8. World Cup qualifier; Columbus, Ohio; Sept. 3, 2005: US 2, Mexico 0
For each side, this was as close to a final as possible. With a win, the U.S. or Mexico would have clinched a spot in the 2006 World Cup. For the match, the Americans turned to Columbus Crew Stadium, site of their qualifying triumph over Mexico four years prior. But this time around the weather was not a factor. Instead, it was the Americans’ game that stood out. With the match scoreless in the 53rd minute, Eddie Lewis sent a ball into the area on a free kick. The ball bounced around in the box, caromed off the post and straight out to Steve Ralston on the goal line who easily tapped the ball across the goal line. A few minutes later, DaMarcus Beasley slipped a ball past Oswaldo Sanchez on a corner kick and the U.S. doubled their lead. The Americans hung on to win and clinch a spot in the 2006 World Cup at the expense of Mexico, the first time in modern history that the Americans accomplished that feat.
United States: Kasey Keller; Frankie Hejduk, Oguchi Onyewu, Gregg Berhalter, Eddie Lewis; Steve Ralston (Santino Quaranta, 81), Claudio Reyna, Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley; Landon Donovan (Pablo Mastroeni, 74), Brian McBride (Jeff Cunningham, 90+)
Mexico: Oswaldo Sanchez; Francisco Rodriguez (Mario Mendez, 59), Rafael Marquez, Duilio Davino, Carlos Salcido; Gerardo Torrado, Ramon Morales, Gerardo Galindo, Antonio Naelson “Zinha” (Omar Bravo, 69), Francisco Fonseca (Alberto Medina, 58), Jared Borgetti
US – Ralston 53
US – Beasley 58