KINGSTON, Jamaica (June 20, 2004) — The U.S. Men's National Team earned a gritty 1-1 draw at Jamaica to open the semifinal round of FIFA World Cup qualifying in front of a packed house at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The tie for the U.S. came courtesy of an 89th minute strike from second-half sub Brian Ching, his first for the USA, and the game was typical of the highs-and-lows of the World Cup qualifying campaign that awaits the U.S. on their road to Germany 2006.
On Ching’s goal, which came in just his third cap for the U.S., the Hawaiian forward ripped a shot from close range into the upper right corner of the goal after Landon Donovan had perfectly controlled a deflected cross into the area from Cobi Jones and calmly laid the ball off to his right for his San Jose Earthquakes strike partner.
“Once I got in the stadium and heard the crowd, I was very excited to play,” said Ching following his game-saving heroics. “I wasn’t nervous. I’m happy to be able to contribute. On the goal, Cobi made a great cross and I heard Landon say ‘leave it,’ and the ball hit a defender and went straight to his feet and I think he surprised everyone by passing the ball and I just tried to put it on goal. This is a critical time in my career, and hopefully I will get another opportunity in qualifying.”
Despite falling behind 1-0 in the game’s 49th minute, the U.S. was able to keep their all-time unbeaten record against Jamaica intact with the tie. That mark now stands at 8-0-6, which includes a 2-0-5 mark in World Cup qualifying play. Dating back to 1988, the U.S. and Jamaica have now battled to four consecutive World Cup qualifying draws at “The Office.”
The late goal for the U.S. also marked the fourth time in 2004 that the United States has scored after the 75th minute to earn a come-from behind tie. In all, nine of the 16 U.S. goals this year have come after the 75th minute of play, with four of those goals tying matches and the two others being game-winners.
“I’m very pleased with the result,” said U.S. manager Bruce Arena. “The team had an excellent game. Even if we had lost 1-0 I would have said we played well. Defensively we were very solid. These are what road games look like. Jamaica did a good job of making things difficult for us, especially in the first half, but I thought our team responded well. I told the team at halftime that I thought the second half would go in our favor, but giving up the early goal obviously put us under pressure. The team showed a lot of class staying in the game, and I think we deserve the draw.”
Jamaica’s second half lead came courtesy of a well-placed corner kick into the area from captain Theodore Whitmore that defender Ian Goodison headed home with one bounce past goalkeeper Kasey Keller. The goal came in the 49th minute, just moments after the corner kick had been set up following an errant pass from defender Greg Vanney in the midfield that sprung Jamaica on a counterattack.
Following the goal, the U.S. was able to generate a number of chances before finally breaking through in the games final minute. In the 55th minute, some nice combination play from captain Claudio Reyna, Donovan and Brian McBride almost got the U.S. even, with McBride hitting a rocket one-time shot from 20 yards just inches over the bar. Donovan set-up the shot for McBride with a brilliant layoff of a looping pass from Reyna across the top of the penalty area.
Perhaps the best chance of the game for the U.S. occurred in the 63rd minute after Reyna freed Vanney down the left flank and he crossed a perfect ball into the area for Ching, who headed his open attempt just wide of the right post. The shot for Ching was his first touch of the game having come on for McBride just two minutes earlier.
The U.S. had another good chance in the 86th minute when Eddie Lewis got behind his defender and was barely able to flick a shot toward goal that Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts got a hand on before all three players collided and tumbled to the turf.
The first half was as even as the second half, with Jamaica dominating most of the early moments, but the U.S. piling up the chances in the latter stages. On one of those chances, a strong build-up from the U.S. midfield saw Reyna get free on the left side of the area, where he played a ball to the middle of the area for McBride who dropped a ball just behind the on-rushing Donovan, killing the U.S. attack.
A few minutes later, in the 41st minute, the U.S. had another chance going forward as Donovan played an excellent cross field one-time ball to Stewart in the area on a two-on-one break, but Ricketts did well to anticipate the pass and flew off his line to confidently smother the ball 12 yards out.
Jamaica’s best chance in the first half came in the 13th minute when crafty forward Marlon King turned on a ball at the penalty spot and hit a right-footer just wide of the goal. The play was set up by a nice touch pass from inside the area by defender Tyrone Marshall after a free kick from the left flank.
“The game started turning after 25 or 30 minutes and obviously they didn’t have the same energy they showed in the beginning,” added Arena. “We showed good team spirit and the team never put their heads down. They knew what they had to do and they got after it.”
For midfielder Earnie Stewart, who started the game and went 67 minutes, the appearance extended his all-time U.S. record to 30 World Cup qualifying appearances, while Jones increased his total to 27. The appearance was also the 161st of Jones’ career, and the second appearance for the USA’s all-time cap leader since the 2002 World Cup.
“Cobi is still a good player,” said Arena. “Cobi and Earnie are guys that can still help us in this phase. No question about it. The goal is to qualify for the World Cup and they can help us to try and get there.”
The USA’s six-game, round-robin group continues with the U.S. at home against El Salvador on Sept. 4 in Foxboro, Mass. (live on Fox Sports World & Telemundo at 4 p.m. ET), and on the road on Sept. 8 in Panama (live on Fox Sports World at 8 p.m. CT and delayed on Telemundo). The four-team group concludes for the U.S. with a road game on Oct. 9 in El Salvador and then consecutive home games on Oct. 13 against Panama in Washington, D.C., and Nov. 17 against Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio.
Elsewhere in Group A action in the USA’s semifinal round qualifying group, El Salvador defeated Panama 2-1. With the victory, El Salvador sits atop Group A with three points.
– U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report –
Match-up: USA vs. Jamaica
Date: August 18, 2004
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF Semifinal Round
Venue: National Stadium – Kingston, Jamaica
Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. CT
Attendance: 27,000 (SO)
Weather: 87 degrees, humid, windy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
Jamaica 0 1 1
JAM – Ian Goodison (Theodore Whitmore) 49th minute.
USA – Brian Ching (Landon Donovan) 89.
USA — 18-Kasey Keller; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 23-Eddie Pope, 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 3-Greg Vanney; 10-Claudio Reyna (capt.), 14-Chris Armas (7-Eddie Lewis, 77), 8-Earnie Stewart (13-Cobi Jones, 68), 17-DaMarcus Beasley; 20-Brian McBride (25-Brian Ching, 61), 21-Landon Donovan
Subs not used: 24-Jonny Walker, 5-Kerry Zavagnin, 6-Steve Cherundolo, 12-Cory Gibbs
JAM — 30-Donovan Ricketts; 22-Fabian Davis, 5-Ian Goodison, 25-Claude Davis, 15-Ricardo Gardner; 8-Micah Hyde, 14-Tyrone Marshall, 11-Theodore Whitmore (capt.), 9-Andy Williams; 6-Marlon King (10-Ricardo Fuller, 67), 20-Damani Ralph
Subs not used: 13-Aaron Lawrence, 3-Damion Stewart, 12-Jermaine Johnson, 16-Richard Langley, 18-Deon Burton, 21-Kevin Lisbie
Stats Summary: USA JAM
Shots 12 12
Shots on Goal 6 2
Saves 1 4
Corner Kicks 4 3
Fouls 7 15
Offside 0 4
JAM – Fabian Davis (caution) 59th minute.
Referee: William Mattus (CRC)
1st Assistant: Edgar Mora Bolanos (CRC)
2nd Assistant: Leonel Leal Bermudez (CRC)
Fourth Official: Greiven Arturo Porras Quiros (CRC)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Brian Ching
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF Semifinal Round
Group A Standings
Group A Schedule