Jamaica’s late attempt to thwart the USA’s 2014 World Cup hopes came crashing down in extra time on Friday night in Kingston, Jamaica.
The consequences of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier were immense for both clubs. Jamaica’s situation was dire, fighting to stay alive, and the USA was attempting to seal their Brazil bid.
After losing their 1-0 advantage to a sloppy 89th-minute equalizer, the USA stormed back into the lead in extra time after a beautiful pass from Michael Bradley found Brad Evans in perfect position in front of the net.
Evans’ game-winning goal saved the match and made an impressive statement in the process for the eager United States men’s national team. It gave them three points, propelling them to the top of the qualifying group standings.
Joshua Mayers put the magnitude of that late, game-winning goal into context:
Even more impressive, the USA scored its first ever win on Jamaican soil in the process.
The win gives the club a 2-1-1 record to this point, despite playing three of their four contests on the road.
Heading back to the U.S. for its next two qualifiers, the men's national team has the opportunity to distance itself from the rest of the group—or at least to build momentum and confidence heading into its final four matches.
Anything can happen, but not earning at least two points in upcoming qualifiers in Seattle and Salt Lake City would be a shocking turnaround for the club.
The Americans have typically enjoyed great success on their own soil. As of June 8, 2013, the men's national team has captured at least one point in the States in each of their last 26 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches.
Their 2-3 loss to Honduras in the U.S. on September 1, 2002, is the last time they failed to add a point to their qualifying chances.
Has the U.S. punched its ticket to Brazil?
Overall, the U.S. has fared well against both Honduras and Panama in the past. Since 2002, the U.S. is 9-1-1 overall against Honduras and 4-2-1 all-time against the nation in World Cup qualifying matches. Honduras defeated the U.S. on its own soil in February but is winless away from Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in two previous contests.
Panama doesn’t appear to pose too big of a problem, either. The Latin nation is just 0-1-3 against the U.S. during their past four World Cup qualifying matchups and 1-0-3 in their last four total meetings.
With the U.S. likely to add four points in the coming week, after stealing three in Jamaica, they are more or less a lock to make it to Brazil.