American Heroes! USA Headed to FIFA 2006 World Cup in Germany With 2-0 Victory Over Mexico

COLUMBUS Ohio (From – The U.S. Men’s National Team earned a berth to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany with a 2-0 victory against Mexico this evening in front of a raucous sold-out crowd of 24685 fans at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus Ohio.

After a scoreless first half Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley scored in a six-minute span to qualify the U.S. for their fifth consecutive World Cup.

This is the first time since 1934 that the U.S. was the first team from the CONCACAF region to qualify for the World Cup as Mexico was unable to clinch with the defeat. The U.S. became the eighth country to qualify for the 32-team FIFA World Cup joining host Germany Japan Iran South Korea Saudi Arabia Argentina and Ukraine which also qualified today. The draw for the 2006 FIFA World Cup will be held on December 9 in Leipzig Germany.

With the victory the U.S. sits atop the hexagonal at 18 points two ahead of Mexico with three matches still left to play in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying. The U.S. will travel to Guatemala City on Monday in preparation for the game against Guatemala at Estadio Mateo Flores on Wednesday (live at 8 p.m. MT on ESPN2).

"The top two teams in CONCACAF are the U.S. and Mexico. We had the one blemish on our record in the first part of the final round when we lost in Mexico City said U.S. manager Bruce Arena who advanced to his second straight World Cup while increasing his home qualifying record to 14-1-2. "It’s nice to get that back and it’s obviously very special to qualify at home and against our arch rival."

After both teams struggled to find a rhythm in the first half the U.S. broke the scoreless deadlock off a free kick from the right sideline in the 53rd minute. Eddie Lewis served the ball to the back post where Onyewu was able to rise over his defender and headed the ball off the left post. The ball deflected across the goalmouth past Sanchez to the right side and Ralston had an easy tap-in to push it to the back of the net. The goal was Ralston’s fourth with the MNT and his second during 2006 World Cup qualifying.

Five minutes later the U.S. doubled their lead as Beasley started and finished off a perfectly executed corner kick. Beasley played a short corner to Landon Donovan and he pushed the ball back near the corner of the penalty box to Claudio Reyna. With one touch the U.S. captain slipped the ball into the right side of the penalty box for a streaking Beasley who collected the ball about eight yards out and curled a left-footed shot over the outstretched arm Sanchez and into the left side netting.

The U.S. defense held staunch during the entire match as Greg Berhalter and Onyewu shutdown most of the Mexican attack up the middle. Mexico got off only seven shots during the match only two of which were on goal.

The most taxing attempt at Keller came just before the end of the first half when Mexico won a free kick at the top of the box. Ramon Morales hit a curling 25-yard free kick towards the lower-left corner but Keller was able to stretch out and get a hand on the ball to knock it out for a corner kick.

The victory was Keller’s 50th in international play with the U.S. giving him an astonishing 44 shutouts in 88 career caps. The victory was Keller’s fifth straight shutout in qualifying giving him a 507-minute shutout streak which dates back all the way to the USA’s last meeting with Mexico a 2-1 loss on March 27.

"We qualified pretty comfortably in 1998 but really made it difficult on ourselves last time said Keller who now has a total of 19 shutouts in World Cup qualifying a team record. "This time when we've needed the results we've got 'em and we ended up doing it comfortably. It always means a lot to beat Mexico. To beat Mexico to qualify to finish this thing off and to beat them comfortably 2-0 is even better. It just makes it better."

The U.S. which has not lost at home to Mexico in a World Cup qualifier since 1972 increased its overall qualifying record on home soil to 29-6-11. The U.S. has lost only one home qualifier in 20 years a 3-2 loss to Honduras on Sept. 1 2001. Prior to that the U.S. had not dropped a home qualifier since May 31 1985 a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica in Torrance Calif.

Since 2000 the U.S. has collected a 6-0-1 home record against Mexico netting 11 goals while conceding zero.

Reyna and Berhalter will not be available for the match against Guatemala as they both received a yellow card their second cautions during qualifying and will serve an automatic one-match suspension.

Jeff Cunningham got his first qualifying cap coming on in reserve for Brian McBride during injury time.

In the other two matches in the hexagonal Trinidad & Tobago got two late goals from Stern John for a dramatic 3-2 victory against Guatemala to keep their World Cup hopes alive while Costa Rica took over sole possession of third place with a 3-1 victory against Panama.

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report –

Match-up: USA vs. Mexico
Date: September 3 2005
Competition: FIFA World Cup qualifier
Venue: Columbus Crew Stadium – Columbus Ohio
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 24685
Weather: Warm 74 degrees

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
MEX 0 0 0

USA – Steve Ralston (Oguchi Onyewu) 53rd minute.
USA – DaMarcus Beasley (Claudio Reyna) 58.


USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 2-Frankie Hejduk 22-Oguchi Onyewu 3-Gregg Berhalter 7-Eddie Lewis; 19-Steve Ralston (23-Santino Quaranta 81) 10-Claudio Reyna (capt.) 14-Chris Armas 17-DaMarcus Beasley; 21-Landon Donovan (25-Pablo Mastroeni 74) 20-Brian McBride (11-Jeff Cunningham 90+)
Subs not used: 1-Marcus Hahnemann 4-Carlos Bocanegra 12-Jimmy Conrad 13-Taylor Twellman
Head Coach: Bruce Arena.

MEX: 1-Oswaldo Sanchez; 2-Francisco Rodriguez (16-Mario Mendez 59) 4-Rafael Marquez (capt.) 5-Duilio Davino 3-Carlos Salcido; 6-Gerardo Torrado 11-Ramon Morales 20-Gerardo Galindo 7-Antonio Naelson (10-Omar Bravo 69) 17-Francisco Fonseca (22-Alberto Medina 58) 9-Jared Borguetti
Subs not used: 12-Moises Munoz 14-Gonzalo Pineda 19-Oscar Rojas 23-Luis Perez
Head Coach: Ricardo Lavolpe

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Claudio Reyna (caution) 24th minute.
MEX – Rafael Marquez (caution) 32.
MEX – Ramon Morales (caution) 53.
MEX – Duilio Davino (caution) 76.
USA – Gregg Berhalter (caution) 83.

Referee: Carlos Batres (GUA)
1st Asst.: Hector Vergara (CAN)
2nd Asst.: Francisco Ortiz (GUA)
Fourth Official: Hugo Castillo (GUA) Man of the Match: Oguchi Onyewu