U.S. Soccer
0

2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Final Round

{1ACEF61C-9966-4CD0-BA16-AD33D93ED1D4}

My Mexico Moment: Oguchi Onyewu Remembers the Stare Down

Oguchi Onyewu’s first Mexico moment isn’t one he remembers fondly.

Entering a final round World Cup Qualifying match on March 27, 2005, the promising young defender with only two caps to his name was handed his toughest test to date when then-head coach Bruce Arena elected to start him in central defense in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s quadrennial visit to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

“You hear the stories about Azteca, but you can’t quite grasp it until you’re in it,” Onyewu told ussoccer.com. “The altitude in the stadium, the fans and the atmosphere plays an even bigger part in making it one of the toughest places to play in the world.”

Partnering with Gregg Berhalter on the back line, the 6-4 center back was also given the unenviable task of marking Mexico’s all-time leading goal scorer Jared Borgetti. The veteran forward, known for his aerial prowess, broke free from Onyewu in the 30th minute to deliver the hosts the opening goal. Beyond his goal, Borgetti gave Onyewu fits most of the match, helping Mexico to a 2-1 win while providing the budding U.S. center back a difficult lesson in World Cup Qualifying.

“Borgetti is a mainstay in Mexican soccer history. He got a goal and unfortunately rained on my parade. It was a definite eye-opener for my first USA-Mexico game at Azteca Stadium.”

Oguchi Onyewu battles Jared Borgetti in 2005 World Cup Qualifier vs. Mexico

Despite the loss, the U.S. cruised through “The Hex” that year, winning its next four matches. Onyewu appeared in two of those wins – a 2-0 victory three days later against Guatemala and 1-0 shutout against Trinidad & Tobago that August – and picked up even more international seasoning that summer by helping the U.S. lift the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup. 

Those results had the MNT riding a nine-match unbeaten streak heading into September’s rematch against Mexico in Columbus. With both teams making quick work of their qualifying opponents, a win for either side that night meant they would be the first from CONCACAF to punch a ticket to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Putting the bigger picture aside, the rematch had personal meaning for Onyewu.   

“After the first game and our loss I definitely was looking forward to the home game in Columbus,” he said. “It was about redemption for myself, but also to rectify the result that we didn’t get in Mexico City. I was extremely focused, as well as everyone else on our team, but I definitely was not about to let Borgetti get the better of me two times around.”

In order to do that, Onyewu focused his efforts on physically frustrating Borgetti from the first whistle and set the tone for the one-on-one clash in the ninth minute. A ball played for Borgetti up the left flank saw him immediately shadowed by Onyewu. The two grappled down the touch line before Carlos Batres blew his whistle to indicate a free kick.

While a foul was committed by Onyewu, it also served to get under Borgetti’s skin, with the veteran forward immediately popping up to throw verbal jabs at the towering defender.

What happened next has become one of the most iconic moments in the USA-Mexico rivalry.

With Borgetti animated in his frustrations toward his marker, Onyewu didn’t respond. Instead, he chose to kindly brush aside the Mexico forward’s protests with an intimidating look that has come to be known in U.S. Soccer circles as “The Stare Down”.

“Obviously in that moment, it never was my objective for that stare to become as big as it has,” Onyewu said. “It’s just one of those moments in the game, and it was such a physical battle between him and I.

“What I remember is that I knocked him down, he got up and he looked like he was going to do something to me and I was really hoping he would. I don’t know what would have happened next, but I was expecting something would have happened. I’m just staring at him like, ‘Either do something or don’t do something.’ I guess that image is forever imprinted in U.S. Soccer history. That image itself speaks of the whole subject of that game in Columbus, Ohio against Mexico.”

The moment sent a message to Borgetti that the match would be altogether different from March’s encounter at Azteca. At the other end of the field, Onyewu's header off the left post setup Steve Ralston's go-ahead goal in the 53rd minute before DaMarcus Beasley added the second five minutes later. Onyewu indeed gained redemption as his play on both sides of the ball earned him Man of the Match honors. 

And while a victory against Mexico always provides a reason to celebrate, bigger party plans were in order that night as the U.S. booked its spot at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

“We had confirmed our berth in the World Cup and we were just celebrating and happy,” Onyewu said. “I think that’s the only thing that was on our minds: the fact that we accomplished our goal and we had something even bigger to look forward to.” 

Read more
MNT Nov 2, 2016

Players Cut: Beasley, Onyewu relive USA vs. Mexico 2005

DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu look back on the USMNT's 2-0 World Cup Qualifying win against Mexico on Sept. 3, 2005 in Columbus, Ohio. Read more
MNT Nov 1, 2016

My Mexico Moment: Steve Ralston

As he prepared to start in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s decisive World Cup Qualifying match on Sept. 3, 2005, veteran midfielder Steve Ralston approached the game like he would any other. With a chance to clinch a berth at the 2006 FIFA World Cup against rivals Mexico, the size of the occasion only hit the 31-year-old as the team bus turned the final corner into Columbus Crew Stadiu Read more
MNT Oct 19, 2016

Gallery: A Second Straight Dos a Cero in Columbus

The Final Round World Cup Qualifier on Sept. 3, 2005 between the USA and Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio saw the USA turn a happy scoreline into the nascent "dos a cero" tradition by beating El Tri 2-0 on home soil in a second consecutive Hexagonal. Read more
MNT Sep 19, 2016

MNT vs. Mexico: Highlights - Sept. 3, 2005

A solid performance from the U.S. Men's National Team backline, led by Oguchi Onyewu, spurred the USA to a 2-0 win against their greatest rival Mexico in this 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifier. Set piece goals from Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley stamped the U.S. Men's National Team's ticket to Germany and ensured another memorable night for U.S. fans at Crew Stadium in Columbus. Read more
MNT Sep 4, 2013

U.S. Men's National Team Closes Out Qualifying With 2-0 Home Win Against Panama

• Kyle Martino and Taylor Twellman Both Score First International Goals• U.S. Wins CONCACAF Hexagonal for First Time in Their History• Draw for 2006 FIFA World Cup to be Held on Dec. 9 in Leipzig, Germany• U.S. Announces MNT Will Use the City of Hamburg as Their Home Base During World Cup FOXBORO, Mass. (October 12, 2005) — The U.S. Men’s Nationa Read more
MNT Oct 13, 2005

U.S. MNT Falls, 3-0, to Costa Rica on Matchday 9

Post-Game Video SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (October 8, 2005) — Costa Rica joined the U.S. and Mexico from CONCACAF in booking their ticket to the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Saturday night with a 3-0 victory over the U.S. Men’s National Team in front of a sold out crowd at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa. Paulo Wanchope scored the game winner in the 34th minute, and Carlos Hernandez cam Read more
MNT Oct 9, 2005

U.S. Continues Shutout Streak in Qualifying; Draws Guatemala 0-0

Seven Players Earn First World Cup Qualifying Start for U.S.Hahnemann Notches Second Career Shutout in First Qualifying AppearanceSuccessful Qualifying Campaign Ends on Oct. 8 in Costa Rica & Oct. 12 in Foxboro vs. PanamaGUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (September 7, 2005) — The U.S. Men’s National Team drew with Guatemala 0-0 at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Wednesday night t Read more
MNT Sep 8, 2005

U.S. Top Mexico 2-0, Clinch Berth in 2006 World Cup

• Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley Score as U.S. Qualifies for Fifth Consecutive World Cup • U.S. Becomes the First Team from CONCACAF to Qualify for the World Cup, Marking the First Time Since 1934 • Keller Records 50th International Victory With the U.S. MNT, Increases Shutout Streak in 2006 World Cup qualifying to 507 Minutes • World Cup Draw to Take Pl Read more
MNT Sep 4, 2005

U.S. MNT Inch Closer to World Cup Berth with 1-0 Win Over Trinidad

McBride’s Second Minute Goal Makes Him USA’s All-Time Qualifying Scoring LeaderKeller Earns Fourth Straight Qualifying Shutout to Extend Shutout Streak to 417 MinutesU.S. Reconvenes in 11 Days to Prepare for Sept. 3 Showdown with Mexico in ColumbusEAST HARTFORD, N.J. (August 17, 2005) — The U.S. Men’s National Team beat Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 on Wednesday evening in an impo Read more
MNT Aug 18, 2005

U.S. Tops Panama 3-0 in Panama City in World Cup Qualifier

PANAMA CITY, Panama (June 8, 2005) — The U.S. Men’s National Team recorded a resounding 3-0 victory on Wednesday evening against Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, further entrenching the team’s bid for a berth in the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006. The 3-0 win was the second of the week for the U.S. in World Cup qualifying and came courtesy of goals from Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Read more
MNT Jun 9, 2005

U.S. Tops Costa Rica, 3-0, in Qualifier in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (June 4, 2005) - The U.S. Men’s National Team recorded a dominating 3-0 victory against Costa Rica in front of a raucous Utah crowd of 40,586 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The victory was sparked by two goals from forward Landon Donovan and six sparkling second-half saves by goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Donovan’s two strikes were his f Read more
MNT Jun 5, 2005

U.S. Rebounds With 2-0 Victory Over Guatemala

U.S. Moves Solidly Into Second Place with Six Points Following First Three QualifiersEddie Johnson & Steve Ralston Strike in Each Half to Lead USA to VictoryKeller Earns 37th Career Shutout to Extend His U.S. MNT RecordU.S. Resumes Qualifying on June 4 in Salt Lake City vs. Costa Rica, One Week After England Match in Chicago on May 28 BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (March 30, 2005) — The U.S. Men’s National Read more
MNT Mar 31, 2005

U.S. Falls to Mexico 2-1 on Second Matchday of 2006 World Cup Final Round Qualifying

U.S. Struggles in Mexico Continue as All-Time Record Falls to 0-22-1Two First Half Goals By Mexico Within Three Minutes Provide Mexico With Victory Eddie Lewis Scores Lone Goal for U.S. in 59th Minute U.S. Travels Back to the States for Next Qualifier Against Guatemala on March 30 live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.  MEXICO CITY, Mexico (March 27, 2005) — The U.S. M Read more
MNT Mar 27, 2005

Schedule

Results

Date Matchup Result Venue Attendance Goal Scorers
2-0 W Gillette Stadium; Foxborough, Mass. 9,192 Martino, Twellman
0-3 L Estadio Ricardo Saprissa; San Jose, Costa Rica 30,000 --
0-0 D Estadio Mateo Flores; Guatemala City, Guatemala 27,000 --
MNT vs Mexico 2-0 W Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio 24,685 Ralston, Beasley
1-0 W Rentschler Field; East Hartford, Conn. 25,488 McBride
3-0 W Estadio Rommel Fernandez; Panama City, Panama 17,000 Bocanegra, Donovan, McBride
3-0 W Rice-Eccles Stadium; Salt Lake City, Utah 40,586 Donovan (2), McBride
2-0 W Legion Field; Birmingham, Alabama 31,624 Johnson, Ralston
1-2 L Estadio Azteca; Mexico City, Mexico 110,000 Lewis
2-1 W Queens Park Oval; Port of Spain n/a Johnson, Lewis
×