WASHINGTON (AFP) — DaMarcus Beasley scored two goals and the United States clinched a berth in next year's six-team World Cup 2010 regional qualifying tournament Saturday with a 6-1 romp over political rival Cuba.
The Americans improved to 4-0 in Group A to secure a spot in the final phase of North American qualifying, where three berths in South Africa will be decided. The Cubans fell to 0-4, all but ending their hopes to advance.
"We wanted to do it with a good strong team performance, and I think that was the case," US coach Bob Bradley said. "We felt good about the way we moved the ball around."
Since Bradley took over in January of last year, the US squad is 18-7 with three drawn and veterans like Bradley see a strong nucleus building with an eye to South Africa in 2010.
"We've been together for a year and a half now," Beasley said. "We've got a lot of work to do but we were happy with the chances we created."
Beasley opened the scoring in the 10th minute. The Glasgow Rangers striker took a pass from Sacha Kljestan, outraced a defender on the left side of the penalty area and left-footed the ball past Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina.
"Sacha played a great ball to me," Beasley said. "The only thing I thought was to shoot far post."
Beasley scored again in the 30th minute, beating Molina from 10 meters out, but the Cubans answered seconds later, Jenzy Munoz finding the goal early in the 32nd minute.
Munoz lofted a chip from just beyond the penalty area that grazed the bottom of the goalpost and dropped in, shocking a crowd of 20,293 at RFK Stadium.
Helpless US goalkeeper Tim Howard of English Premier side Everton could only watch the ball fall across the line, the first goal allowed by the Americans in six World Cup qualifying matches this year.
But Cuban hopes dimmed in the 42nd minute when midfielder Yoel Colome fouled Landon Donovan to draw his second yellow card of the match and an expulsion, leaving the Caribbean side at 10 men to the finish.
"We had a little letdown after we scored the second goal," Bradley said. "We felt we could come out in the second half and re-establish control."
Donovan nearly struck in the 44th minute, chipping across the front of the goal after faking Molina off his feet, and then found the net in the 48th minute from point blank range to give the Americans a 3-1 edge.
Brian Ching added a goal in the 63rd minute and Jozy Altidore, who plays at Spain's Villarreal, netted another in the 87th minute. US defender Oguchi Onyewu finished the scoring in the 90th minute to complete the rout.
"When you are a man up and they start getting tired, that's when you want to make them pay," Bradley said.
The US men improved to 7-1-1 all-time against their Communist nation rivals.
Cuba lost two players to apparent defections earlier in the week. Forward Luis Alcantara, 26, and midfielder Pedro Faife, 24, were absent from the lineup. Faife had 46 caps, 10 more than Alcantara.
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