Brad Evans saved the United States from another deflating World Cup qualifier on the road.
Jermaine Beckford tied the score in the 89th minute as the American defense again stumbled on a restart. But Evans, a midfielder/defender for the Seattle Sounders, scored an unlikely goal in the second minute of second-half stoppage time, giving the U.S. a thrilling 2-1 win over Jamaica in Kingston, Jamaica, on Friday night that solidified the Americans’ chances of qualifying for next year’s World Cup.
“It was a totally blind shot,” Evans said. “The only thing in my mind was turn and shoot. That was it.”
Jozy Altidore scored for the second straight game, putting the Americans ahead in the 30th minute with a header off Graham Zusi’s cross. They had scored the first goal in four of five previous road qualifiers under coach Jurgen Klinsmann but were only 1-2-1 in those matches.
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It looked as if they would drop points again when an unmarked Beckford beat goalkeeper Tim Howard with a close-range header from Rodolph Austin’s 40-yard free kick. In wasting an early lead during a semifinal-round loss at Jamaica last September, the U.S. allowed both goals off corner kicks.
But just over a minute into four minutes of stoppage time, Michael Bradley quickly played an American corner kick short to Zusi. He gave the ball right back, and Bradley faked around Alvas Powell and slid a left-footed shot to Evans.
Evans had his back to the goal with Beckford, O’Brian Woodbine and Daniel Gordon about 5 yards from him when he stopped the ball with his left foot. He then turned and kicked the ball with his right foot over goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from about 8 yards, a shot that may have taken a slight deflection of the sliding Woodbine.
“Pure elation after the goal, for sure,” said Evans, who received a yellow card for pulling his jersey over his head. “I had no idea it was stoppage time.”
It was the first goal in 10 international appearances for Evans, a midfielder starting at right back. Evans got the start because Steve Cherundolo is resting after a knee injury sidelined him from December to April, and Timmy Chandler tore a left knee ligament last month.
“It makes traveling a little easier,” Klinsmann said. “What’s important is that this team now gets more and more the mentality to bounce back and to kind challenge themselves to win here, not to look for a tie. We said that from the beginning, we are ready now to come into a difficult place like Kingston and say we want the three points.”