USA vs. Jamaica: Score, Highlights and Grades
The United States increased its chances of making the final World Cup qualifying group by a large margin with its 1-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday night.
With the win at Crew Stadium, the Americans moved into a three-way tie with Jamaica and Guatemala. Only two teams advance from Round 3 to the final qualifying group, but the Americans are in good shape with goal differential and still have a match left against Antigua and Barbuda, the group's bottom dweller.
Will the Americans make it to the 2014 World Cup?
Jamaica's strategy from the onset was clear in this one; park the bus and play for the road point.
In the first half, it wasn't really the bus that bothered the United States as much as it was the goal posts and goalkeeper.
The Americans, thanks to 79 percent(!) possession, had several brilliant opportunities to find the back of the net.
Three or four shots hit the post or crossbar, including Daniel Williams' epic screamer (see below), multiple chances in front of the goal went haywire, and to top it all off, Jamaican goalkeeper Dwayne Miller made a couple of brilliant saves.
After the first 45 minutes, it easily could have been 4-0 in favor of the USA. Instead, it was 0-0.
Naturally, the second half started in the exact opposite fashion.
While most of the United States' first-half chances came via defenders and midfielders, it was forward Herculez Gomez who put the team ahead in the 55th minute. Gomez struck his free kick beautifully with plenty of pace, but also got a lot of help from Miller, who had played wonderfully up until that moment but should have done better with the attempt.
Nonetheless, the Americans had their lead and that's all that mattered.
Jamaica moved out of its shell after that, and the United States became stagnant, but the Stars and Stripes held on for the 1-0 win despite solid chances for both countries.
Steve Cherundolo: A
With Jamaica falling back to its own half, it was apparent that Steve Cherundolo wouldn't be needed so much on the defensive side of the pitch. He recognized that very early on and intelligently turned himself into a weapon.
The 33-year-old veteran made countless dangerous runs down the sideline, producing several chances for the Americans inside the box. He also had a shot on target that would have found the back of the net if not for a world-class save by Miller.
In the second half, when Jamaica opened up a little bit, Cherundolo showcased his versatility by dropping back and providing stellar defense.
Herculez Gomez: A
To be honest, Gomez really wasn't all that involved for most of the game. In the first half, he took down a long ball in the box nicely with his chest, but wasn't able to stay on his feet and lost out on that opportunity.
But oh, how a goal changes things.
Not just any goal, either. Gomez's fifth career USMNT goal was the most important in a long time for the Americans, who badly needed a win to improve their World Cup chances.
Pro Soccer Talk's Steve Davis gives us an idea of just how big:
There have been bigger #USMNT goals than the one Herculez Gomez just hit… but not in a long time. Probably not since Donovans's in 2010 WC— Steve Davis (@SteveDavis90) September 12, 2012
I'd say that deserves an A.
Updated 3rd Round Table: Group 1
For a complete look at all CONCACAF group tables, check out ESPN.
|Team||Games Played||Wins||Draws||Losses||Goal Differential||Points|
|Antigua and Barbuda||4||0||1||2||-4||1|
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