U.S. team holds off Jamaica, 1-0
Herculez Gomez scored in the 55th minute of the World Cup qualifier.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The fans carried Herculez Gomez, and he helped carry the United States to a significant World Cup qualifying victory.
The U.S. team rebounded from a loss at Jamaica last week and moved back into a tie for its group lead by beating the Reggae Boyz, 1-0, on Tuesday night.
Gomez curled in a free kick in the 55th minute for all the offense the Americans needed on a night of high emotion and red, white and blue support.
"That was an awesome homecoming," Gomez said. "You couldn't ask for more. The crowd was great, and the guys fed off of it."
After hitting the frame three times in a dominant first half as Jamaica goalkeeper Dwayne Miller made several sparkling saves, the United States went ahead after Clint Dempsey was fouled by Rodolph Austin. Gomez's drive from 28 yards went over the defensive wall and to the left of a diving Miller, who was only able to lightly brush the ball with his fingertips.
"That was my distance," Gomez said with a grin.
He knew what it meant the instant the ball found the net.
"It was important for us to regroup after what happened in Jamaica," Gomez said of the 2-1 loss in Kingston on Friday night. "We knew it wasn't our best performance and we had to step forward and apply today. With the help of the crowd, we pushed deep and persevered."
A rowdy, partisan crowd of 23,881 erupted into chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" on a night when American players said they were thinking about the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fans received small American flags to commemorate the anniversary and there was a moment of silence before kickoff.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann spoke after the game of having New York City firefighters talk to the team on Monday night after dinner.
The United States, which made five changes to its starting lineup, is tied with Guatemala (2-1-1) at seven points in Group A of the North and Central American and Caribbean semifinals. Jamaica (2-1-1) also has seven points but trails on goal difference.
The top two nations advance to next year's six-team regional finals, which will produce three qualifiers for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
Seeking its seventh straight World Cup appearance, the United States plays at virtually eliminated Antigua and Barbuda (0-3-1) on Oct. 12, then completes the semis four days later against Guatemala in Kansas City, Kan.