He didn’t try to kiss the sideline reporter during his halftime interview, but U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann did that other thing Joe Namath is famous for: he guaranteed a victory for his team in a huge game, and his team went out and got that victory.
They did it pretty comfortably, too, for the first hour anyway. In the first half, the U.S. controlled 80% of possession, completed 91% of their passes, and outshot the visitors 8-0. Yet they had nothing to show for it at the break.
The Americans continued to dictate play in the second session, and in the 55th minute, they finally broke through on a mistake by Jamaican keeper Dwayne Miller—an ironic turn, since he had been sensational to that point. After making several terrific saves to keep the score level, Miller failed to deal properly with Herculez Gomez’s 30-yard free kick, pushing the curling shot into the side netting for a 1-0 U.S. lead.
Jamaica came out of their defensive shell after the goal and gave the U.S. some nervy moments down the stretch, but the Yanks held on for the three points that put them back on top of the group on goal difference with two games to play in this round.
Three thoughts on the 9/11 win in the heartland:
• The Frankie Hejduk-led Columbus Crew Stadium crowd was the 12th man.
Former U.S. national teamer and two-time MLS Cup champ Hejduk, now a member of the Crew’s front office, donned his old USMNT jersey and led a rabid section of U.S. supporters. Here he is, courtesy of soccer scribe Brian Straus:
• Midfielders Graham Zusi and Danny Williams helped their USMNT causes the most last night.
Zusi clanged a shot off the crossbar in the opening moments, showing he was there to play right out of the gate, and Williams later nearly knocked down the upright with a thundering 30-yarder that somehow stayed out of the goal. Both excelled otherwise, too, with Zusi complementing Steve Cherundolo perfectly on the right flank, and Williams dominating the middle on both sides of the ball. Now, here’s hoping Williams stays in that spot. He’d be a better option behind Michael Bradley than Jermaine Jones.
• Both Brek Shea and Maurice Edu are in a funk.
They came on as late-game subs, surely with instructions to keep the ball and help kill the game for the U.S., but both nearly did the opposite, squandering possession and looking unsure of themselves. Edu needs to settle in and get games at Stoke City, where he recently signed alongside Geoff Cameron (who showed last night that he now owns one of the U.S. center back slots, after only eight appearances). Shea needs to get his head sorted out.