WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 11, 2008) - The U.S. Men's National Team clinched a berth in the Final Round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying with a dominating 6-1 victory against Cuba at RFK Stadium on Saturday evening in Washington, D.C. DaMarcus Beasley scored two goals, while Landon Donovan, Brian Ching, Jozy Altidore and Oguchi Onyewu added tallies as the U.S. took full advantage of the passionate home support.
The U.S. is undefeated in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying, with six consecutive wins. In what is the best ever start to a U.S. qualifying campaign, the team has set a record for the most consecutive victories in one World Cup qualifying cycle. The victory also increased the U.S. Men’s record run of qualifying wins in a row to seven, dating back to the last match in the Final Round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
“Our goal was to earn a spot in the next round, and we’re very pleased we were able to accomplish that tonight,” said U.S. Men’s National Team Bob Bradley. “We were also pleased with a strong team performance, especially against a Cuba team that fought hard and were difficult to break down despite coming in with no points.”
Bradley’s side started strong, taking the game to the Cubans from the opening whistle. They found the breakthrough just ten minutes in, when Beasley latched on to an excellent through ball by midfielder Sacha Kljestan. Beasley’s one-time finish, his 16th goal for the U.S., was perfectly placed to beat Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina to the far right post.
The goal rattled Cuba, allowing the U.S. offense to continue churning, generating more chances in front of an excited home crowd. Midfielder Clint Dempsey sent an attempt just over the bar in the 22nd minute, and then a minute later Michael Bradley had a goal disallowed for offside.
In the 30th minute, Donovan collected the ball on the right flank, looked to the far post and whipped in an excellent ball to Beasley, who timed his run to perfection. He controlled well with his chest, before forcing the ball past Molina with his right foot for his second goal of the night.
For most teams, the early goals would signal an oncoming rout, but Cuba fought the odds and surprised everyone by responding immediately in the 32nd minute. Jenzy Muñoz pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the U.S. area, and with the outside of his foot he hit a perfectly weighted shot that barely grazed the crossbar before going in the goal over the outstretched Tim Howard.
The goal was the first for a U.S. opponent in 582 minutes of action since Spain scored against the U.S. on June 4 in Santander. It also ended a shutout streak of 573 minutes during World Cup qualifying.
Already a goal down, Cuba’s task was made even harder in the 41st minute when Yoel Colomé was dismissed for his second yellow card. Colomé clipped Donovan, who had used his pace to beat the Cuban defender to the ball, and referee Roberto Moreno Salazar had little choice in putting the offender in his notebook for the second time.
The U.S. made a slight tweak to their formation to start the second half, but continued to keep the pressure on Cuba, and Donovan put the proverbial nail in the coffin just three minutes in when he finished off one of the prettiest goals of the evening. After a series of passes through the midfield, Ching collected the ball at the top of the penalty area with his back to goal and then slipped the ball wide left to Heath Pearce. With his first touch toward the endline, Pearce then slipped the ball through the six-yard box where a crashing Ching let the ball go and allowed Donovan the easy tap-in past Molina.
After two point-blank attempts from Dempsey and Beasley were saved by Molina, the Cuban goalkeeper was unable to keep out Ching’s goal-line header in the 63rd minute. Beasley whipped in a free kick from the right side to the back post for a wide-open Kljestan, who headed the ball along the goal line where Ching did the last bit to make sure it was across the line.
In the 68th minute, José Torres made his international debut for the U.S. when he came in for Heath Pearce, while Altidore replaced Ching. Altidore was the first to provide a spark, collecting a through ball on the right side and holding off his defender as he darted on goal, but Molina once again proved up to the task, this time knocking away the attempt with his right knee.
Altidore would get another chance, but first Donovan came just a foot from tallying his second on the night, his free-kick skimming the outside of the post from 25 yards. Torres meanwhile, was making his mark on proceedings, and the debutant unleashed a rocket just high from 30 yards out. In the 87th minute, Altidore finally broke through when Dempsey slipped him straight up the gut of the Cuban defense and the youngster held off his defender before burying a low shot past a helpless Molina.
Onyewu finished off the scoring in the 90th minute when he headed home a cross from Freddy Adu, who had replaced Kljestan in the 76th minute.
The U.S. will announce the travel roster Sunday for the upcoming match against Trinidad & Tobago, which kicks off on Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. ET at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN and Galavision.
Notes: This was the fourth consecutive win in the Semifinal Round, which ties for the most wins ever in a Semifinal Round (four in 1998 WC qualifying as well) … Costa Rica became the first team to book their place in the final hexagonal with a 4-1 victory against Suriname in Paramaribo in Group 3 on Saturday afternoon … The U.S. will not know it’s schedule in the Final Round of qualifying until December.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Cuba
Date: October 11, 2008
Competition: FIFA World Cup qualifier
Venue: RFK Stadium – Washington, D.C.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 71 degrees, clear
1 2 F
USA 2 4 6
CUB 1 0 1
USA – DaMarcus Beasley (Sacha Kljestan) 10th minute
USA – DaMarcus Beasley (Landon Donovan) 30.
CUB – Jenzy Muñoz (unassisted) 32.
USA – Landon Donovan (Heath Pearce) 48.
USA – Brian Ching (Sacha Kljestan) 63.
USA – Jozy Altidore (Clint Dempsey) 87.
USA – Oguchi Onyewu (Freddy Adu) 90.
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.),15-Heath Pearce (4-José Torres, 68); 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 12-Michael Bradley 16-Sacha Kljestan (17- Freddy Adu, 76); 8-Clint Dempsey, 10-Landon Donovan; 11-Brian Ching (9-Jozy Altidore, 68)
Subs Not Used: 18-Brad Guzan, 2-Frankie Hejduk, 13-Maurice Edu, 14-Danny Califf.
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
CUB: 12-Odelín Molina; 6-Yoel Colomé, 16-Reysander Fernández, 3-Yeniel Márquez, 2-Silvio Miñoso; 14-Jaime Colomé (8-Alianas Urgelles, 72), 5-José Luis Clavelo (capt.), 7-Luis Villegas (13-Carlos Domingo, 46), 9-Alain Cervantes, 11-Jenzy Muñoz (10-Mario Ruiz, 80), 15-Leonel Duarte
Subs not used: 1-Danis Quintero, 4-Yosvani Caballeros.
Head Coach: Reinhold Franz
USA / CUB
Shots 18 4
Shots on Goal 13 2
Saves 1 6
Corner Kicks 9 1
Fouls 11 9
Offside 3 3
CUB – Yoel Colomé (caution) 21st minute.
CUB – Yoel Colomé (caution) 41.
CUB – Yoel Colomé (sent off) 41.
CUB – Reysander Fernández (caution) 62.
USA – Michael Bradley (caution) 90+
Referee: Roberto Moreno Salazar (PAN)
1st Asst.: Daniel Anel Williamson (PAN)
2nd Asst.: Jaime Smith (PAN)
Fourth Official: José Luis Rodriguez de la Rosa (PAN)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: DaMarcus Beasley