June 15, 2008
By Michael Lewis
U.S. eliminates doubts with 8-0 rout
Carson, Calif. -- The U.S. National Team will fly to Barbados Friday knowing that it will take a collapse of historic proportions not to reach the next round of World Cup qualifying.
|Landon Donovan’s free kick goal sparked the U.S. to an 8-0 rout over Barbados.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Then again, the Americans made some history of their own yesterday, connecting for a team-record eight goals in an 8-0 demolition of the Caribbean side in the first leg of the total goals, CONCACAF series.
Clint Dempsey and Brian Ching each had two goals for the Americans, who all but qualified for the semifinal round, most likely against the likes of Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago or Bermuda, and Cuba.
"I think we felt confident that as the game wore on fitness was going to be an issue," said midfielder Landon Donovan, who scored one memorable goal. "With each goal a little easier. We wanted to make sure we ended it here. We didn't want to go there having any doubts."
There certainly are none now.
The U.S.'s domination was nothing short of absurd, enjoying a 22-2 shot advantage, including 14 shots on goal and none by the visitors. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, playing in place of the injured Tim Howard (lower back strain) did not have to make a save.
“We were the better team today and we knew that our job was to go out and win decisively," Dempsey said. "The more goals that we can get the more of a cushion it gives us going to Barbados. You can never take a team too lightly and we just wanted to make sure we put ourselves in a good position for the next game."
The two most important goals were the Americans' first and fourth before a crowd of 11,476 at The Home Depot Center.
Dempsey's first goal only 53 seconds into the match, the fastest in men's national team history, lifted some of the pressure off the Americans' shoulders early on. Defender Carlos Bocanegra sent a ball into the penalty area that Dempsey trapped and placed past goalkeeper Alvin Rouse.
"If you get into the 20th or 30th minute and you haven't scored, then you start rushing," Donovan said. "Getting that was huge."
Added Ching: "Clint opened them up in the first minute and made it easy. It put them on their heels right off the bat."
After Michael Bradley, the coach's son, scored in a goal-mouth scramble off a rebound of a Ching shot the 12th minute, and Ching deflected Pablo Mastroeni's long-range shot in the 20th minute, Donovan struck for the other key goal. Even though the U.S. held a 3-0 advantage, it hadn't forced the action that much for nearly 40 minutes.
So, after Barbados defender Bryan Neblett fouled Freddy Adu some 30 yards out in the 59th minute, Donovan told referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez of Mexico that the U.S. did not want to wait for the whistle on the free kick.
"So he got the ball, made sure we were set and he said you can play if you want," said Donovan, who lofted a shot into the left corner while Barbados was still forming a defensive wall.
"We talked about all week about making the game fast," Donovan said. "If you can do those things, they can turn off for a second."
It woke up the U.S.
Only four minutes later, the U.S. increased its lead to five goals as Dempsey slotted home the rebound of a Ching shot from 10 yards for a 5-0 advantage.
Eddie Johnson, who came on for Donovan in the 81st minute, made his presence felt barely a minute later as he headed in a Heath Pearce cross from the left-wing past Rouse for the sixth goal.
Ching appeared to have added his second goal, off an Eddie Lewis assist, in the 86th minute, but it was changed to an own goal -- by Barbados' Daryl Ferguson.
Ching finally scored his second goal in the 89th minute off a Steve Cherundolo assist.
If the U.S. plans to put the brakes on, they haven't said they have any.
“We'll have the same approach for the game in Barbados - we come out to win," Pearce said. "Though we do have a bit of padding, we have no reason to slack off. We still need to develop as a team and we still need to learn.”
Barbados is still a developing team as well.
In three qualifying matches against the U.S., Barbados has been outscored, 19-0 (the Americans recorded 7-0 and 4-0 wins in 2000 during qualifying for the 2002 World Cup).
"Yes, we have a big hole. all we can do is just perform for the fans back home," Rouse said. "All of our fans will be watching the game. . . . We have to take the game to the states."