World Cup Qualifying

Gomez goal propels USMNT to crucial World Cup qualifying win vs. Jamaica


photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. men's national team got back on track in their road to the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday night and they did so with one of their more dominating performances under U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Four days after suffering a disappointing World Cup qualifying loss to Jamaica in Kingston, the United States rebounded by defeating the Reggae Boyz, 1-0, in in front of a sold-out crowd of 23,881 at Columbus Crew Stadium. The win gave the Americans seven points through their first four matches of the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, pulling them level with Guatemala and ahead of Jamaica by goal differential.

Herculez Gomez scored the winning goal in the match played on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, hitting a free kick in the 55th minute past Jamaica goalkeeper Dwayne Miller to end the U.S.'s run of bad luck. The Americans were the dominant side for much of the 90 minutes but hit the posts and crossbar a combined three times in a scoreless first half.

"The team did really well, especially what you saw (in) the first 30 minutes was outstanding," said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "The only thing that was missing was scoring goals. Posts unfortunately don't count. We said at halftime, 'We've got to keep pushing, we've got to force it, at moments you've got to force your luck' and it came with a beautiful free kick from Herculez.

"It was very important after that frustrating loss there Friday night in Kingston to come back and get in pole position."

Klinsmann not only changed the 4-4-2 diamond midfield formation from Friday's defeat to a 4-1-3-2, but he also made a few personnel moves that paid dividends for the Americans. The German-born coach played Danny Williams as a defensive midfielder and he also inserted Graham Zusi and Jose Torres on the outside of the midfield, which helped with possession and allowed for fullbacks Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson to overlap and get involved in the attack.

That resulted in the U.S. seeing much of the ball from the opening whistle and they were able to get numbers forward and create several quality looks on goal. Unfortunately for the Americans, they were either denied by Miller or by the posts and crossbar.

Cherundolo, Zusi and Williams all had shots smack off the woodwork and the Americans were unable to find the back of the net despite having eight shots in the first half.

"You live through that," said Klinsmann. "I just wanted to make sure that we keep on pushing it, that they always kind of go for the next occasion. It was really important in my whole career as a striker, you can't get frustrated. You've got to stay hungry for the next one that comes and that's what I told them at halftime. Not even one negative thought you can have after missing or hitting the post or the crossbar.

"You've got to stay positive and force it and we had that sense from the team (that) they were very determined to do really well on a very special night. They really deserved it."

The breakthrough came 10 minutes after halftime. Clint Dempsey was fouled by Rodolph Austin from about 28 yards out and Gomez took full advantage of the opportunity by hitting a curling free kick that Miller got a hand to but could not push clear.

"It was unlucky for him but after all we did in the first half and hitting the posts and what not, we deserved a bit of luck," said Gomez. "In the first half I was taking free kicks and I was feeling confident with the way the ball was moving and how it was going for me so I was excited to pull the trigger there."

The Americans continued to push for another goal but Jamaica found some life as they broke out of their defensive shell and tried to win more possession. Tim Howard had to come up big on one play to deny Austin in the 80th minute, but aside from that the U.S. was not troubled much by the Reggae Boyz.

"Obviously we're back on track, we know it's not done yet, we know it's down to the wire. That's what World Cup qualifiers are all about," said Klinsmann. "We're going to be very, very sharp and focused going into Antigua and then at home in Kansas City playing Guatemala."

The United States is now tied on seven points with Jamaica and Guatemala in Group A. Guatemala topped Antigua and Barbuda, 1-0, in the other match on Tuesday.

The U.S. will round out group play with a pair of matches in October. The Americans visit Antigua and Barbuda on October 12 before playing Guatemala at home at Livestrong Sporting Park four days later.


What do you think of the U.S.'s 1-0 win over Jamaica? Who impressed you? Impressed by the pro-U.S. crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Johnny

    The positives: Cameron continues to play well and solidified his spot on the NATS roster after the Scotland game. Williams made a case for his spot and had a great shot (as well as some good touches). Herc continues to have a nose for the goal. Johnson played well and has earned a spot at LB. Zusi obviously played great. My only question though: where has that effort been? I watched him earlier this year and he didn’t stand out for me like he did tonight.

    The so-so’s: Torres continues to unimpress IMHO. He’s not bad, but I thought the US would have someone better we could turn to; coach Klinsmann obviously doesn’t share my opinion. I like Edu on he back line; in the midfield…not so much. He’s fast and physical but his touch isn’t what it needs to be at the national level. Shea was so-so…after the first time he played for the NATS I thought he was going to be a game changer for us. Hopefully he turns it around. Altidore hasn’t impressed me much lately. I think he deserves a spot on the team, but if I had to choose between Altidore and Gomez, I’d pick Gomez.

    The questions: Cherundolo and Bocanegra continue to play well, but each time they start it reminds me we really need to start transitioning them (unfortunately). We all thought Chandler was the answer at RB, but that’s gone. Spector is a bit too slow at the national level. Lichaj seems to be the likely choice. I still think this team could benefit from Adu and Feilhaber. I thought Adu played very well against Panama, and I think the US could benefit from having skilled players in the midfield.


  • Hayes

    Important win for the US and loved to see the possession in the first half. Williams and Zusi stepped up to the plate and Cameron continues to look like one of the CB asnwers. Boca was just average. Any CB can look organized and composed when your team has 80% possession but he looked flat footed once the Jam started to attack. Thought Dolo had a good game but his service needs to be better. Realize he and Johnson were more attacking but that is easy to do when you have that much possession. He may be the best RB we have but I do not think he will be able to play 90 minutes for 3 pool games by 2014, so someone else is needed.

    Torres slows the game down too much going forward and is too slow of foot and speed of play to add much at this level.

    Here is a potential option with subs options in ().


    I think the whole outside back depth issues will be sorted out but Parkhurst added his name to the mix if Chandler ends up not playing for the US. Lichaj should also be in that mix.


  • Jay in Ft. Lauderdale

    True. Still though, can MB and LD please get healthy?! Does anyone think we struggle at all the last 2 games if they’re on the field? … and is Stuey ever coming back?


  • Alex G

    IMO Dempsey needs to start playing smart soccer, simple soccer, he always wants to show off and wastes a lot of chances with bad ball control skills.
    This result is not enough, if we are having trouble in this stage of the qualifiers, I don´t want to know what´s going to happen to us in the Hex, God help us.


  • THomas

    If he did…those are two impressive games. And judging a sub off of ten minutes of work, especially a striker like Jozy, is not really fair.


  • Juan

    No goals against Jamaica is not impressive. Possession when the other team bunkers doesnt mean much either. When Jamaica started attacking in the second half, we didnt look so hot


  • THomas

    I agree louis z. And if we did, we had to a little bit. We couldn’t keep bombing guys forward when Jamaica was looking for a quick counter. I think it was the perfect game. And Jamaica is good, better than they’ve ever been and probably top 5 in Concacaf right now.


  • The Imperative Voice

    And I felt like the player we missed more than anyone was Landon, who could have been put in either Torres, Zusi, or Gomez’s spots and been an upgrade. While I agree that he blossoms in an open game that lets him run, there were plenty of opportunities to get around the corner on their backs last night that the nominal wings Zusi and Torres lacked the physical tools to exploit. And then in the period where the game opened up after the goal, and Richards came in, that would have been Landon paradise. So there were windows where Landon would have helped.


  • The Imperative Voice

    I’ve said this a few times now but the USA has in recent years played Italy well because they back off and let us play, then try and win the ball with physical defense. This allows Jozy time to receive the ball with less pressure and figure out his options. Italy does this because their defense is traditionally so good it can beat most teams sitting back, and thus feels like it can be non-gimmicky and conservative.

    However, against the USA, it’s an invitation for us to move the ball downfield and actually hides some of our passing and touch flaws. Jozy doesn’t have to trap in pressure. Jozy can iso his man. Jozy can get the ball and then make a deliberate decision.

    It’s a very good matchup for us, just like T&T was for Jozy.

    The Eredivisie bears some similarities in that they tend to emphasize flowing offense over half-court, physical defense. That AZ is not MLS or England or Brazil is thus to Jozy’s benefit in terms of appearances.

    But it’s not general reality. Most national teams aren’t going to let Jozy trap, think, turn. They’re going to hassle him like Jamaica, at which point last night he started back passing to no one, flubbing traps, etc.

    So I disagree. I think Jozy is instead better suited to games coming up like Guatemala where the opposition is smaller and he can bowl them over or head over them. But Jamaica had some beefy backs and that neutralized Jozy.


  • The Imperative Voice

    I realize Landon is a part answer to the question, but they need to sit down and figure out what the wing player pool is? Cause a continuing pattern I see is having players in wide positions whose crossing is mediocre and who lack the speed to create their own openings. Torres was anonymous and Zusi looked better receiving the ball in the 35 yard danger area centrally. There was no chalk on the boots winger with speed to get to the endline, and the irony is that sort of play was what was flanking Jamaica’s bunker and then getting ground passes turned into shots from the top of the 18. Also the crossing was decent but not really really sharp.

    So, on top of DMs posing as CAMs we also need to work on CAMs posing as wing mids. Shea was as close to a wing as we had and his confidence looked shot. Really need to figure out who the wings are because that has recently been an American strength.


  • BrianH

    If they are going to play flowing passing soccer there also needs to be more movement off the ball. The guys off the ball are generally standing looking at the man on the ball or only moving vertically. Rarely do we see diagonal movement, or much creativity in our movement. Also, while improved, I think we still are making negative passes when good positive options are available. Particularly with a team that is bunkered in, a quick pass forward in transition affords you a little more space and options on attack. If instead you make a negative pass and build slowly, you let them get all 11 behind the ball and it really does make stringing the passes together more challenging. Also, if the pass to an advanced position does not lead to additional forward attacking options, you can almost always find a drop ball and regroup.


  • The Second Gunman on the Grassy Knoll

    Wise words from the Imperative Voice. Particularly a fan of the latter comment on a Landon paradise after Richards subbed in. The US had a lot of decent looks on the counter but were too slow in many of those instances. LD always has endurance and fitness to burn in 90+ minutes (see US v Algeria). I think he would have been a good bet to capitalize on those counters.


  • KillerInstinct

    ….that would actually be Torres… with the countless chances he has gotten, while Sasha is being overlooked. At least Berkerman is not a turn over machine and tracks back to defend unlike Torres. Alot of people who bag on Berkerman, clearly dont follow MLS…he is a holding midfielder on RSL (a team that is known for high possession) he is able to get out of pressure…exactly what Klinsi wants.


  • beachbum

    agree. Johnson tried to fly by on wide runs outside of Torres on the left, but didn’t have the ball played to him when he overlapped


  • Dennis

    No they couldn’t. It took Jamaica only a minute to up the pressure all over the field after the goal was scored. If the goal had come early, the US would have come under pressure much sooner. In that case more of the game would have looked like the last half hour with the US basically hanging on instead of like the first half with Jamaica content to put 10 or 11 in the PA and defend only inside 30 yards.


  • Since 82

    Great first half. Mediocre second half. We played very well for 45 minutes, but we could of seen our WC chances go sideways if Jamaica had gotten lucky.


  • BF

    scoring goals and being a highly technical / smart are mutually exclusive. his goal stats are not an indication of quality. the guy sucks!!


  • sturmar

    i think both teams are good,give jamaica credit.jamaica did not want to loose the game so they played defensive and game out after the goal was scored and the usa team did not look so good after jamaica came out to play.hope both team reaches the next round so they can prove themself again.good luck both teams. two good teams.


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