A goal from Herculez Gomez was enough to save USA from embarrassment as they scraped a 1-0 victory over Jamaica to remain on course for World Cup qualification. A shock 2-1 defeat by the same opposition last week had put the pressure on Jurgen Klinsmann’s side to gain a victory in the return meeting.
They are now tied on seven points with Guatemala and Jamaica with two matches remaining in Group A. They have an away fixture against Antigua and Barbuda followed by a home game against Guatemala. With the top two progressing to the final round of qualifying, maximum points from those two games would secure their place.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made five changes from Friday’s defeat and introduced Graham Zusi on the right and Jose Torres on the left to provide more attacking options. Danny Williams was given the role of holding player in midfield.
They certainly began the match with real purpose and only a combination of the woodwork and some great goalkeeping by Jamaica’s Dwayne Miller kept the visitors level at the break. The Americans could have been ahead in six minutes when Zusi crashed a shot against the crossbar and Miller produced a fine save to prevent a deflected drive from Cherundolo sneaking in. Miller kept out another Zusi effort at the far post before a Williams thunderbolt rattled the woodwork again.
It only seemed a matter of time before the breakthrough came and, ten minutes after the interval, Gomez produced a curling free-kick that somehow evaded Miller’s despairing attempt. The keeper had been superb up to that point but, despite getting both hands to the ball, he allowed it to sneak through and into the net. The home fans were jubilant but still faced a nerve-wracking last twenty to thirty minutes.
Klinsmann made some late substitutions, presumably hoping that fresh legs would see his side through to the final whistle in comfort. It seemed to have the reverse effect as Maurice Edu and Jozy Altidore looked well off the pace and squandered possession. The Jamaica’s were forced to come out of their shell and tried to find a leveller but the US defence kept them at bay. The US team had done just about enough to deserve the win but were far from convincing and still face a struggle to progress from the group.
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