Posted on September 11, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Desperately needing a victory to boost its standing in CONCACAF Group A and its confidence, the United States recorded a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Jamaica on Tuesday night.
Striker Herculez Gomez converted a free kick in the 55th minute, which turned into the only goal in the encounter at Columbus Crew Stadium.
The victory lifted the Americans (2-1-1, seven points) into the group lead with Guatemala (2-1-1). Third-place Jamaica (2-1-1) trails by goal difference.
The Guatemalans recorded a 1-0 triumph at last place Antigua and Barbuda (0-3-1, one).
Gomez told ESPN2 that the Americans had to regroup after their disappoointing 2-1 loss at Jamaica on Friday.
“It wasn’t our best performance,” he said. “We had to set forth and fly today. It wasn’t always pretty, but I think we did it very well.”
Three points was the bottom line for the U.S. team that faced a must-win situation.
“I think that energy was transmitted to us throughout the week,” Gomez said. “We knew how important they thought it was. We have a lot of experience on this team. I don’t think anybody here took Jamaica for granted. We knew what we were getting into. We weren’t pleased with our performance on Friday and because we weren’t pleased with that performance we were all really excited and chomping at the bit to get at them tonight.”
After the hosts dominated the first half, Gomez broke the ice with a goal off a free kick 10 minutes into the second half at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Rodolph Austin, one of Jamaica’s heroes in its win, mae a rather ill-advised foul on Clint Dempsey some 28 yards out. Gomez curled a right-footed shot toward the upper right corner. Goalkeeper Dwayne Miller got a hand on the ball, but deflected it into the net for Gomez’s fifth international goal and second in this qualifying campaign.
“That’s my distance,” Gomez told ESPN2. “I feel comfortable on the ball on free kicks. Thankfully, coach had confidence in me and so did my teammates. I struck it and it went in. So I’m fortunate it happened.”
After its Friday night loss, U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann made five changes to his starting lineup,
Klinsmann brought in defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson and midfielders Graham Zusi and Jose Torres and sat down defenders Clarence Goodson, serving a yellow-card suspension, Michael Parkhurst and midfielders Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman and forward Jozy Altidore.
“You never want to have that many changes,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “Jose has played a lot and we have a lot of trust in him. Danny is a strong player and we knew we needed that grit and fight. Graham was the one who had a lot of pressure on him to perform. He kept it simple and he really did well getting it to Steve and taking the ball and playing on the inside in rhythm. Although there were a lot of changes, they weren’t massive. They didn’t really shock our system.”
The U.S. did everything but score in the opening 45 minutes. They Americans enjoyed an almost 80 percentage possession advantage as Miller made several key stops and was aided by the the woodwork as well to keep the game scoreless.
In fact, the Reggae Boyz were content on playing for a scoreless draw as they had as many as all 11 players behind the ball.
In the sixth minute, Zusi, off a Steve Cherundolo pass, ripped a shot from the right side off the crossbar. Miller was up to the task in the 20th minute, as he deflected Cherundolo’s cross off the right post.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones fired a shot from distance in the 30th minute that bounded off the left post.
The Reggae Bozy did not threaten many times. They took their first corner kick in the 28th minute, but it was cleared by the defense. Austin tried for the equalizer in the 81st minute but U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard saved his attempt.
“We didn’t put away our chances in the first half, we rattled the bar and the keeper made some saves,” Bocanegra said. “We got the goal we needed, but the only worrying part is wondering if they’re going to sneak some lucky goal at the end of the game. They stepped it up, and we spent a lot of energy attacking before we finally got that goal. They had a decent response, but we held strong.”
The USA will complete the semifinal round at Antigua on Oct. 12 before hosting Guatemala at home four days later.
Jamaica will visit Guatemala on Oct. 12 and host Antigua on Oct. 16.
Photo: Herculez Gomez, battling Lovel Palmer for the ball, struck in the 55th minute for the lone goal of the match. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Caribbean, Jamaica, North America, U.S.A., World Cup Qualifying
Tags: Carlos Bocanegra, Herculez Gomez, Juergen Klinsmann, Reggae Boyz, Rodoph Austin