It wasn’t nearly as electric as the win over Mexico. Nor was it a loss, either.
Tim Weah scored in the 11th minute, and the U.S. men’s national soccer team hung on for a 1-1 tie over Jamaica in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday. The Americans caught a break when Jamaica’s would-be game-winner in the 84th minute was waved off for interference.
“Jamaica is a physical team. They were in desperation mode to get a point if not three,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “It was good to limit them to a point.”
The USMNT dropped to second in the Concacaf standings, a point behind Canada after Canada upset Mexico 2-1 at Edmonton’s Estadio Iceteca. But with six qualifiers left, just two points separate the top four teams.
Concacaf’s top three teams will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar, with the fourth-place team going to a playoff.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” Berhalter said. “The next window is going to be important.”
The Americans played their best game in years in Friday night’s win over Mexico. Berhalter and his players had all talked about the young team not having a letdown against Jamaica, especially since they were short-handed.
Weston McKennie and Miles Robinson were unavailable because of yellow card accumulation, and Christian Pulisic was on limited minutes again as he comes back from a sprained ankle that kept him out for two months.
If not quite a letdown, it wasn’t the sharpest the U.S. men have looked.
They started strong with Weah, who Berhalter called his man of the match Friday, continuing to show he’s a force to be reckoned with.
He was able to fight off a double-team in the box, and his left-footed shot froze Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake just long enough. Blake, who was on one knee and leaning to his left, tried to shift his weight and threw out his right arm in hopes of getting a piece of the ball, but it rolled beneath him to give the USMNT a 1-0 lead in the 11th.
It was Weah’s second goal with the USMNT, and came in the country where his mother, Clar, was born.
“It felt good being back. Happy to get the goal against them but unfortunately we didn’t get the full points,” Weah said. “But we take the one point and we continue.”
The Americans threatened to add another goal five minutes later, with Blake having to deflect shots by Ricardo Pepi and then Brenden Aaronson.
The saves proved huge in the 22nd, when Michail Antonio beat Tyler Adams and unleashed a banger from 34 yards out that Zack Steffen had no chance of stopping. Of the 53 goals Antonio had scored previously, for both club and country, all had come from inside the box.
Momentum shifted with the goal, and the Americans were lucky to escape with the draw. Bobby Reid missed a sitter, and the USMNT caught a huge break in the 84th, when Damion Lowe’s would-be game-winner was called off.
Replays showed Lowe had a hand on Walker Zimmerman as they jockeyed for position in front of the goal during a corner kick.
“It was all in our hands,” Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said. “The guys kept their head, stayed in the game, managed to equalize and I think we could have gone on and won the game. Numerous opportunities presented itself, but we didn’t capitalize on it. Such is the nature of the game.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USMNT, Jamaica play to draw in Concacaf World Cup qualifier