Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Members of the United State’s men’s national soccer team like to think of Crew Stadium as home. The American’s most recent visit to Columbus is yet another example of why there’s no place like home.
The U.S. improved its all-time record at Crew Stadium to 6-0-3 with a 1-0 win against Jamaica in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match Tuesday. American forward Herculez Gomez struck a set-piece goal in the 55th minute to give the Americans a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard also helped keep a shutout intact for the Americans, who avenged their 2-1 loss to Jamaica on Friday in Kingston, Jamaica.
With the win, the U.S. moves into a three-way tie for first-place in its World Cup qualifying group with Jamaica and Guatemala. The Guatemalans defeated Antigua and Barbuda Tuesday, 1-0, to keep pace in the group, from which only the top two teams can advance in World Cup qualifying.
The Americans will resume World Cup qualifying Oct. 12 with a game against the group’s last-place team, Antigua and Barbuda, in St. John’s, Antigua.
Crew Stadium was a powder keg and the U.S. came close to lighting the fuse numerous times in the first half. Chance after chance went just wide of Jamaican keeper Dwayne Miller’s goal.
American midfielder Graham Zusi set the tone for the first half when he clanked an 18-yard shot off the upper right corner of Miller’s goal, which was besieged in the first half.
All told, three U.S. shots caromed off the posts of Miller’s net by the time 30 minutes had passed. Other U.S. attempts whistled wide as the American fans standing on temporary bleachers waited to erupt.
Howard, by comparison, wasn’t tested once in the opening half, and his teammates kept the pressure up on the other end of the field, outshooting Jamaica, 8-0, in the opening 45 minutes.
Jamaica was barely hanging on, but the Americans weren’t able to break through and the teams went to half in a scoreless tie.
Fans remained at a roar as the second half began and before long, the moment the entire stadium had been waiting for finally arrived in the 55th minute.
After the U.S. earned a free kick from about 25 yards out, Gomez stepped to the ball and bent his kick around a wall of Jamaican defenders. Miller made a full-stretch lunge to save the shot, but could only manage to get part of his left hand on Gomez’s rip from distance.
The white twine of the net rippled and Gomez had put the U.S. up, 1-0, to spark Crew Stadium to life.
From there on out, it was all defense for the U.S. and few additional offensive chances.
Howard and his backline of defenders managed to deal with Jamaica’s three second-half shot. In the midfield, Jermaine Jones, a dual citizen of America and Germany, pushed and muscled his way around the field to stop the Jamaican attacks. Jamaica never had a shot on goal.
In the 82nd minute, Howard skied to tip a seemingly threatening corner kick away from the mouth of his goal, and most of the 23,881 still in attendance roared with approval.
Jamaica, nicknamed the “Reggae Boyz,” wouldn’t mount another serious attack.
After three minutes of extra time, Honduran referee Jose Pineda blew his whistle to end the game and send the packed stadium into one final frenzied cheer.