WASHINGTON — Jermaine Jones scored, then saluted and the United States national team reached the semifinals of the Gold Cup after a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in RFK Stadium.
The midfielder tallied in the 49th minute after the Americans dominated the opening stanza but failed to find the back of the net due to a combination of poor finishing and outstanding play from Donovan Ricketts.
Clint Dempsey's 80th-minute walk-in goal put the match away for the US, who will play the Panama in the semifinals in a rematch of a 2-1 group-stage loss to the Canaleros.
An early injury to Jozy Altidore forced Bob Bradley's hand. The forward pulled up short in the 10th minute with a hamstring strain. Juan Agudelo replaced Altidore, who was stretchered off the field.
With the US maintaining pressure, Rodolph Austin picked up the match's first caution in the 16th minute for a hard challenge on Sacha Kljestan.
Ten minutes later, it was the Americans' turn to see yellow. Jermaine Jones earned it after tripping Austin, who was facing his own net in the Reggae Boyz half of the field.
The US dominated the run of play for the remainder of the opening 45 minutes but could not manage to beat Ricketts despite repeated attempts from Agudelo, Dempsey, Kljestan, and Alejandro Bedoya. The Jamaican 'keeper made fives saves in the period, but his play was more influential than the stat sheet would indicate.
The tie did not last long after halftime. Eric Lichaj's right-footed cross from the left flank was headed out past the 18-yard box by Jermaine Taylor, but Jones raced to the rebound and drilled it back toward the cage. Ricketts looked to have the shot covered, but it deflected off an unbalanced Jamaican defender and into the back of the goal.
After his strike, Jones saluted in celebration, a touching Father's Day tribute to his serviceman dad.
In the 64th minute, JeVaughn Watson replaced Eric Vernan, with Landon Donovan coming on for an impressive Bedoya. The LA Galaxy star made news before the match as he started on the bench after returning from his sister's wedding in California at 7 am on Sunday.
In the 67th minute, Jamaica lost a player. The move started with a US break led by Dempsey. Two Reggae Boyz intercepted his throughball from behind the midfield stripe but it fell to Jones, who exploded toward goal. He was in the clear, but perhaps clipped from behind by Taylor at the last second. Referee Marco Rodriguez blew his whistle and had no choice but to send the Jamaican off early.
Jones, carrying a yellow, came off in the 75th for Maurice Edu.
Dempsey tallied his second goal of the Gold Cup with a tap-in with 10 minutes remaining. After Donovan found Agudelo streaking down the right side of the field, the teenager split an exhausted and demoralized Jamaican back line. His pass found the Fulham midfielder who dribbled around Ricketts before touching the ball into the cage.
USA -- Jermaine Jones (unassisted) 49
USA -- Clint Dempsey (Juan Agudelo) 80
JAM -- Rodolph Austin (caution; Reckless Tackle) 16
USA -- Jermaine Jones (caution; Reckless Foul) 26
JAM -- Jermaine Taylor (ejection; Denied Goal Scoring Opportunity (Foul)) 67
Jamaica -- Donovan Ricketts, Jermaine Taylor, Shavar Thomas, Adrian Reid, Demar Phillips, Eric Vernan (Jevaughn Watson 64), Rodolph Austin, Jason Morrison (Keammar Daley 69), Dane Richards, Ryan Johnson, Luton Shelton (Omar Daley 74).
Substitutes Not Used: Dwayne Miller, Navion Boyd, Richard Edwards, Damion Williams.
United States -- Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Eric Lichaj, Sacha Kljestan, Jermaine Jones (Maurice Edu 75), Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya (Landon Donovan 65), Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore (Juan Agudelo 12).
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Jonathan Bornstein, Tim Ream, Freddy Adu.
Referee: Marco Rodriguez
Referee's Assistants: Jose Luis Camargo; Alberto Morin
4th Official: Walter Lopez
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Cloudy and 84 degrees