Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Night to Remember as USMNT Beats Jamaica in World Cup Qualifier

It has been 36 hours since the end of the USMNT's victory over Jamaica in the September 11 World Cup Qualifier in Columbus...and I'm just starting to regain my voice! I have never attended a sporting event where the fan base was as loud and passionate, and I've been to some great ones like Ohio State hosting Texas in front of 100,000+ screaming fans at the Horseshoe and the Browns beating the Steelers in front of 70,000+ fans in primetime to knock their arch-rivals out of the playoff race. The enthusiasm I experienced sitting with my fellow American Outlaws was at a different level, especially on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. The patriotic, sold out crowd of nearly 24,000 fans was amazing. Many members of the national media and players shared how pleased they were with the crowd, including US goalkeeper Tim Howard who said:

"It was awesome. 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. Hats off to the fans and people in Columbus and that’s not the first time; it’s happened over-and-over. We really feel that pride and home-field advantage and we don’t get that everywhere.” (Quote courtesy of US Soccer)

Most importantly, of course, the USMNT defeated Jamaica in what was a crucial semi-final round qualifying match. Herculez Gomez scored the only goal of the game on a free-kick in the 55th minute that was struck perfectly, curling into the net past the Jamaican goalkeeper. The US outplayed Jamaica throughout the match, except for a few moments near the end when the boys may have been exhausted by the sheer emotion of the night and the visitors played with more desperation to score a tying goal. The US could have been up by a couple goals at halftime, as near misses off the crossbar and post were just a fraction off.

The result of the victory is that the USMNT now lead the semifinal qualifying group on goal differential over Jamaica and Guatemala. The final two matches of this qualifying round are Oct. 12 at Antigua & Barbuda and Oct. 16 Guatemala in Kansas City. Two wins automatically qualify the US for the final qualifying round, called the Hexagonal because there are six teams in that round that each play against each other once on the road and once at home. A win and a tie, and the US will likely be in as well.

Finally, here are some photos I took from the day and night at Crew Stadium that I will never forget:

Tailgating with my boys, Anthony and Dave

Pre-game flag waving

Crowd revving up just before kickoff

Post-game on the field!

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