The road to the World Cup is long. It takes several years of foreign play against a diverse array of talent sometimes in foreign lands and lesser stadiums. But when people look back at the American Team’s journey, few will remember the match against Jamaica last Friday night.
At the beginning of the Hex, many predicted that this home game against Jamaica would be America’s easiest game. You would imagine that US Soccer would also be able to handle such opponent with ease, but no, that is not how it went.
There were chances for both sides to score in the first half, but as it is with any sport, a few inches can make all the difference. Jamaica had a really good chance at a goal when the US defense broke down on a free kick, but luckily Seattle Sounder Brad Evans was able to clear the ball and ruin Jamaica’s best scoring opportunity.
Striker Aron Jóhannsson faltered on a few good opportunities in front of goal, never able to get good positioning with the ball. He is young and his skills will develop over time. Jurgen Klinsmann knows of the kid’s potential and knows that he will someday be a valuable asset for the US, but the best that any US fan can do right now is be patient with Jóhannsson, especially since this was his first US start.
Sporting Kansas City man, Graham Zusi, subbed in for Landon Donovan at half time. This and other changes sparked the team to create more chances up front. Zusi showed patience and skill in the lead up to his goal. Watch below around the 2:25 mark. Mix Diskerud trys to make a move but fails, and the ball falls back to Zusi. Looking up, he realizes that he has no way forward because Diskerud is offside. Zusi waits, there is no pressure on him, nor a shot; he waits just long enough for something to develop. Running down the right is Alejandro Bedoya, and Zusi hits him in stride with a great pass. The moment is nearly lost when a Jamaican defender gets in the way, but Bedoya gets the ball back in front of the goal, where Zusi was already waiting to send it into the back of the net.
The last goal came for Jozy Altidore, who now has six goals in six straight games for the US. The goal was a product of a good pass by Edgar Castillo, who spotted Altidore on the far side of the goal. Altidore received the ball and gave the Jamaican goalie no chance for a save.
The US is now on top of the Hex and has wrapped up their perfect homes record going 5-0-0. The last game of the Hex comes on Tuesday at Panama, who will be desperately grasping for a last shot to qualify for Brazil. There are a few roster changes coming for the US, including sending Sporting KC’s Matt Besler back home. These shouldn’t make a huge difference, as the Yanks have proven they have more depth than ever before.
The Hex Stadings
Sporting KC Clinch Playoff Chance
And then there was the other soccer event that happened over the weekend; one that is especially special for Kansas City folks. Sporting KC has now clinched a playoff spot for the MLS Cup. This is the third straight year for them. There are two games left in the regular season, a nationally-televised home game against the last place D.C. United this Friday, and an away match with the Philadelphia Union. If you are even slightly interested in learning more about Sporting KC, watch the game on Friday night. It’s 7:00 pm Central on the NBC Sports Network.