USA qualifies for World Cup after 2-0 win over Mexico
El Paso, TX — In front of a raucous capacity crowd of 24,584 at Columbus Crew Stadium, the U.S. Men's National Team defeated Mexico 2-0 in 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying to earn its berth to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The victory, combined with Honduras tying Panama 2-2 in Tegucigalpa an hour later, provided the USA its seventh-consecutive FIFA World Cup berth and 10th overall.
USA vs. Mexico, presented by AT&T, was billed as the most anticipated match of the Hexagonal, and the U.S. did not disappoint. For the fourth-consecutive time during a World Cup Qualifying cycle, the USA defeated Mexico 2-0 at Crew Stadium.
"They're experienced players, they've played these games before and they know what these games are about," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said of his team, which was playing without several key players to injury or yellow card accumulation. "I told them over the last couple days that I expect their leadership. I expect them to carry us through difficult moments, whatever happens."
Eddie Johnson scored the 19th goal of his career and 12th tally in World Cup Qualifying, knifing through the center of the penalty area to smash home a header off a Landon Donovan corner kick in the 49th minute. Donovan clinched the game - and sealed the now-famous score line - in the 78th minute.
The USA came with inches of winning 3-0, but captain Clint Dempsey struck a penalty kick just outside the right post in second half stoppage time after he was taken down in the right side of the penalty box following a nifty dribble.
The U.S. Men's National team has set a new record for victories in a calendar year with 14, improving to 14-3-2 in 2013 and topping the previous record of 13 wins set in 2005 and 2009.
The U.S. resumes 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying when it hosts Jamaica on Oct. 11 in Kansas City, Kan. Kickoff at Sporting Park is set for 5:30 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas and ESPN Deportes Radio.
Four days later, the USA completes the Hexagonal when it faces Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. Coverage on beIN SPORT begins at 10 p.m. ET. Fans can follow both matches live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.
A desperate Mexico team fighting for its World Cup life came out with energy at the beginning of the match, but the USA soon settled into the game, and several solid stops from goalkeeper Tim Howard sent the teams scoreless into halftime.
The U.S. changed the match early in the second half off Donovan's corner kick from the right side. Mexican goalkeeper Jesús Corona rushed off of his line to try an intercept the service, but he was too late. As Clarence Goodson created a path for Johnson, the U.S. striker fended off Mexico's Diego Reyes and crisply headed the ball past Mexico defender Fernando Arce, who could not react quickly enough to clear the ball away with his right foot.
In the 78th minute, Donovan crushed Mexico's hopes and stamped the USA's tickets to Brazil off a brilliant assist from Mix Diskerud. The 76th-minute sub chipped the ball to himself in the right side of the penalty area, beat a defender with a touch toward the end line and sent a service on the ground across the face of the goal. Dempsey got a piece of the ball, re-directing it just enough that it evaded the goalkeeper and a defender, and Donovan roofed his shot from four yards out into the empty net. The goal gave Donovan six in his career against Mexico.
With the goal and an assist, Donovan broke his U.S. MNT points record for a calendar year with 24 in 2013 (eight goals, eight assists), besting his previous points mark of 22 in 2007 (nine goals, four assists).
Mexico was playing its first match under Luis Fernando Tena, who replaced fired head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre. The visitors created the majority of the scoring chances in the first half but faded in the second half as the Americans turned up the pressure in front of a partisan, screaming crowd. Howard logged yet another game in which he led from the back, making three saves on the way to the clean sheet, the 32nd of his career, tied for second-most with 1990 and 1994 World Cup starter Tony Meola.
Howard's key stops included a dive to his right turn away a Christian Gimenez left-footed strike in the 19th minute and a lunging save against Giovani Dos Santos in the 44th minute. He also turned away a Diego Reyes header in first-half stoppage time.
• Landon Donovan increased his U.S. record of caps in World Cup Qualifying to 36. He appeared in his 16th match against Mexico.
• Donovan made the 153rd appearance of his career, moving to within nine caps of the all-time record of 164 set by Cobi Jones.
• Eddie Johnson's goal was his fifth in 2013 and his 12 World Cup Qualifying goals have come in only 21 matches.
• DaMarcus Beasley made his team-leading 14th appearance in 2013 and the 111th appearance of his career, moving up the all-time list to sixth place and passing Carlos Bocanegra and Paul Caligiuri (110 caps each). Beasley is now one cap behind fifth-place Claudio Reyna (112).
• USA captain Clint Dempsey earned his 101st cap and is tied for 11th all-time with Earnie Stewart. Dempsey was honored before Tuesday's game for aring 100 caps when he became the 14th player to accomplish that feat with a start on Sept. 6 against Costa Rica.
• The win marked Tim Howard's 51st victory and he sits just two behind Kasey Keller's record of 53.
• Eddie Johnson leads the 2013 squad with 15 appearances this year. He now has 59 career caps.
• Fabian Johnson started at right back for the first time since Aug. 15, 2012, in the historic 1-0 win against Mexico, the USA's first on Mexican soil.
• Late in the first half, Johnson strained his left hamstring, prompting head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to bring in Michael Parkhurst to start the second half.
• Alejandro Bedoya made his second start against Mexico in official competitions, having played the same role in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final.
• USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann moves to 25-9-6 since taking the coaching reins in 2011. He becomes the fifth USA coach to earn 25 victories, joining Bruce Arena (71-30-29), Bob Bradley (43-25-12), Bora Milutinovic (30-35-31) and Steve Sampson (26-22-14).
• Klinsmann has used 37 players in World Cup qualifying. Dempsey is the most-capped with 14 games and leads in goals with eight. Six different players have scored a goal and 20 players have earned their first WCQ caps.
• Since 2000, the USA has posted a 12-5-4 record against Mexico, including a 10-2-3 record at home during that span. The U.S. is now 17-32-13 all-time against Mexico.
• The USA is now 7-0-3 all-time at Columbus Crew Stadium.