The United States got off to a lightning-fast start, but couldn't make it count as they fell 2-1 to Jamaica in a World Cup qualifier in Kingston on Friday night thanks to free kicks on either side of the half.
Clint Dempsey gave the US their fastest-ever World Cup qualifying goal, tucking home a rebound after 35 seconds, but Jamaica backed up fine strikes from Rodolph Austin and Luton Shelton with solid midfield work to grab an important win.
The three points take Jamaica to the top of Group A on seven points with the US in second on four points, pending the result between Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda, on one point each.
Almost immediately after kickoff, Maurice Edu found Herculez Gomez running down the right channel, and after the Santos Laguna man hammered away without success, his rebound eventually fell to a wide open Clint Dempsey, who gave the US the early lead.
Jamaica composed themselves well after the goal, though, harrying the visitors in the midfield without creating too many serious chances of their own. However, where the Jamaican midfield failed at creating chances, the US gave them a golden opportunity when Kyle Beckerman brought down Rodolph Austin 30 yards from goal.
Austin had sent his blast just over seven minutes earlier, but this time he made no mistake, snagging the equalizer in the 23rd minute. The midfielder blasted a free kick through the wall, where it took a slight deflection off Beckerman and skipped under Tim Howard.
The United States' best move came towards the end of the first half as Michael Parkhurst slipped down the right-hand sdie and put in a low cross. Edu laid it off for Dempsey, but the new Tottenham Hotspur signee's sliding finishing was too close to Jamaica goalkeeper Dwayne Miller.
The chance was the US' best shot in the game to snap their hex at Independence Park, where they have yet to beat Jamaica.
And despite a positive end to the first half, the United States struggled out of the gates in the second half, and the rash of fouls they gave away game back to haunt them as Shelton struck again just after the hour mark.
A foul from Edu led to another set piece opportunity for Jamaica, and this time Shelton stepped up and curled home a superb free kick that clipped the inside of the post to give the Reggae Boyz the lead just past the hour mark.
Jamaica continued to stymie the US, even as the visitors pushed forward the final minutes, defending resolutely to claim the three points as the US were unable to generate a single clean look on net.
The two sides will clash again in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 11, with an 8 pm ET kickoff on ESPN2.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Rodolph Austin||A step ahead of the US the whole game. Played smartly, blasted home a free kick for Jamaica's first and drew the foul that lead to Jamaica's second|
|2||Luton Shelton||A handful for the US defense throughout his time on the field, curled home a beautiful free kick to give Jamaica the win.|
|3||Herculez Gomez||The US' most persistent attacker, it was his sustained effort that led to the opening tally|