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Johnson brace saves USA in last-minute WCQ win

Photo by John Todd/


The U.S. Men’s National Team were flirting with disaster and on the brink of settling for a shock draw against Antigua & Barbuda, but Eddie Johnson came through in the clutch to help lift the Americans to victory.

Johnson headed home a 90th-minute winner to give the Americans a hard-fought,  2-1 victory over Antigua & Barbuda in a rainy Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in St. John’s on Friday night.

Playing in his first international match since 2010, Johnson repaid the faith shown in him by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann by delivering a pair of goals that moved the Americans a step closer to the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF qualifying. He buried the game-winner courtesy of a perfect cross from Alan Gordon.

The late goal helped the Americans avoid an embarrassing result, and helped offset an otherwise disappointing night that saw the U.S. struggle mightily to cope with the elements of rain, wind, and a bumpy and narrow field.

Johnson opened the scoring in the 20th minute when he nodded a beautiful cross from Graham Zusi past Antigua & Barbuda goalkeeper Molvin James for his first U.S. goal in more than four years.

The hosts did not take long to respond, as Dexter Blackstock tapped home a cross from Peter Byers in the 25th minute. Byers raced past U.S. centerback Geoff Cameron with ease and then hit a low ball to Blackstock, who pushed past Clarence Goodson before hitting the ball past a helpless Tim Howard.

The Americans, deployed in a 4-1-3-2 formation, pushed once again for the go-ahead goal. But even though they dominated possession, they struggled to create chances and Antigua & Barbuda seemed the team more likely to find the back of the net in another lethargic offensive showing for the Americans.

Michael Bradley nearly found a winner following a corner kick in the 86th minute, but James denied him with a reaction save to tip his header over the crossbar.

The U.S. looked destined to settle for the draw before Gordon chipped a cross to the back-post, where a wide-open Johnson headed it home to bring the Americans a step closer to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying. The goal was Johnson’s 10th career tally in World Cup qualifying.

The victory temporarily gaves the Americans sole possession of first place in Group A with 10 points, but Guatemala defeated Jamaica, 2-1, in the other group game on Friday night to pull level with the United States.

The Americans can now secure advancement to the Hexagonal with a win or draw against Guatemala on Tuesday night. They can also move on to the next round with a loss and a Jamaica win over Antigua & Barbuda, so long as Jamaica does not make up the +3 goal difference the U.S. currently has.


  1. Klinsman can get results so far. He wants his players to be disciplined and adhere to a game plan. US players are not capable playing like that. They lack a German upbringing. Dempsey looks positively incompetent in the present system because he is best when he is playing in a spontaneous manner. He was asked to play a role in Barbuda he did not like. It showed. I am afraid the US will be eliminated in the next phase if not before. By this time next year we will be asking who is Klinsman?

    • Only Germans can stick to a game plan? Sorry John, but that is just plain rubbish. It did give me a good laugh though. If US teams have been noted for anything over the years, it is fight, discipline and playing within a system.

  2. Everyone was on board with the abstraction that JK was going to change our style, and it’s sadly predictable that everyone accepted such change was going to be ugly and rocky in the short term…up until the moment it was ugly and rocky in the short term.

    And that’s before we even get into the declining skills of our core and the lack of a promising next generation. There is no one that looks ready to replace Landon, Charlie, Deuce, or Howard, let alone surpass them. Everything else is noise, boys. We are a system in flux experiencing a power loss in the midst of battle. Doesn’t mean we won’t get where we need to be, but every coach grows and this particular plan always involved some damage to the transmission.

  3. I was a big Klinsmann for US coach fan, and I can’t say it has gone as I had I envisioned. My only hope is that sometimes things get worse before they get better. Klinsmann has made some tough calls with Altidore and Chandler, but maybe those will payoff longterm. If we can squeak into the next round, Klinsman is going to have to retool and find new players that can make a difference. At least Johnson and Gordon repayed Klinsman for his trust in them.

  4. heheh dodged a bullet…long road fellas, have some faith in JK. The roster is far from set and every few games new players step up and others drop off…slow steady improvement.

  5. Qualifiers are beyond difficult they are not meant to be pretty do you guys not see the horrible pitch the bad weather get that through your head already. Nothing matters in this stage except getting the damn result and we got it, be proud of our boys for getting the 3 points.

    • Alan Gordon said, ” Seruz… The ball ricocheted off my foot and next thing I know.. Grown ass Man is heading the thing in… It’s not like I can take it back. It’s not like Deuce had anything brewin..

  6. I am truly at a loss to what Dempsey’s actual position is. Dropping back farther than Bradley into the defensive third to receive a pass then square it to Jones does nothing for the USMNT attack.

    He had one good through pass to Gomez and a nice one-two with Bradley, but that was about it. Deuce needs to be more of a factor against Guate in the attacking third.

    If the USMNT makes it to the Hex Klisnmann and his staff’s primary focus should be on bringing in more creative players into the friendlies before the Hex starts i.e. Freddy Adu, Feilhaber, Gatt, DeLeon, Pontius would all be a good start. I fully expect to see these players in the Russia friendly and going into the January camp.

  7. Ok… So now that the US and Guatemala only need a draw to qualify, do they contact each other and agree to end the game in a draw? It would mos def be taking a page out of the Serie A handbook but I’m okay with it!

  8. The CONCACAF referees are the worst in the entire world. The match tonight was an example. The thing is unless we do something we will continually be at the mersie of these small federations and Jack Warner’s corrupt referees. Carribean nations unite to form your own confederation and leave us alone. I know jack is gone but this was his set up.

  9. if i recall SPAIN the world champions bearly beat puerto rico at Puerto Rico playing inn such a small field hurt the us in soccer you can never under estimate your opponent. Any one recall world cup in brasil 1950 were a team with no bodies beat England

  10. You do not have to be a klinsy hater to disapprove of his tactics. I cannot remember so many head-scratching moments for US fans. Complain about Arena and Bradley if you want, but the play was more consistent. Yes, there have been injuries, but there have always been injuries on the Nats. I have to laugh a little that we were saved by some MLS guys, which was the foundation of the Nats for some years.

  11. I have seen Germany struggle against San Marino, I have seen England beat Andorra 2-1, I have seen Italy struggle against Albania, and Germany struggle against Georgia.

    The US did not play well. However, even great teams can struggle against lesser teams. It is not right to suggest that the US couldn’t struggle or play poorly at times.

    The conditions tonight were ripe for the US to play poorly. This time the ref had less to do with that than previous games. However, the weather and the pitch played to their strengths and our weaknesses. I think JK could have called a better game plan by putting more people in the box and playing more direct, but his personnel choices, which were controversial paid off, so give credit where credit is do.

    The US does not look cohesive because of injuries, players being held out by coaches, and the fact that JK’s possession style, which I like, is not appropriate for the many of the fields in the Caribbean and Central America. The Caribbean ones are set up based on the old English style of direct, narrow, physical play. A possession based team wants as large a pitch as possible like in Mexico, wide and long.

    The Jamaican coach and the Antigua coach used good strategy, maybe our strategy wasn’t great, but it is hard to switch styles to meet the pitch, so I think that is why the US doesn’t look that great on the road. At home I think the possession style makes us look much better and it is what we are training for. In the long run, I think this style will take us farther especially in the World Cup where the fields will be better suited to posession style rather than long ball.

    For qualifying in the Caribbean, we need to play more direct, put more bodies in the box, and whip in crosses. In Central America, we need to get nastier and give them a taste of their own medicine.

    • When did Germany struggle against San Marino? Then have only played San Marino twice in history and they won by a combined score of 19-0. Also, Andorra has never scored against England so I have no idea where you are getting 2-1 from.


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