Last night, the Stars and Stripes won a critical World Cup Qualifier in Jamaica, 2-1. Brad Evans scored the winning goal in stoppage time, moments after a questionable goal from the Reggae Boys tied things up (replays showed the goal should have been waived off for offsides). The win puts the US in a tie atop the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Group just shy of the Hex's halfway point.
My three positives from last night's match:
1. Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore continue to shine
For the second match in a row, Zusi fed Altidore with a beautiful cross, which the enigmatic American forward once again netted for an important early goal to set the tone for the match. Zusi has been stellar for the better part of the last two matches, while Altidore's recent goal production seems to have sparked more effort in all other phases of his game. Zusi will miss the match Tuesday against Panama because he picked up a questionable yellow card late in last night's match. Let's hope someone can bring a similar level of threat to the US attack.
Altidore Goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFdQnBz4mqk
2. Michael Bradley remains the most important player on the pitch
While watching Belgium rout the US in Cleveland in person a couple weeks back, my mind wandered to consider how different the squad would have looked with Bradley in the midfield. Since his return, the US has controlled much more of the ball and the boys have seemed much more composed when threatened in the final third of the field. Clint Dempsey may be the USMNT captain, but Bradley is its most irreplaceable player.
3. The rest of the Hex schedule bodes well for the USMNT
The US plays its next two matches at home, with Panama in Seattle on Tuesday and Honduras in Utah on June 18. Four of the final six matches will be on home soil, which should benefit the USMNT in its quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Brad Evans Game-winning Goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8prjW6w-yow