USMNT Report: Redemption Song

US redeems itself with 1-0 win over Jamaican team that beat them last week in WCQ
by Herb Scribner   |   Wednesday, September 12, 2012

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

Any worry or doubt in the United States Men’s National Soccer Team just might have been eased Tuesday night on an emotional 9/11 in Columbus, Ohio.

The USMNT, which lost to Jamaica, 2-1, last Friday night, responded with a 1-0 victory over the Jamaicans on American soil. It wasn’t the prettiest match on either side, but the US earned what it wanted most: redemption.

Jamaica highlights: It wasn’t a high-scoring affair, but there were surely many chances in the early going for the USA as it was clear that Jamaica was trying to bunker.

One chance came from Graham Zusi, who has been a threat in MLS but has shown little success at the international level as of yet. Zusi blasted a ball in the 6th minute, which grazed the top of the bar. No goal.

The US maintained possession for the first eight minutes of the contest. On Jamaica’s first opportunity with the ball, they pushed forward just a bit before the Americans won it back.

Jermaine Jones tried his luck at the 15-minute mark, but came up with a goose egg.

Jamaican goalkeeper Dwayne Miller was on form and thwarted the Yanks by making incredible saves to stop Zusi, Dempsey and the rest of the US attack.

Miller, however, would eventually be Jamaica’s undoing.

On a free-kick in the 55th minute, Herculez Gomez sent in a screamer that whizzed past Miller’s fingertips. Likely the result of a lapse in concentration or bad positioning from the outset. It was the break the USMNT needed to secure the victory. After the US goal, the Jamaicans broke out of their defensive shell and the USA then looked content with the scoreline and held back the Jamaican offensive until the final whistle.

Post-game reactions: Gomez’s goal was a big talking point in the post-game press conference. US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was very excited over Gomez’s contribution.

“You talk about hunger, he’s a role model,” Klinsmann said. “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.”

Gomez focused more on the team-play in the postgame, saying the energy that was lost during the Friday-night affair with Jamaica was back in Tuesday’s contest.

“I think that energy was transmitted to us throughout the week,” Gomez said. “We knew how important they thought it was. … I don’t think anybody here took Jamaica for granted. We knew what we were getting into. We weren’t pleased with our performance on Friday and because we weren’t pleased with that performance we were all really excited and chomping at the bit to get at them tonight.”

From the stands: The match, held at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, drew 23,881 fans for a raucous and emotional night of patriotism and remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy 11 years ago. Columbus just might have solidified itself as the premier soccer specific venue and town for USA National Team support. Goalkeeper Tim Howard typified the central Ohio support best.

“This is probably one of the best home-field advantages we have in America. I don’t know what it is about Columbus. Everyone was standing, there were thousands of people with flags. It was really an electric, pro-American atmosphere and that’s such an awesome thing.”

Analysis: Despite the talents of this Jamaica team, I didn’t see Friday’s loss to Jamaica coming, so Tuesday night’s win wasn’t much of a surprise.

The USMNT needed this win more than any other thus far into qualifying. They were fresh off a devastating loss to a lesser opponent in qualifying, and needed to show both themselves and the world that they are a legitimate team. They did just that with the win. It wasn’t pretty, nor was it too eventful, but it got the job done. Most doubts over Friday’s loss have been wiped away.

I’ll say the USMNT is still struggling to find the right lineup. It appears the team has all the right pieces, but they aren’t making it fit just yet. Klinsmann brought this up in the postgame, speaking about how one of his responsibilities is to make the starting lineup work both tactically and for players. He even called it a puzzle that they’re trying to make fit.

I’ve always wanted Jose Torres on the USMNT, but his recent showings haven’t convinced me to stay that course anymore.

Zusi is another who I’ve always thought would be a good fit for the USMNT. He’s been doing a lot of work in the offense, but the yellow card he received last night didn’t help his cause. I think he’ll improve but he just needs time to get used to international soccer.

And is Gomez our new scoring target? He’s been notching goals left and right for the USMNT. I’d still look for Dempsey to be the prime target when he gets back into match fitness with his new club, but Gomez is making one heck of a case to stay up top.

The USMNT won this on what many are calling a mistake by Miller. But there have been hundreds of games decided on “mistakes,” so it’s tough to pinpoint this one as anything different than a normal win. The Americans got exactly what they needed, and deserved by the first half performance, on Tuesday night. It was September 11th, a day of remembrance for all Americans, and the match was on home soil. Is there a better way for the team to celebrate than with a 1-0 victory over a team that just shut it down four days prior?

That shows the true American way.

Up next: The USMNT gets a month-long break before returning to CONCACAF WCQs. On Oct. 12, the Americans play away and face Antigua & Barbuda again, which they beat, 3-1, last time around at home. Since GUA, JAM & the USA are all tied with 7 points, the group may come down to goal differential, so beating Antigua handily and without mercy, is vital.

Four days later, the USMNT will battle Guatemala in Kansas City, at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in what may be the most vital match of the group and likely decide which two nations get to the Hex.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.
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