Brad Evans of Sounders FC scored in the second minute of second-half stoppage time, giving the United States a thrilling 2-1 victory over Jamaica in Kingston on Friday night that solidified the U.S. team’s chances of qualifying for next year’s World Cup.
Jozy Altidore put the United States ahead in the 30th minute, but Jermaine Beckford tied the score off a free kick in the 89th as the U.S. team again failed to hold a lead on the road.
A little more than a minute into four minutes of stoppage time, Michael Bradley quickly played a corner kick to Graham Zusi, who gave the ball right back. Bradley faked around Alvas Powell and Evans got the ball.
With three Jamaicans about 5 yards from him, Evans spun and beat goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from about 8 yards.
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“It was a totally blind shot,” Evans said. “The only thing in my mind was turn and shoot. That was it.”
Evans, who received a yellow card for pulling his jersey over his head in celebration, said, “Pure elation after the goal, for sure. I had no idea it was stoppage time.”
It was the first international goal for Evans, starting at right back because Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler weren’t available.
“They’re dire moments.” said Evans, who was making his first World Cup qualifying match start. “There’s still work to be done. I think we can do better at certain moments and I think everybody will tell you that from the top down. So there’s still work to be done. But three points, on the road, in a place we haven’t won, is pretty special.”
Evans had a breakout match at right back Sunday in the Americans’ 4-3 exhibition victory over Germany in Washington, D.C.
Starting a stretch of three qualifiers in 12 days, the United States (2-1-1) improved to seven points in the 10-match final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, trailing Costa Rica (2-1-1) on goal difference and ahead of Mexico (1-0-4) on goals scored.
In other CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers Friday, Costa Rica won 1-0 at home against Honduras and Mexico tied 0-0 at Panama (1-0-3), which has six points.
The United States faces Panama on Tuesday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
The top three nations in the six-team competition qualify for next year’s 32-nation tournament in Brazil, and the No. 4 team meets New Zealand in a playoff for another World Cup berth.
The United States had been 0-4-1 in qualifiers at The Office, as Kingston’s stadium is known, and the team had wasted leads in four of its previous five road qualifiers under coach Jurgen Klinsmann along with a 0-0 tie at Mexico, going 1-2-2 in those matches.
“It’s a very, very difficult place to come in,” Klinsmann said. “The game was a real fight.”
Coaching his 28th match since taking over from Bob Bradley in July 2011, Klinsmann started the same lineup in consecutive games for the first time with the United States. But three in a row won’t happen.
U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones suffered a concussion during a corner-kick scramble in the second half, and Altidore walked off gingerly in the 83rd minute and pointed to his left hamstring.
Zusi will be suspended for one match for yellow-card accumulation after his foul led to a free kick and Jamaica’s goal.
“The script couldn’t have been better with Brad Evans, then going out to Seattle,” Klinsmann said.
Bradley nearly scored in the second minute, sending a 20-yard right-footed shot off the post to the right of Ricketts.