On a hot-humid night in Kingston, Jamaica, the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) pulled off a 2-1 World Cup qualifier thriller. The match was played in front of a sold-out, hostile Jamaican crowd on Friday night in Jamaica—a place where the U.S. has not won a World Cup qualifier (with a record of 0-4-1).
Jozy Altidore opened scoring for the American’s in the 30th minute of play. Altidore, who has been hot of late, scored his second goal in two consecutive matches for the national team. (Altidore scored in last Sunday’s friendly match in the U.S. 4-3 exhibition win over Germany in Washington D.C.). Altidore’s goal came off a cross, as Graham Zusi ran from down the right side behind Jamaica’s left back O’Brian Woodbine and send the ball into the box to an on rushing Jose Altidore. Altidore got behind two defenders and beat goalkeeper Donavan Ricketts with a header from inside the 6-yard box. Last night’s goal against Jamaica is Altifore’s 15th career international goal in 58 appearances for the USMNT.
The culture of the game changed in the 89th minute when an un-marked Jermaine Beckford beat Tim Howard with a header off a 40-yard free kick from Rodolph Austin. With the score leveled 1-1 that late in the match, it looked like the Americans would come away with just one point.
But with just over a minute played in four minutes of extra-time; of a Michael Bradley’s corner-kick pass to Graham Zusi, Zusi gave the ball back to Bradley got around Alvas Powel and send a cross into Brad Evans. Evans was able to spin around three defenders and placed the ball pass Ricketts to put the U.S. up 2-1 for good and steal the win.
This win was huge for the Americans as it inches them closer to a World Cup qualifying berth. It also gave them redemption from last year when they gave up two goals to Jamaica in the CONCAFAC semifinals round after scoring first.
The USMNT returns home to start a stretch of three World Cup qualifiers in 12 days. They host Panama on Tuesday in Seattle, Washington, then plays Honduras on June 18 in Sandy, Utah.
After last night’s win the USMNT improved to seven points and has a good chance to finish strong in CONCACAF. The U.S. is tied with Costa Rica in points but trail them in goals difference; but they are ahead of Mexico on goals difference (Mexico also has seven points). The top three nations in the CONCAFAC league will automatically qualify for the 32-nation World Cup tournament in Brazil next year, and the No. 4 team will face-off against New Zealand in a playoff match for an at-large berth.
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