USMNT's Jurgen Klinsmann: World Cup qualifiers always come down to the wire
KINGSTON, Jamaica – A late defensive lapse nearly cost the US national team. But Brad Evans's stoppage-time winner rescued the day, earning the Americans a 2-1 win over Jamaica in World Cup qualifying here on Friday night.
“Coming away with three points was our goal and we achieved our goal,” USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said after the match. “We didn't plan it that way, conceding a goal in the last minute, in stoppage time, and scoring another one. But that's what those games are all about. Those are always down to the wire."
Those games are World Cup qualifiers in CONCACAF, a far cry from the more refined type of qualifying matches Klinsmann took part in as a player for Germany now. The three guaranteed World Cup berths in the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings are still up for grabs, and after the win in Jamaica, the United States are in second place, behind leaders Costa Rica on goal differential after four matches.
But Klinsmann wasn't entirely happy with the performance.
"Throughout some periods of the game we managed the game well, we passed the ball around well and were well organized," he said. "Some stretches, we kind of made it a bit too difficult for ourselves.”
The major difficulty came in the final stretch, when the US gave up an 89th-minute equalizer. The US defense has recently struggled to defend crosses, particularly on set pieces, and again Jermaine Beckford, left wide open in the goalmouth, nodded Rodolph Austin's inswinging free kick past goalkeeper Tim Howard.
“It was a weird play on the goal,” US center back Omar Gonzalez said. “I thought that we were trying to hold our line and keep them offside because they had a bunch of guys offside. And when they hit it, no one really dropped and there were a lot of free guys there in the middle."
The play left Klinsmann "frustrated," particularly coming after US gave up a goal on a free kick in the friendly against Germany.
“We were talking the whole week about set pieces,” he said.
Gonzalez put it more plainly about about the late lapse: “We could do better.”