The U.S. men's soccer team scored a 6-1 victory over visiting Cuba Saturday night to clinch a berth in the final round of regional qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer was at the match at RFK Stadium in Washington and has a report.
On a beautiful fall evening in the nation's capital before a crowd of just over 20,000, the Americans wasted no time against a Cuban team that came into the match with no wins and three losses in semifinal group play.
Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley scored in the 10th minute from 12 meters out on the left side of the box.
"It's always difficult to get the first one, so once we got that one I thought, you know, more will come, hopefully," said Beasley.
And it was Beasley himself who added a second goal in the 30th minute beating Cuban goalkeeper Silvio Minoso to the far post.
The Cubans got one back two minutes later from Jenzy Munoz who lofted a shot just under the crossbar. But when his teammate Yoel Colome was sent off with his second yellow card just before the intermission, it meant Cuba played a man down for the entire second half.
U.S. veteran midfielder Landon Donovan scored three minutes after the intermission to make it 3-1. Forward Brian Ching made it 4-1 in the 63rd minute, and the Americans added two goals in the final minutes. Eighteen year-old substitute Jozy Altidore tallied in the 87th minute after eluding his defender and Oguchi Onyewu, a defenseman who grew up in the Washington suburbs, scored in the 90th minute to make the final 6-1.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley said he was pleased the way his players moved the ball around against Cuba, and acknowledged when Cuba had to play a man down the visitors faced a difficult challenge.
"If you stick to doing the right things, if you keep moving, if you keep finding little seams, playing the right ball, then you know that over the course of 90 minutes, they won't be able to keep going. And so I think we had that working for us in the second half, and again that's helped by the fact that a guy [Cuban player] gets sent off right before halftime," he said.
The lopsided win puts the U.S. soccer team into the final round of World Cup qualifying from the North, Central America and Caribbean region, even though the Americans still have two semifinal round matches remaining.
Next year's final group will include six regional teams, from which three will qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.