Beasley leads rout of depleted Cuba
Spurred on by its two veteran goal scorers, the U.S. national team took a big step toward the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with a 6-1 rout over Cuba before 20,293 at RFK Stadium on Saturday night.
DaMarcus Beasley scored two goals in the win, while Landon Donovan tallied a goal and an assist. Brian Ching, Jozy Altidore and Oguchi Onyewu also added goals in the semifinal-round World Cup qualifier.
The victory advanced the United States (4-0-0, 12 points) to the final round of qualifying in 2009, with two games remaining in the semifinal round.
“That was our goal,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “We wanted to do it with a strong performance.”
Beasley and Donovan have the most goals among active U.S. players. Donovan took his all-time goal-scoring record to 37 in 105 games, while Beasley now has 17 goals in 81 games.
“It’s always great to play with Landon,” Beasley said. “We know each other inside out on the field.”
The only blemish was Cuba’s goal, which snapped a six-game shutout streak for the U.S. team that included five Cup qualifiers.
The Cubans dressed only 16 players after two veterans went missing from the team’s Arlington hotel on Friday and were presumed to have defected. Adding to its woes, Cuba was forced to play with 10 men for half of the game after Yoel Colome was sent off in the 41st minute.
Playing at RFK for the first time in four years, the Americans took the lead on a fine goal from Beasley in the 10th minute. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who plays for Chivas USA, sent a perfect pass to Beasley as he was rushing into the 18-yard box. The Glasgow Rangers player placed the ball from 8 yards out past Cuban goalie Silvio Minoso to make it 1-0.
Twenty minutes later, Beasley scored his second on the night when once again he beat the Cuban backline and calmly converted a long pass from Donovan from 10 yards out.
“Landon played me a great ball,” Beasley said. “I looked up and the keeper didn’t see me, and I finished it off.”
Two minutes later, Cuba’s Jenzy Munoz stunned the partisan crowd with a shot from the 18 yards, catching goalie Tim Howard off his line.
“We had a little let down after the second goal,” Bradley said.
Cuba had little time to celebrate. The team went down a man just before the break when Colome earned his second yellow card for a nasty tackle on Donovan.
Donovan put the game out of reach in the 48th minute when he tapped home Heath Pearce’s cross. The United States outshot Cuba 18-4.
Beasley nearly finished a hat trick in 59th minute, but Minoso made a fine save. Ching then cherry-picked a goal, scoring on a close-range header to make it 4-1. Altidore added a late goal in 88th minute off a pass from Clint Dempsey.
But it was still not over, and in the last minute of regulation time Olney native Onyewu headed home a fine cross from former D.C. United midfielder Freddy Adu.
Jose Fernando Torres, who plays for Mexican club Pachuca, made his U.S. team debut in the 68th minute as a substitute. Only last week did the Texan decide to cast his lot in with the U.S. team rather than Mexico.
“We are very excited he chose to play for the United States,” Bradley said.
The U.S. team is now 11-3-4 at RFK, including a 4-1-1 in World Cup qualifying.