It wasn't pretty. Aside from the result itself, it probably wasn't even all that encouraging. But this is the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Tournament -- The Hex -- and the only thing that matters is moving forward. After Brad Evans' glorious goal in the second minute of stoppage time that gave the United States a 2-1 win over Jamaica on Saturday, that's suddenly looking like a very strong possibility.
Until Evans' goal, though, this looked to be just another in a string of frustrating results under Jurgen Klinsmann. The United States had grabbed the early lead, on a Jozy Altidore goal, failed to build on it and surrendered the inevitable equalizer in the 89th minute. A tie wouldn't have been the end of the world, by any means, but a win really would have changed the complexion and taken quite a bit of pressure off these next two home qualifiers.
And that's just what Evans' goal did. With seven points in their pocket through four matches and four of their five home games still left to play, the road to Brazil suddenly looks very doable. Over the past four qualifying cycles, it has never taken more than 17 points to earn a spot in the finals. Simple math suggests the United States only needs 10 points from their remaining six matches to get there. If they can claim full points in each of their next two against Panama and Honduras, they'll be on 13 points and virtually lock up their spot.
Which is to say these upcoming matches are still very important. Failure to win either changes the math significantly. So, let's go ahead and take care of business, yeah?
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
JAM 0 1 1
USA - Jozy Altidore (Graham Zusi) 30th minute
JAM - Jermaine Beckford (Rodolph Austin) 89
USA - Brad Evans (Michael Bradley) 90+2
Lineups: USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Brad Evans 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 13-Jermaine Jones (20-Geoff Cameron, 59), 4-Michael Bradley; 19-Graham Zusi, 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson (2-Edgar Castillo, 76); 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Eddie Johnson, 83)
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Brad Guzan, 9-Terrence Boyd , 10-Joe Corona, 11-Stuart Holden, 14- Brad Davis, 15-Michael Parkhurst, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 22-Clarence Goodson Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
JAM: 1-Donovan Ricketts (capt.); 2-Daniel Gordon, 19-Adrian Mariappa, 5-Alvas Powell, 3-O'Brian Woodbine; 4-Marvin Elliott, 17-Rodolph Austin, 18-Jermaine Hue (7-Jermaine Beckford, 70), 22-Garath McCleary (16-Omar Daley, 75); 8-Jermaine Johnson (14-Theo Robinson, 68), 9-Ryan Johnson
Substitutions Not Used : 23-Andre Blake, 13-Dwayne Miller, 6-Montrose Phinn, 10-Keammar Daley, 11-Darren Mattocks, 12-Evan Taylor, 15-Je-Vaughn Watson, 20-Jeremie Lynch, 21- Damien Williams Head coach: Theodore Whitmore
Stats Summary: USA / JAM
Shots: 9 / 12
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Fouls: 8 / 10
Offside: 5 / 1
USA - Graham Zusi (caution) 88th minute
USA - Brad Evans (caution) 90+2
Referee: Roberto Moreno (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Keytzel Mojica (NIC)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Williamson (PAN)
Fourth Official: Jhon Pitti (PAN)
U.S. Men's National Team head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
On the win in Kingston:
"Obviously we are pleased with the result. Coming away with three points was our goal and we achieved that goal. We didn't plan it that way but that's what these games are about. It's always down to the wire and overall the team did well. It was a good performance and it showed again how difficult these games are in the Hexagonal."
On how the game progressed and how the team earned three points:
"Throughout some periods I thought we managed the game well and passed the ball well and were well organized. But some stretches we made it difficult for ourselves and let the opponent back in the game. Definitely the most important part was leaving this place with three points and going into two exciting home games that we're looking forward to."
On giving up a goal and bouncing back:
"We were frustrated [with the goal we gave up] because we talked all week about set pieces. Last September we came here and gave up two goals on set pieces and to have it happen again was frustrating. But it's important that this team gets the mentality to bounce back and to challenge themselves to win here and not look for a tie. We've said from the beginning we are ready to come into difficult places and want three points, so this is obviously a big plus for us."
On the Hexagonal:
"Every game is difficult. Panama will be very difficult in Seattle. We'll need big support from the fans and need total commitment in every one of these games. I think our team is good enough and has enough quality to qualify for the World Cup but we have to be ready for the battle, ready for different circumstances and places."
On Brad Evans playing right back:
"I think he's growing into his role. He understands that it's there for him to grab. He's finding his game, finding an understanding with the centerbacks and finding and understanding with the midfielders in front of him, in this case Graham Zusi. This is not happening overnight but we need to give him time to play that role. The moment was there for him tonight and we need to give him a compliment for that."
U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper TIM HOWARD
On the shift in momentum at the end of the game:
"That's football. I've been there 1,000 times. You feel as low as dirt than all of a sudden you feel like world-beaters. But it was a mature performance. Even though we were leading late on a point on the road isn't the worst thing, so we could have been content with that. But we pushed forward hunting for the second goal, got the corner, and obviously things happened from there."
U.S. Men's National Team defender BRAD EVANS
On getting three points in Jamaica:
"I think it was a good team effort playing in a place where we historically haven't gotten the results. It was great to get three points but I think everybody will say we can do a lot better in certain moments in the game to put ourselves in a bit of an easier position going into the second part of the second half. But overall everybody will be happy with three points."
On his winning goal:
"The last couple minutes we were throwing guys forward to try to get a goal. We took a quick free kick from Graham to [Michael] Bradley who was screaming his head off for the ball. He had a quick turn and found me on a good pass. I didn't think i'd be able to turn but I think I took two touches before I got the shot off. I think it took a little deflection and the 'keeper wasn't able to get his hands on it. The only thing in my mind was turn and shoot and that was it."
On the feeling after the goal went in:
"It's pure elation after the goal for sure, especially doing it front of our fans [at that end of the stadium]. It's a great feeling and I'm happy for the team that we got three points."
On playing right back for the USA:
"I don't look at it as a challenge, I look at it more as an opportunity. When my number is called, whatever the position, I'm ready to go and that goes the same for my club team. I'm a team first kind of guy and that's what I'll remain. I'm happy for the team first and foremost." - See more at: http://www.ussoccer.com/news/mens-national-team/2013/06/us-mnt-vs-jamaica-quote-sheet.aspx#sthash.wrNmhFba.dpuf