound from goal deficits proved vital to the successful qualifying campaign. When considering the U.S. finished first in the group by a single point, the unprecedented result away to El Salvador looks that much more meaningful. Here are the numbers on the ‘comeback kids’:

    • The U.S. earned 11 of their 20 total points in the final round of qualifying after surrendering the first goal. In fact, in five of the seven matches in which the opponent scored the first goal, the U.S. earned points -- two come from behind ties and three come from behind wins.
    • The come-from-behind 2-2 tie in El Salvador marked the first time that the team had faced and erased a two-goal deficit on the road.
    • The come-from-behind victory against Honduras on June 6, 2009, was the first in qualifying for the United States in more than 24 years, the last occurring on May 15, 1985 against Trinidad & Tobago in St. Louis.

    ROAD WARRIORS: The U.S. finished qualifying with a 5-3-1 road record, the best in CONCACAF, earning 16 points. That mark also bests the team’s performance from the 2002 cycle, where they finished with a 4-2-3 record away from home. More on that later. Here’s how the Hexagonal teams fared away from home:

      • United States: 5-3-1
      • Costa Rica: 4-3-2
      • Mexico: 2-5-2 *
      • Honduras: 2-5-2
      • Trinidad & Tobago: 2-5-2
      • El Salvador: 2-7-1 ^
        * Mexico’s away game against Belize was played in Houston, Texas
        ^ El Savador’s away game against Anguilla was played in Washington, D.C.; El Salvador only team listed to play in the first round.

    • In the final round, there were only five road victories – and the U.S. was the only team with more than one, posting wins at Honduras and at Trinidad & Tobago.
    • In the final round, the U.S. earned seven of their 20 points on the road, three points more than any other team.

    Points earned on the road  
    in the Final Round:
    Points surrendered at home  
    in the Final Round:
    USA: 7 Mexico: 0
    Honduras: 4 USA: 1
    Costa Rica: 4 Costa Rica: 3
    Mexico: 4 Honduras: 3
    Trinidad & Tobago: 1 El Salvador: 5
    El Salvador: 0 Trinidad & Tobago: 8


    MEN OF THE MATCH: Eleven different players earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors throughout the qualifying campaign, with four multiple winners. Michael Bradley led all award recipients with four MOTM nods, while Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu picking up a pair each.

    MAGICAL MATCHDAY 9: The USA has qualified for the World Cup on Matchday 9 in three of the last four World Cup cycles. The heroics in Honduras on Oct. 10 sealed the USA's passage to the World Cup on the second-to-last day of games. Eight years ago a USA victory against Jamaica on Oct. 7, 2001, coupled with Trinidad's defeat of Honduras and Mexico's draw with Costa Rica sent Bruce Arena's team to Korea/Japan where they would go on to make the quarterfinals. During the road to France '98, the USA beat Canada on Nov. 2, 1997 (Matchday 9, of course) behind a goal from Claudio Reyna and two from Roy Wegerle. The victory in Vancouver confirmed the USA's spot in the World Cup with one game to play.

    STREAKING: The U.S. team did plenty of that during this cycle, starting straight out of the gate:

    • The U.S. did not allow a goal in the first 573 minutes during 2010 World Cup qualifying.
    • From Oct. 12, 2005, to Oct. 11, 2008, the U.S. won seven straight FIFA World Cup qualifiers in a row, a new team record.
    • The U.S. started the 2010 qualifying campaign with six straight victories, a team record for most consecutive wins in one cycle.
    • Three of those six victories were on the road, marking the first time the U.S. has won three consecutive away qualifiers.
    • Including the last match of the 2006 qualifying cycle, the U.S. set a record by not allowing a goal in six consecutive qualifiers from Oct. 12, 2005 to Oct. 11, 2008.
    • The U.S. scored multiple goals in four consecutive qualifiers for the first time in the 2010 cycle from Nov. 19, 2008, to April 1, 2009.

    MORE QUALIFYING FACTS & FIGURES

    Debutants

    • Twenty-eight of the 43 players to appear in a qualifier made their qualifying debut this cycle. By contrast, the U.S. used 26 neophytes and 46 different players overall in the 2006 cycle.
    • The first of the 28 were Michael Bradley, Brad Guzan and Heath Pearce, who debuted on June 15, 2008, vs. Barbados.
    • The last was Robbie Rogers, who debuted with 22 minutes remaining in the final qualifier on Oct. 14, 2009.
    • In all, the U.S. used 17 different starting lineups. The only time that the same 11 players played back-to-back games were Sept. 10, 2008 (3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago) and Oct. 11, 2008 (6-1 win against Cuba): Beasley, Bocanegra, Bradley, Cherundolo, Ching, Dempsey, Donovan, Howard, Kljestan, Onyewu, Pearce.

    Goals, Goals, Goals for the Red White and Blue

    • Seventeen different players scored a goal during the qualifying campaign.
    • Ten of those players scored their first career qualifying goal.
    • Starters scored 38 of the 42 U.S. goals. Off the bench, Jozy Altidore scored two of his team-leading six qualifying goals. The other scorers off the bench were Eddie Johnson and Charlie Davies.
    • Landon Donovan scored or assisted on 12 of the 19 goals that the U.S. scored in the final round of qualifying.
    • Never before the 2010 cycle has the top qualifying goal scorer for the U.S. accounted for a lower percentage of the team’s goals. Jozy Altidore’s six goals accounted for 14 percent of the total goal output by the USA (42). Here’s a look at the top scorers dating back to the 1990 World Cup cycle:

      Year Top Scorer

      Goals

        Team Goals 

        Pct.   

      2010   Jozy Altidore

      6

      42

      .14 

      1990   H. Perez/F. Klopas

      2

      11

      .18 

      1998   Eric Wynalda

      5

      27

      .19 

      2006   L. Donovan/E. Johnson

      7

      35

      .20

      2002  Earnie Stewart

      8

      25

      .32

    It’s All About Timing (entire 2010 cycle):

    • There were only three games in qualifying in which the U.S. never had the lead, and the U.S. played its first 510 minutes of qualifying without trailing in a match.
    • The U.S. outscored opponents 15-9 in the first half, and 27-7 in the second half.
    • The U.S. scored a total of 15 goals in the last 10 minutes of each half (5 first half, 10 second half), while allowing only one goal in the final 10 minutes of a half – Miguel Sabah’s game-winner at Estadio Azteca.
    • Eight of the 13 game-winning goals for the U.S. came in the first half. The fastest was at home in the first minute against Barbados. The latest came in the 71st minute against Honduras in the game that clinched the World Cup berth.
    • How are these for bookend goals? The first U.S. goal of the cycle came 53 seconds into their first game as Clint Dempsey scored against Barbados. The final U.S. goal of the cycle game with 20 seconds left in the allotted stoppage time against Costa Rica, when Jonathan Bornstein’s header clinched first place in the Hexagonal group.
    • The U.S. had seven magic minutes in which they scored more than one qualifying goal: the 9th, 43rd, 63rd, 69th, 71st, 89th and 90th+2. In all, the 90th minute and stoppage time saw the U.S. score four goals, two coming in the second minute of stoppage time.

    It’s All About Timing (Final Round Edition):

    • There were only two games in the final round that the U.S. never had the lead, and there were only three games in which the U.S. never found itself down a goal. In all, the U.S. played 260 minutes in the lead, 344 minutes tied and 296 minutes behind. 
    • The U.S. was outscored by opponents 8-6 in the first half, but in the second half the U.S. outscored opponents 13-5.

    Also for the Record

    • The 8-0 win against Barbados at home on June 15, 2008, was the largest margin of victory for the U.S. in any match.
    • During the 2010 campaign, the U.S. shutout out four opponents on the road for the first time since the 1998 campaign. All four shutouts this cycle were victories, while in 1998 the U.S. was 2-0-2 when shutting out opponents on the road.
    • By scoring on March 28, 2009, in El Salvador, Frankie Hejduk scored his second career FIFA World Cup qualifying goal. His other qualifying goal came on Dec. 21, 1996, in a 2-2 draw against Guatemala that was played in San Salvador. The gap of 12 years and 97 days was the longest between qualifying goals ever for a U.S. player, with Tab Ramos holding the distinction previously with eight years and 130 days between qualifying goals.

    More Fabulous Firsts

    • Charlie Davies goal in the ninth minute at Estadio Azteca marked the first time the U.S. ever held a lead in that stadium. Davies also joined Willy Roy, Rick Davis and Eddie Lewis as the only U.S. players to score there
    • The USA opened the semifinal round with a 1-0 victory against Guatemala in Guatemala City on Aug. 20, 2008 – the first U.S. win on Guatemalan soil in more than 20 years.

    Notable

    • With a 1-0 victory at Cuba in 2008, the U.S. posted its 50th all-time win in qualifying. At the end of the 2010 cycle, the U.S. record in qualifying stands at 59-33-30. The record since 1990 in qualifying is 46-11-21.
    • Michael Bradley’s two goals against Mexico on Feb. 11, 2009, marked the first multi-goal effort for the U.S. against Mexico since Steve Moyers scored twice in a 2-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win on Nov. 23, 1980.
    • Tim Howard’s six shutouts this qualifying cycle tie Kasey Keller for the second most shutouts in one cycle. Keller, who had eight shutouts in the 2006 qualifying campaign, also holds the record.
    • Jozy Altidore’s hat trick on April 1, 2009, against Trinidad & Tobago was the fourth-ever in FIFA World Cup qualifying for the U.S. Aldo ‘Buff’ Donelli (1934 vs. Mexico), Peter Millar (1968 vs. Bermuda) and Eddie Johnson (2004 vs. Panama) are the others.

    CLUTCH PERFORMERS: The FIFA World Cup qualifying process adheres strictly to the old adage “It's a marathon, not a sprint.” The path to the World Cup is a slog that encompasses multiple years, a plethora of games and dozens of players; it is very much a group effort. At the same time, an individual moment of brilliance can often be the catalyst for a team's progression to the World Cup finals. On Oct. 10 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Landon Donovan became the seventh player to score the goal that clinched a FIFA World Cup berth for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Read More.

    World Cup  DateOpponent (score)Game-Winning Goal  
    1934 May 24, 1934 Mexico (4-2) Aldo ‘Buff’ Donelli
    1950 Sept. 21, 1949    Cuba (5-2) Pete Matevich
    1990 Nov. 19, 1989    Trinidad & Tobago (1-0)   Paul Caligiuri
    1998 Nov. 9, 1997 Canada (3-0) Claudio Reyna
    2002 Oct. 7, 2001 Jamaica (2-1) Joe-Max Moore
    2006 Sept. 3, 2005 Mexico (2-0) Steve Ralston
    2010 Oct. 10, 2009 Honduras (3-2) Landon Donovan

    SOCA WARRIORS LEND A HAND: For the third consecutive World Cup qualifying cycle, Trinidad & Tobago earned a result that had a significant impact on the USA's final standing in the Hexagonal. Having already been eliminated from the World Cup, one could have forgiven T & T for wilting in the face of a Mexico team fighting for the top spot in the group. That was absolutely not the case, as a hard-fought 2-2 draw saw Mexico drop points, allowing the U.S. to maintain its position at the summit of the group. Four years ago it was a similar story, with the Soca Warriors beating Mexico on the final day of qualifying. That result allowed the USA to finish first in the group during qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. On Oct. 7, 2001 Trinidad & Tobago defeated Honduras, one of the three pieces of the puzzle required for the USA to qualify for the 2002 World Cup on that day.

    AVOIDING THE SUSPENSION: Facing a potentially dire situation where as many as 11 U.S. players could have been suspended for one of the final four matches of qualifying, the team showed incredible discipline as not one player picked up their second yellow card of the cycle during the critical three victories that guaranteed the United States a spot in South Africa. Included amongst those in the danger zone were Jozy Altidore, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Oguchi Onyewu. Avoiding cards meant that Bob Bradley had every player available to him (barring injury) for selection as the team came down the home stretch.

    FOR COMPARISON: QUALIFYING THIS DECADE
    200220062010
    Games 16 18 18
    Record 8-4-4 12-2-4 13-3-2
    Goals For 25 35 42
    Goals Per Game 1.56 1.94 2.47
    Goals Against 11 11 16
    Goals Against Average 0.69 0.61 0.89
    Shutouts 9 11 9
    Times shutout 5 2 0
    Players Used 38 46 43
    Goal Scorers 10 13 17
    Most Goals Stewart (8) Donovan/Johnson (7) Altidore (6)
    Most Assists Mathis/Jones (4) Donovan (8) Donovan (11)
    Goalkeepers Used 4 3 2
    Home Record 6-1-1 8-0-1 8-0-1
    Home Goals For 17 22 30
    Home Goals Against 4 1 5
    Road Record 2-3-3 4-2-3 5-3-1
    Road Goals For 8 13 11
    Road Goals Against 7 10 11
    Home Venues Used 4 6 8
    Venues
    Birmingham, Ala. - 1 -
    Bridgeview, Ill. - - 1
    Carson, Calif. - - 1
    Chicago, Ill. - - 1
    Columbus, Ohio 2 3 1
    Commerce City, Colo. - - 1
    Foxborough, Mass. 3 2 -
    East Hartford, Conn. - 1 -
    Kansas City, Mo. 1 - -
    Nashville, Tenn. - - 1
    Salt Lake City, Utah - 1 -
    Sandy, Utah - - 1
    Washington, D.C. 2 1 2

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