Zusi sparks U.S. soccer team’s 2-0 win over Jamaica at Sporting Park


KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A berth in the 2014 World Cup already assured, the United States Men’s National Team was playing for pride on Friday night at Sporting Park.

Pride won.

Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi, a second-half substitute, drilled a shot past Jamaica goalkeeper DuWayne Kerr that sparked the United States to a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in a World Cup qualifying match in front of a sellout crowd of 18,467 chanting fans.

With the match appearing headed for a scoreless draw, the U.S. struck for two goals within a four-minute span.

Zusi’s goal in the 77th minute was set up by the United States’ Alejandro Bedoya, who hustled and maintained possession on the right flank before centering a pass to Zusi at the top of the penalty area.

Zusi cranked the shot past Jamaica goalkeeper DuWayne Kerr, who had no chance at a save. It was Zusi’s second career international goal.

Four minutes later, Jozy Altidore caught the Jamaica defense standing still and converted a cross from Edgar Castillo for the clinching goal. It was Altidore’s fourth goal of the qualifying cycle.

With the win, the United States ran its record to 6-2-1 in the Hexagonal with one more match to play, on Oct. 15 at Panama. The U.S. is 5-0-0 at home, and has outscored its opponents 8-0 in the home matches.

Jamaica, last in the group, fell to 0-5-4.

Zusi joined Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler on the pitch when he replaced Landon Donovan at the start of the second half.

Zusi nearly created a scoring opportunity in the 61st minute when he sent a free kick into the penalty area that Altidore settled and knocked to the middle, but Jermaine Jones couldn’t control the ball and didn’t get off a shot in front of the frame.

Jamaica’s Deshorn Brown broke through the U.S. defense, forcing goalkeeper Tim Howard off his line for a save in the 52nd minute. Howard also had to make a nice save on Darren Mattocks’ header in the 67th minute.

Mix Diskerud threatened to score in the 72nd minute, but his hurried shot missed the mark to the left.

The Jamaicans threw a scare into the U.S. early when a ball rolled behind Howard in the fifth minute, but defender Brad Evans cleared it before it crossed the goal line.

Howard also had an early, but routine save on a shot by Jamaica’s Joel McAnuff 10 minutes into the match.

But the United States had the better of the play and most good chances in the first half.

DaMarcus Beasley forced a turnover in the Jamaican zone in the 17th minute but his shot sailed wide. Aron Johannsson’s shot from outside the penalty area was saved by Jamaican goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr. Johannsson’s header from a corner kick by Donovan sailed high of the goal.

Jamaica’s Rodolph Austin’s low free kick from about 25 yards in the 35th minute was just outside post to the right of Howard.

Bedoya hit a bouncer that was saved by Kerr in the 44th minute, and Mattocks struck a similar shot that Howard smothered in the 45th minute.