By Money Mike
With just under two minutes to go plus stoppage time, it appeared that Jamaica was on route to its third straight World Cup Qualifying defeat and the U.S. were on its way to its first ever World Cup Qualifying win in Kingston (believe it or not). But after the Reggae Boyz equalized late in the match, it appeared the Americans were gonna walk away with a disappointing result going into the match against Panama on June 11th, which of course will take place here in Seattle. But an unlikely hero stepped up in stoppage time. Brad Evans, who was making his second straight start at Right Back for the U.S., came through with one of the biggest goals of his career as he scored the game winner to salvage all three points for the U.S. in a 2-1 victory of Jamaica. The American are now sitting in a three way tie for first place with Mexico and Costa in the Hexagonal table with seven points. Costa Rica is currently sitting on top of the group with a +2 goal difference while the U.S. sits in second by virtue of goals scored. Again the top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. While the fourth-placed team will face New Zealand (winner of the Oceania qualifier) in a home and away playoff for one of the final spots in the World Cup.
USA came out attacking right from the start and they should've been 1-nil up in the 2nd minute. Graham Zusi's cross sailed over the head of Clint Dempsey, but it was cleared poorly by Alvas Powell. Jermaine Jones stepped up and hit it first time and it hit his own teammate and fell to Michael Bradley who his it on the half volley, right on the sweet spot, had goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts beat but it comes off the post and Jamaica dodge an early bullet.
Two minutes later, Jermaine Jones played a good long diagonal ball to Fabian Johnson on the near side. Johnson cut inside of Power and got the shot away before one of the Reggae Boyz had any chance to slide in and break up the play, but Donovan Ricketts got down and made the save.
Now we're gonna fast forward to the 30th minute, when the United States continued to press and this time would make it count. Graham Zusi got around O'Brian Woodbine and whipped in a very good driven ball into the six-yard area where he had two blue shirts and getting on the end of it, unmarked was Jozy Altidore with a snap header to put the U.S. ahead 1-0 in Kingston. It was Jozy's 15th international goal and his second in as many caps after only recording one goal in the Klinsmann era, which of course came from the penalty spot in USA's 3-2 win over Slovenia back on November 15, 2011.
In the 38th minute, USA nearly got pegged back. Ryan Johnson lifted the ball over the head of Omar Gonzalez and found Rodolph Austin, who brought it down and tried to slot it inside the far corner with the outside of his foot, but the post saves the Americans. Shortly after, Jermaine Johnson had a go but he missed well wide of goal.
In the 49th minute, Jamaica continued to push for the equalizer. Jermaine Johnson cut inside of Fabian Johnson and drove one low and hard, but wide as well. Johnson's been causing a lot of havoc on the right hand side for Jamaica and made life really difficult for the U.S. even though they've dodged a lot of bullets from him. I think one of the big mistakes that Jamican coach Theodore Whitmore made was replacing 'Jermaine' Johnson with Theo Robinson in the 68th minute because they lost some creativity on the right hand side since that move.
In the 50th minute, nearly got burned with a long distance effort. Garath McCleary played the ball back to Rodolph Austin, who was given so much room to take a touch and crank from well outside and he didn't miss by much. Michael Bradley tried to close him down, but he was too late. That's why you can not give the opposition that much room, especially Austin because he really can hit em' from outside with a lot of power.
Moving on to the 89th minute, the Reggae Boyz came through with the equalizer. After Graham Zusi committed a foul in his own half, which also resulted in a yellow card, Rodolph Austin curled his free kick to the six yard area and found an unmarked Jermaine Beckford and all he needed to do was get a head to it and that's exactly what he did as he snapped it inside Tim Howard's left hand post and the U.S. appeared to have let two points slip away with a minute to go plus stoppage time. I don't know how the linesman didn't see it and obviously none of the U.S. players had their hands raised, protesting to the officials, but it looked like when the ball was chipped into the box, Beckford was in an offside position. But the linesman didn't see it, the goal stood and Jamaica leveled things up at 1-1. By the way, that yellow card on Zusi will keep him out of USA's next qualifying match on Tuesday against Panama.
In the second minute of stoppage time, just when you thought all was lost, Brad Evans stepped up and came through with a late winner. Michael Bradley played a short corner and got the return pass from Graham Zusi. Bradley cut to his left foot, slid the ball into the area for Evans and here's what happened.....
Big win for the U.S. in Kingston in the first of three qualifying matches in June. Many people believe the U.S. need to get seven points out of these three matches. So far they have three, now it's time to get ready for the Panama match on June 11th here in Seattle. And of course, I'm gonna be there....
United States - Jozy Altidore (Graham Zusi) 30'
Jamaica - Jermaine Beckford (Rodolph Austin) 89'
United States - Brad Evans (Michael Bradley) 92'+
United States - Graham Zusi (caution; foul)* 89'
United States - Brad Evans (caution; excessive celebration) 91'+
* - Will miss USA's next match on June 11th against Panama
United States - Tim Howard; Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley; Graham Zusi, Jermaine Jones (Geoff Cameron 59'), Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson (Edgar Castillo 14'); Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore (Eddie Johnson 83')
Jamaica - Donovan Ricketts; Alvas Powell, Daniel Gordon, Adrian Mariappa, O'Brian Woodbine; Jermaine Johnson (Theo Robinson 68'), Rodolph Austin, Marvin Elliot, Jermaine Hue (Jermaine Beckford 70'), Garath McCleary (Omar Daley 75'); Ryan Johnson
1. Costa Rica; 2-1-1 (7 points), GF 5 GA 3 GD +2
2. United States; 2-1-1 (7 points), GF 4 GA 3 GD +1
3. Mexico; 1-0-4 (7 points), GF 3 GA 2 GD +1
4. Panama; 1-0-3 (6 points), GF 5 GA 3 GD +2
5. Honduras; 1-2-1 (4 points), GF 4 GA 6 GD -2
6. Jamaica; 0-3-2 (2 points), GF 2 GA 6 GD -4