The U.S. national team's path to the 2010 World Cup got off to a rousing start as the USA tore apart Barbados 8-0 in a World Cup qualifying match at The Home Depot Center on Sunday afternoon.
The eight-goal edge was the largest margin of victory ever for the U.S.
Clint Dempsey and Brian Ching each scored a pair of goals while Michael Bradley, Donovan and Eddie Johnson also scored for the United States. The USA's seventh goal came on a late own goal.
The series moves to Barbados on June 22. For the United States not advance to the semifinal round, Barbados needs to win by at least eight goals.
The United States featured four starters who ply their trade in Major League Soccer: goalkeeper Brad Guzan of Chivas USA, midfielder Pablo Mastroeni of Colorado, midfielder Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy and forward Brian Ching of Houston. Of the other seven players, four played in MLS before heading to Europe.
The goals came early and often. Dempsey started the rout with a goal in the first minute. U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra sent a ball over the Barbados backline and into Dempsey's path. The former Revolution standout collected the ball and knocked it past Barbados 'keeper Alvin Rouse.
It was fitting that Dempsey scored the USA's first goal in World Cup qualifying. It was Dempsey, the former MLS Rookie of the Year, who bagged the only goal the U.S. scored on its own in the 2006 World Cup with a vicious strike against Ghana.
Ching had a pair of early chances but was unable to score. First, he sent a shot high over the crossbar. Minutes later, Rouse turned Ching's close-range attempt away.
However, the U.S. struck gold on the second opportunity. After the rebound, Michael Bradley charged in and slipped the rebound into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead after 12 minutes.
In the 20th minute, the U.S. struck yet again. On a short corner kick, Donovan carried the ball across the top of the penalty area and slipped a pass to Mastroeni. The Colorado Rapids' skipper unleashed a shot on goal. The ball deflected off Ching and settled into the back of the net.
Ching was credited with his sixth career U.S. goal.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley made his first substitution in the 26th minute as Freddy Adu replaced Mastroeni in the center of midfield. Mastroeni came off with a muscle strain.
Michael Bradley had a pair of opportunities to widen the lead to four goals but misfired. He sailed a close-range header over the crossbar in the 30th minute. In the 38th minute, he tested the Barbados goal from 20 yards out but his shot went over the crossbar.
Donovan scored the fourth goal on a somewhat bizarre set piece in the 59th minute. Adu was fouled some 30 yards out. As Barbados tried to organize themselves, referee Marco Antonio Rodriguez waved for the U.S. to take the set piece. With the Barbados defense still trying to sort itself out, Donovan floated the ball into the left corner of the net.
Donovan, who earned his 101st cap, scored for the 36th time in a U.S. uniform.
Dempsey then collected his second goal of the match in the 63rd minute. Bradley played a ball to Ching inside the penalty area and the Dynamo forward ripped a shot on goal. Rouse parried the ball away but Dempsey knocked the rebound into the back of the goal.
Ching had a goal disallowed in the 73rd minute. Eddie Lewis, who replaced Dempsey moments earlier, powered a header on goal but Rouse made the save. Ching pounced on the rebound and slipped it into the back of the net but the assistant referee's flag went up for offside.
Former Kansas City striker Johnson replaced Donovan in the 80th minute. Two minutes later, Johnson scored. Heath Pearce sent a cross in from the left side and Johnson easily powered a header into the back of the net.
Johnson's goal was his fifth qualifying goal in his eighth appearance in qualifying.
Lewis fired a cross into the box in the 84th minute but a Barbados defender deflected the ball into his own goal.
Ching completed the scoring, finally getting his second goal of the game two minutes from time when he finished off a cross from Cherundolo.
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.