U.S. 1 Jamaica 0
Celebrate (c’mon): Fabian Johnson and goalkeeper Tim Howard celebrate tonight’s win over Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio (Photo: Getty Images).
Three shots hit the woodwork, another went in. Slim margins, big victories. The U.S. will take it and move on.
Los Angeles native Herculez Gomez, as determined a player as you’ll ever see, clinched the win — from of all things a free kick, which Jamaica employed twice Friday to defeat the U.S. (And didn’t coach Jurgen Klinsmann look relieved when that went in?)
“You talk about hunger, he’s a role model,” Klinsmann said of Gomez. “In every training session, he gives you what he gave tonight. If you tell him at 2 a.m. to go out and bend the ball around, he’s there. We need that. He has that determination that he wants to score so badly. This is something we need to develop even more in our team – that hunger to succeed and that hunger to score, but also that willingness to suffer. We are very happy to have him with us.”
Klinsmann, essentially admitting his mistakes, made five changes from the team that lost in Jamaica. In particular, Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi was a midfield revelation in his first WCQ game, unafraid to take potshots at goal and very nearly scoring.
Here’s the lineup: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 20-Geoff Cameron, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson; 14-Danny Williams; 19-Graham Zusi (7-Maurice Edu, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 16-Jose Torres (11-Brek Shea, 67); 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Herculez Gomez (17-Jozy Altidore, 80)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 5-Kyle Beckerman, 12-Brad Guzan, 15-Michael Parkhurst, 18-Terrence Boyd
It was literally a different team, with a different perspective after the game in Jamaica.
“It was important for them to understand the urgency we have in World Cup qualifying,” Klinsmann said. “I went through qualifiers myself and when we won the World Cup in 1990, we almost didn’t qualify. It was down to the last game which we won 2-1 and the opponent, Wales, missed a 100-percent chance in the 88th minute and Germany almost didn’t go to the World Cup. That’s how close it can get. We try to tell players to not waste time and not waste points. We wasted points in Jamaica. It was really important they understand to get down to business tonight and they responded well.”
*The all important standings.
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*Mexico became the first team to clinch a spot in the hexagonal.
*Former Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz played a key role tonight for Guatamala.