After the United States National Team lost to Jamaica, 2-1, in Kingston, Jamaica in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier on Friday, the US fan base went into full on Chicken Little - "The Sky is Falling!" - hysteria mode, fretting that the US would not make it to the Hexagonal Stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.
Last night in Columbus, Ohio, the US got a chance to redeem itself against Jamaica, which they did with a 1-0 win against a Jamaica side that came into the match clearly hoping for a 0-0 draw. Jamaica's "park the bus" approach to the match gave the US numerous shots on goal early in the first half, many of which were denied by the woodwork.
The winning goal finally came for the US in the 55th minute when Herculez Gomez got the ball by Jamaica's keeper on a gorgeous free kick. After the US goal, Jamaica finally turned up the heat offensively, but it was too little, too late as the US picked up the 3 points.
The US is now tied at the top of Group A with Guatemala and Jamaica on 7 points, but the US and Guatemala lead on goal differential. This stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying wraps up next month when the US heads to Antigua to play Antigua & Barbuda on October 12th and then hosts Guatemala in Kansas City, Kansas on October 16th.
One thing that has become increasingly evident in recent years is that CONCACAF is a much tougher Federation to play in as more players from the smaller countries, such as Jamaica, have gained valuable experience and development in leagues such as MLS. Last night's match was a reflection of this since Jamaica started 5 MLS players while the US only started 1 MLS player. This is a reality that fans of the US, and fans of Mexico, need to start accepting and coming to terms with.
The CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying structure is still weighted in favor of Mexico and the US, but said teams and their fans need to stop underestimating the other CONCACAF teams. That's a lesson the US learned this past Friday.