The United States defeated Antigua and Barbuda tonight in the penultimate match in this round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The three points takes the US to 10 points in Group A. Guatemala vs. Jamaica still have to play later tonight, both teams are at seven points.
It took an Eddie Johnson brace to push the USMNT through. Alan Gordon, who came in for Herculez Gomez, sent in a cross headed home at the far post to make it 2-1 USA. Johnson's second goal of the day came in the 90th minute. Gordon had a brilliant cross to the far post, and Johnson met it with a textbook downward header.
Johnson's first goal was a header as well. He met a Graham Zusi cross in the 20th minute that he bounced just under the Antigua goalkeeper. Zusi took a short corner with Michael Bradley, and then lofted a cross to the back post that no one else but Johnson got up on. He was a solid foot above everyone to head home the US' first goal from six yards out. These two goals were Johnson's first for the USMNT since June 15th, 2008 v. Barbados in an 8-0 World Cup Qualifying win.
The goalscorer for Antigua was Dexter Blackstock, striker for English Championship side Nottingham Forest. Blackstock turned it home from four yards after good work by Byers down the left flank.
A go ahead goal at the cusp of stoppage time was not what the US were expecting from the road match against the group doormat, but at this point the US have to accept three points and move on. They'll face a tougher test against Guatemala, but it's back on US soil and Guatemala are missing key players in their back line. The US will also get back Fabian Johnson for that qualifier.
It's not lost on MLS fans that it took Johnson, who has been rehabilitating his reputation in Seattle, and Alan Gordon, a life long MLS journeyman, to get the result. Not that MLS is suddenly the US' main recruiting ground, but it certainly doesn't deserve the reputation it's gained as "the easy way out".
Over in UEFA
- Without Robbie Keane, the Eire squad was demolished by Germany 6-1. The Irish looked as clueless as they did during the Euro tournament.
- With Christian Wilhelmsson going 61 minutes, Sweden were able to squeak by the Faroe Islands 2-1.
Down in Oceania
- New Zealand has yet to kick off against Tahiti, but New Caledonia leads Solomon Islands 6-2.