New England Soccer Today

Jamaica Stuns U.S.

The United States road woes in CONCACAF 2014 World Cup Qualifying continued on Friday night as they fell 2-1 to Jamaica at Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Clint Dempsey put the U.S. in the lead just 36 seconds into the match, but Rodolph Austin knotted the score directly off a free kick in the 23rd minute and then Luton Shelton scored the winner for Jamaica on another set piece in the 62nd minute. It was the second straight road disappointment in World Cup qualifying for the U.S., who drew 1-1 in Guatemala on June 12 after opening qualifying with a 3-1 home win over Antigua & Barbuda on June 8.

The loss dropped the 33rd ranked U.S. (1-1-1, 4 points) into a tie with 91st ranked Guatemala for second place in Group D. Jamaica (2-1-1, 7 points), ranked 60th, sits atop Group D. The top two teams in each group advance.

“A couple of things went wrong,” head coach Jürgen Klinsmann told the media after the loss. “Having that lead maybe gave players the feeling they can play the complicated way. I told them at halftime this is not the way it works. You’ve got to keep things simple on the field. Every time we played simple passing and combined, we created chances.”

Dempsey’s opening strike was the fastest World Cup Qualifying goal in U.S. Men’s National Team history. The play started with Maurice Edu sending Herculez Gomez into the box with a through pass. Gomez cut around a defender and took a shot on frame that was denied by goalkeeper Dwayne Miller, but the rebound fell back to Gomez.

The Santos Laguna striker again directed a shot on frame, but this time was denied by defender Nyron Nosworthy. Dempsey, who joined Tottenham Hotspur from Fulham FC last week, picked up the loose ball and powered it into the net to put the U.S. in the lead. It was the former New England Revolution midfielder’s eighth career goal in World Cup qualifying, moving him into a tie for fourth place in U.S. history.

“We were moving the ball well and got the ball wide and then I think it was a deflection that came to me right in front of the goal,” said Dempsey, who know has 28 career goals for the U.S. “It was an ideal start, but it was frustrating because we struggled on set pieces. We gave away too many free kicks around the box and they punished us for it.”

The equalizer came in the 23rd minute after the Jamaicans earned a free kick from a Kyle Beckerman foul just outside the box. Austin, a midfielder for Leeds United, took the set piece and hit a low shot that deflected off Beckerman’s foot in the wall, redirecting just out of the reach of goalkeeper Tim Howard to make it 1-1.

Dempsey nearly put the U.S. back in the lead just before halftime, but was denied by Miller, leaving the match tied at the half.

Jamaica would grab the game winner in 62nd minute. This time the home team earned another dangerous free kick after a foul by Edu just outside the box. Shelton, who plays for Turkish club Karabükspor, curled a free kick over the wall and just inside the near post to give Jamaica a surprise lead.

The Jamaicans would outshoot the U.S. 9 to 7 on their way to their first ever victory over the Americans. The U.S. was 10-0-8 against Jamaica heading into the match.

Former Revolution defender and Providence (R.I.) native Michael Parkhurst and former University of Rhode Island defender and Attleboro (Mass.) native Geoff Cameron both played the full 90 minutes for the U.S. in the loss.

The U.S. plays Jamaica again on Tuesday, this time at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. That match can be seen live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET.

“It’s always difficult when you have these qualifiers away from home,” said Dempsey. “But you’ve got to make sure you take advantage of your home games, and now we’ve got a game against them again so hopefully we can give them some payback.”


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