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US Soccer Team Beats Mexico, 2-0, Earns Berth in 2006 World Cup

The U.S. Men's Soccer team has defeated Mexico, two-nothing, to earn a berth in next year's World Cup in Germany. The U.S. men are the first team from the North, Central American and Caribbean region to book a place in the World Cup.

The match was even through the first 53 minutes, but then Oguchi Onyewu deflected teammate Eddie Lewis's free kick in front of Mexico's goal.

Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez sprawled across the goalmouth to try to stop Onyewu and when the shot ricocheted off the goalpost, Steve Ralston was there to head it in. The goal electrified the capacity crowd of 24,365 at Columbus Crew Stadium.

The crowd was on its feet against when Demarcus Beasley added the second goal just five minutes later. U.S. Coach Bruce Arena said the win at home makes up for a two to one loss in Mexico City's Azteca Stadium. "Mexico played the kind of game we thought they'd play. Obviously you can not compare games away from Mexico City. Mexico City is a lopsided advantage for the Mexican team because of the altitude. It makes a completely different game. And we know when we play them anywhere else we can beat them and we proved that tonight," he said.

Steve Ralston said that even though the winning goal came off a set piece, it was enough to get the U.S. team to the World Cup. "But we talked about all week that set pieces were going to be an important part of the game, and that they were probably going to decide the game. And both of our goals came off those, so. I was in the right place at the right time. I don't think I was too involved in the game for the time I was in there. But it was a scrappy [difficult] game and we showed a lot of heart and we fought for the entire 90 minutes," he said.

This is the first time since 1934 that the United States is the first team to qualify for the World Cup from the North, Central American and Caribbean Region.

The U.S. team leads the CONCACAF final round standings with 18 points and three games left to play. Mexico is second with 16, but still needs another point in its last three games to qualify for Germany. Costa Rica is third with 10 points thanks to its three to one win over Panama. Only the top three teams earn automatic berths to the World Cup.