Timothy Weah’s early strike was canceled out by a blistering goal from Michail Antonio as the United States men’s national team left Independence Park in Kingston with a frustrating draw on Tuesday night to wrap up the 2022 World Cup qualifiers for this year.
After an encouraging 2-0 win over Mexico on a cold and rainy night in Cincinnati, Ohio, last Friday, the young American squad headed down to the hot and humid climes of the Caribbean in hopes of maintaining their momentum as they sat atop the CONCACAF World Cup standings. However, they didn’t seem to click on this night and there were signs of sluggishness before the final whistle.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter made just a few changes to the starting eleven as he went with a 4-3-3 formation. Chris Richards filled in for the suspended Miles Robinson at center-back, teaming with Walker Zimmerman. Gianluca Busio got the nod in midfield as Weston McKennie missed out due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
The Americans started off positively in the first few minutes of the contest and scored the opening goal after 11 minutes when Weah played a one-two with Ricardo Pepe before dribbling the ball in the area and outmuscling a defender to slot the ball home past Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake.
The visitors had an excellent chance to double their lead four minutes later when an attempt by Pepe was blocked by a defender and then allowed Brenden Aaronson to pounce on the loose ball and have a crack. However, Blake made a quick recovery to make a diving save to his left.
Jamaica, who have their own dual nationals to call upon, found the equalizer in the 22nd minute through Antonio as he collected the ball just past the midfield and made a darting run before blasting a shot from long range that Zack Steffen, or any other goalkeeper, could not stop.
The decision by CONCACAF to not use the video assistant referee came into question once again as the first half was winding down when Tyler Adams was on the wrong end of a two-footed tackle from Javain Brown. Replays showed how dangerous the tackle was and a red card would have certainly been warranted if there were other eyes monitoring the game.
Entering the second half, the U.S. had a chance to retake the lead in the 51st minute when Busio sent a curling shot towards goal, but the ball did not dip in time to challenge Blake. At the other end, they almost surrendered the go-ahead to the Jamaicans but were fortunate that Bobby Reid’s nerves got to him as he sent his close-range attempt well over the goal.
Berhalter would go to his bench for reinforcements as the team started to tire, but they could not find that spark to steal all three points.
They were fortunate that VAR was not in play as Jamaica would have had a strong argument in the 84th minute when Damion Lowe headed in what could have been the game-winning goal. However, the referee would call it back as he called a foul on Lowe. Replays showed little contact, but the decision was already made.
The U.S. left Jamaica with a point and a lot to think about before the qualifiers start up again in January 2022.
With the draw, the team has dropped to second place in the standings with 15 points, a point behind their northern neighbors Canada who beat Mexico.