Correction to This Article
This article misidentified the Cuban goalkeeper. He was Odelin Molina, not Silvio Miñoso.

U.S., Bradley Enjoy an Easy Night

Beating Cuba Secures Spot in Next Round of World Cup Qualifying: United States 6, Cuba 1

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 12, 2008; Page D01

The U.S. national soccer team's return to RFK Stadium after a four-year absence was almost everything Coach Bob Bradley and the noisy gathering of 20,293 could have hoped.

The 6-1 victory over Cuba not only secured passage to the final round of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, it provided a stage for DaMarcus Beasley to exhibit his dynamic skills on the international stage again and for Landon Donovan to orchestrate the attack with blinding results.

It allowed Jose Francisco Torres, a Mexican-American midfielder who had his choice of countries to represent, to make his debut, for Potomac's Freddy Adu to contribute close to home and for Olney's Oguchi Onyewu to cap a stirring second half with a late goal.

The Americans improved to 4-0 in group play, and with two inconsequential matches remaining, Bradley can test young players and expand his player pool before the six-team final round begins in February.

"We wanted to go out there and show we can dominate," team captain Carlos Bocanegra said. "It took a little bit longer, but sometimes that happens."

Beasley, who overcame a serious knee injury to return to the national team this past summer, scored twice in the first 30 minutes. Cuba (0-4) responded two minutes later, but a red card just before halftime left the visitors shorthanded. They were undermanned before the match started after two players went missing from their Crystal City hotel and presumably plan to defect.

Donovan had a goal and an assist, but it was his interplay with Beasley and his ball distribution, which created seven quality scoring chances, that sparkled.

"Obviously, [advancing] was the goal, but we also felt strongly that we wanted to do it with a good, strong team performance," Bradley said.

In the meeting between the teams last month, the Americans spent much of the first half absorbing pressure and finding their footing on the spongy field in Havana before taking the lead in the 40th minute. Last night's start unfolded in the opposite manner as the U.S. team seized the initiative.

After Donovan created a pair of chances, Sacha Kljestan, one of only four MLS players on the roster, set up Beasley for his first U.S. goal in 16 months. Brian Ching's challenge on a high ball forced an errant header by a Cuban player. Kljestan took possession and threaded an entry pass between defenders to the accelerating Beasley. With Reysander Fernandez unable to catch up, Beasley lashed an angled, 10-yard shot into the far side-netting.

Twenty minutes of U.S. pressure later, Beasley struck again. This time, he timed his run perfectly, slipping covertly behind Yoel Colomé, to chest down Donovan's pass over the top of the Cuban defense. Moving to his right, he slammed a 10-yarder past onrushing goalkeeper Odelin Molina for his 17th goal in 81 international appearances.

The rout was under way. Or so it seemed. Showing no signs of attacking prowess, Cuba stunned the Americans less than two minutes later when Jenzy Muñoz collected the ball between Beasley and Michael Bradley, and without any run-up, stabbed a 23-yard shot over goalie Tim Howard. The goal ended the Americans' scoreless streak at 582 minutes, which began in the late stage of the 1-0 loss at Spain on June 4.

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