The United States welcomed Mexico to Crew Stadium on September 3, 2005 with one thing on their mind — World Cup qualification.
The Americans would book a spot in the 2006 World Cup with a win over their rivals and, for the second qualifying cycle in a row, they took the match to Columbus, OH. But this time they didn’t have the cold in their favor and they had been beaten by Mexico just six months earlier, when Jared Borgetti had bullied the U.S. back line and netted the opening goal in Mexico City.
This time around, the U.S. had an enforcer to stand up to Borgetti. Oguchi Onyewu was making just his third national team appearance when the U.S. lost at Estadio Azteca, but when they matched up again, he had months of World Cup qualifiers and a Gold Cup under his belt. He was ready to go and when he and Borgetti got into it just eight minutes into the match he ended up in a scrap with Borgetti. When the Mexican came at him, Onyewu just stared Borgetti down.
In that moment it was clear that the U.S. wouldn’t be bullied by Borgetti or anyone. Onyewu was their brick wall at the back and if you wanted to mess with the 6-foot-4, 200 lbs. defender, you did so at your own peril.
And after Onyewu had spent 90 minutes manhandling Borgetting and taking Mexico’s best striker out of the match, the final whistle went. The U.S. had won 2-0, again, and with American flags draped over their shoulder and fireworks exploding overhead, celebrated a spot in the 2006 World Cup.