[JAMAICA-USA] If the USA qualifies for the 2014 World Cup, it will have turned the corner with its stunning 2-1 victory over Jamaica Friday in Kingston, where
it had never won its five previous qualifiers.
The USA blew a 1-0 lead against Jamaica and lost, 2-1, the last time they met at the Office in September 2012. This time it came back after conceding a stunningly easy goal (likely offside) off a free kick with a minute to play in regulation to win for only second time in the Jurgen Klinsmann era after blowing a lead. Friday's victory was also the second time a Klinsmann team won in stoppage time.
The USA beat Slovenia, 3-2, after blowing an early lead in November 2011, and in its next game, the first game of 2012, won, 1-0, on a Ricardo Clark goal in stoppage time against Venezuela.
QUICK RECOVERY. Stealing points with late goals have been the hallmark of the USA through the years on the road in the Concacaf qualifying -- Brian Ching scored in the 89th minute to earn the USA a 1-1 tie in Kingston in 2004 -- and they did it in rapid fashion after Jermaine Beckford's goal in the 89th minute tied the game at 1-1.
Following a counterattack involving Edgar Castillo, Geoff Cameron (making a surprise appearance in midfield after Jermaine Jones' concussion), Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi, the USA was awarded a corner kick. Instead of waiting for Zusi to take it, Bradley played it short to Zusi, who played it back to Bradley, who beat teenager Alvas Powell and found Brad Evans alone at the six-yard line. The Sounders midfielder, converted to right back, was all alone and fired a shot that deflected off a Jamaica defender and into the far post for the winner in the 92nd minute.
ROAD WARRIORS. The USA is the only team to have opened with three of its first four games on the road yet finds itself tied for first place with Costa Rica, which leads on goal difference, and Mexico, which has played one more game.
Calculating the Hexagonal standings on the basis of points won on the road and lost at road, the USA leads with plus-4, ahead of Costa Rica and Mexico at plus-1, Honduras at minus-2, Panama at minus-3 and Jamaica at minus-7.
With seven points and four more games to play at home, the USA will hit 19 points if it wins those four home games -- more than enough to qualify comfortably.
CLOSE CALL. Beckford looked to be offside on his tying goal, but it was close. He checked back, grabbing on to Eddie Johnson, just as the ball was played into the area from the left wing and then pealed back toward the goal to score on an open header past Tim Howard, who had remained on his line.
Replays showed Cameron on the far side as the player who stepped back toward the U.S. goal just as Beckford was stepping toward the U.S. line.
UNLIKELY HERO. Evans was not even on the initial roster Jurgen Klinsmann announced for the June qualifiers, and he had never scored for the USA in nine previous appearances.
Evans should get a hero's welcome when he returns to Seattle on Saturday night. The national team is scheduled to arrive at 5 p.m., and Evans planned to take any of his U.S. teammates who want to go to see his Sounders play Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup in a match that starts at 7:30 p.m.
UNCHANGED LINEUP. The USA fielded the same starting lineup that started in Sunday's 4-3 win over Germany, marking the first time Klinsmann started the same 11 players in two games in a row.
He will need to make at least one change against Panama Tuesday in Seattle. Zusi, who set up Jozy Altidore's opening goal with another killer cross, picked up a yellow card on the foul that led to Beckford's equalizer and will sit out against the Canaleros for yellow-card accumulation.
If Jones sits out Tuesday's game, it will mark the third straight time he has missed the second game of back-to-back qualifiers. He was suspended for the deciding semifinal round game against Guatemala after being carded in Antigua & Barbuda for a handball, and he suffered a leg wound against Costa Rica that kept him out of the Mexico game in March.
June 7 in Kingston
Jamaica 1 USA 2. Goal: Altidore 30, Evans 90+2; Beckford 89.
Jamaica -- Ricketts; Powell, Mariappa, Gordon, Woodbine; McCleary (O.Daley 75), Austin, Elliott, Hue (Beckford 70); J.Johnson (Robinson 67), R.Johnson.
USA -- Howard; Evans, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley; Jones (Cameron 59), Bradley; Zusi, Dempsey, F.Johnson (Castillo 76); Altidore (E.Johnson 83).
Yellow cards: USA -- Zusi 88, Evans 90+2.
Referee: Roberto Moreno (Panama).
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/-
7 Costa Rica 2-1-1 6/4
7 USA 2-1-1 4/3
7 Mexico 1-4-0 3/2
6 Panama 1-3-0 5/3
4 Honduras 1-1-2 4/6
2 Jamaica 0-2-3 2/6
Friday, June 7
Panama 0 Mexico 0
Costa Rica 1 Honduras 0
Tuesday, June 11
Mexico vs. Costa Rica
Honduras vs. Jamaica
USA vs. Honduras
Tuesday, June 18
USA vs. Honduras
Costa Rica vs. Panama