Alvin Rouse will not be going to South Africa in 2010 to play in the World Cup.
There was never really much possibility of that anyway, what with Rouse being the starting goalkeeper for one of international soccer’s minnow nations: Barbados.
But Rouse can at least say that he had his moment or two in the sun. They came at the Home Depot Center on Sunday, where the U.S. routed Barbados, 8-0, to start its own 18-game qualifying run to the next World Cup.
The eight-goal victory set a record. No U.S. men’s soccer team has ever won by a larger margin.
The outcome was never in doubt. The Americans scored their first goal after 54 seconds, they led, 3-0, by the half, and had doubled that score when Eddie Johnson rocketed home a header in the 82nd minute.
After Brian Ching smashed in his second goal of the game seven minutes later, Rouse just sat on the ground in front of his net, staring into space, or perhaps up at the stadium’s giant screen, watching to see how badly the defenders in front of him had let him down.
“I was saying, ‘Oh, God, I can’t believe this is really happening,’ ” Rouse, 26, said. “It’s really disheartening seeing the balls go in the net, but you still have to keep your composure.”
But the game also gave Rouse, who plays his club soccer for Galway United in Ireland, the chance to show that he isn’t as bad a goalkeeper as the score would indicate.
Two second-half saves that he made were out of the top drawer. First, he saved a sharp header from towering U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu off a Landon Donovan corner kick. Then he smothered a shot by Eddie Lewis.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to him,” said U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan. “In a situation like that, it’s not easy. To be able to make the saves that he did helped his team keep the score down.
“As a goalkeeper you just try to concentrate on the next play. You put the last goal behind you and you just try to keep it to three goals conceded, or four, or five, or whatever it might be.
“It takes a toll on you mentally, but as a goalkeeper it’s part of your job. I’ve had some games where the goals keep coming and you feel like you’re stranded out there.
“It’s tough, but you deal with it and you put it behind you and you move on.”
In addition to the goal by Johnson and the two by Ching, Clint Dempsey scored twice, Michael Bradley and Donovan had a goal, and there was one own goal by Barbados.
When the final whistle sounded, Johnson went over to Rouse and the pair slapped hands. Rouse then shook hands with the match officials and several U.S. players, with Dempsey giving Rouse his game jersey.
It was a souvenir to take back to Barbados, where the teams play each other again next Sunday.
U.S. vs. Barbados, Sunday at Bridgetown, Barbados, noon, ESPN Classic, Galavision