Big Payback: USA tops Mexico 2-0 to qualify for the 2006 World Cup

By Andrew Dixon, III
Updated: September 4, 2005

MIAMI, FLA.—They talked on TV.

They talked in the press.

About how they had better players.

About how confident they were about winning in the US and qualifying for the World Cup.

About how they wanted to see if the US would actually come out and play.

About how they would easily win this match.

The Mexican National Team spent the most of last week talking about the US-Mexico showdown as if it were a mere formality on their way to qualification for the 2006 World Cup.

Yet in the end, it was the United States of America, playing in front a home crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium, playing with the requisite purpose, dedication, passion and effectiveness to win a superclassico with so much on the line. Its reward was a 2-0 win over their hated rivals that qualified them for their fifth consecutive World Cup, forcing the Mexicans to look elsewhere for the point necessary to qualify.

The US opened up in its regular 4-4-2 lineup without Eddie Johnson, apparently still not 100% and not even on the substitutes bench, but with DaMarcus Beasley, ready to go his customary spot on the left side. Oguchi Onyewu looked to make amends for his match in Mexico City six months earlier by matching up once again against the man who burned him for Mexico’s first goal in that match, Jared Borgetti.

Following a beautiful moment of silence for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the US showed that it had learned from its slow start in Mexico City as they came out and attacked from the jump. They used some quick one touches to advance the ball up the flanks as well as Beasley’s speed to try and break down the defense. Despite dominating play for the first 25 minutes of match, they lacked the creativity to seriously challenge the goal of Oswaldo Sanchez. A shot by Reyna in the 25th minute was comfortably saved, Frankie Hejduk shot off a rebound from 20 yards out was high in the 27th minute and Eddie Lewis’ free kick went harmlessly wide just before halftime.

On the other side, Mexico did absolutely nothing. They were clearly not in the mood to back up all of the trash talk with some actual effort. Their passes were not crisp and they resorted to trying to send long balls to Borgetti who was getting absolutely no room from Onyewu. Rafael Marquez’ 35 yard shot was wide and Keller got down to save a Ramon Morales free kick just before halftime.

Mexico had clearly identified Beasley and Landon Donvan has the US’ danger men. While Donovan was contained throughout the match, the Mexicans took turns trying to hack down Beasley. Rafael Marquez, one of the villans from the 2002 World Cup match, was especially guilty of trying rock Beasley finally earning a deserved yellow card in the 37th minute for kicking Beasley from behind.

Lots of fouls and not enough football from either team and the half ended 0-0.

The US came out with even greater purpose in the 2nd half and before 15 minutes had passed, they had the game won.

Rafael Marquez fouled Brian McBride and set up a free kick opportunity about 35 yards from the Mexican goal. Eddie Lewis sent the ensuing free kick into box where it was met by the 6’4″ Onyewu. His header hit the bottom of the left post but Steve Ralston was there to head home the rebound. 8 minutes into the 2nd half and the US was on its way 1-0.

Marquez tried to get the Mexicans back on the board quickly with a shot that was saved by Keller in the 55th minute but there would be no way back three minutes later.

The US should have made it 2 when Donovan took advantage of some miscommunication to steal the ball from three players and go one on one with the keeper. He couldn’t control his final touch past Sanchez though and the ball was cleared. On the ensuing corner, Donovan, on the right side played it short to Beasley who in turn, found Claudio Reyna. Reyna then floated a beautiful return pass to Beasley in the box. DMB curled his left footed shot past Sanchez into the back of the net and wheeled away to celebrate. 2-0 USA!

Oh and I GOT your Memin Penguin.

The US spent the rest of the game killing the Mexicans off with possession and stellar defense. Oguchi Onyewu completely dominated Borgetti, who came in as Mexico’s all time leading scorer. Gooch consistently beat him to the ball denying him possession and played him physically. Borgetti was reduced to complaining and crying to the ref while being marked out of existence. “I didn’t think he’d cry as much as he did today,” said Onyewu afterwards.

Quit crying, son. (espn)

Quit crying, son. (espn)

It was clear that Onyewu was willing to do the work that even the Mexicans refused to do.

Unlike the game six months ago, the Mexicans were unable to regain any momentum with their bench and were reduced to fouling, most notably through Duilio Davino who should have been sent off for sticking his leg out and kicking DMB as the young brother started racing by him.

Mexico was throughly beaten and their coach was reduced to petty poor sportsmanship by calling the US “..a small team. They play like my sister, my aunt and my grandmother.” Real class from someone who may not have a job by this time next week.

Meanwhile fireworks exploded in the Columbus night sky, the US players wrapped themselves in American flags and the fans rocked Crew stadium as the United States qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. To do so against Mexico made it even sweeter.

The US will now have the opportunity to give some international experience to some younger players and that first test will come Wednesday night in Guatemala City as the US faces off against Carlos Ruiz and the Chapines of Guatemala (3-2 losers to Trinidad and Togago, thanks to two late Stern John goals.)