KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Jamaica's dream of making it to another FIFA World Cup Finals went up in smoke yesterday when they lost 0-2 to hosts USA before a capacity crowd at Sporting Park here.
USA substitute Graham Zusi gave his team the opening goal in the 77th minute and Jozy Altidore put the icing on the cake three minutes later.
Jamaica came into the contest clinging to thin hopes, which would require a victory and hoping that the late fixture last night between Mexico and Panama would end in a draw. The result of that Mexico City match is no longer significant in the scheme of things, from a Jamaican perspective, but in the other final-round game, Honduras moved closer to securing the third automatic place when they edged the already qualified Costa Rica 1-0 on a Jerry Bengston strike at home in San Pedro Sula. They are now on 14 points, and need just one more to ensure qualification.
The Reggae Boyz were hoping to clinch the fourth-place play-off spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign. They will now have to look to Russia 2018, but first they have to complete their fixture with a home match against Honduras inside the National Stadium on Tuesday.
Hopefully, the Boyz can end their failed campaign on a high with a victory over the Central Americans. They owe it to a disappointed nation.
Last night's win moved the USA, who came into the match already bound to Brazil, to 19 points, while Jamaica remained interred at the bottom of the six-nation tournament on four points -- five losses and four draws.
At press time Panama and Mexico, on eight points each, were due for a late showdown.
At Sporting Park, the USA threatened seriously for the first time in the 17th minute when Deshorn Brown was dispossessed deep into his own area by DeMarcus Beasley, who darted into the box as a path opened up for him, but his final shot deflected off a Jamaican and went for a corner.
From the resulting spot kick taken by Landon Donovan, Aron Johannsson's firmly hit shot flew wide.
The USA came forward once again in minute 20 after the Boyz squandered possession in a volatile area, but thankfully Jermaine Jones was wasteful.
In the 25th minute, Jamaica whipped up a delicious-looking spell of possession, slowly driving forward with Rodolph Austin, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brown and Jobi McAnuff, with the latter finishing off the move with a blistering right-footer, but goalkeeper Tim Howard got his body behind the ball to avert danger.
Emerging from a spell of Jamaican pressure, Vancouver Whitecaps' Darren Mattocks, who had commenced a probing run into the opponents' area, was cut down and the referee stopped play. From 20 yards, on-duty captain Austin unleashed the resulting free kick that went inches wide of Howard's goal.
Jamaica again came forward in the 52nd minute, and looked dangerous when Watson gently fed the ball into space for Brown to run on to, but he was forced wide and his resulting shot didn't bother the USA goalkeeper.
Following a volley of offensive posturing, the Boyz conjured up a bit of magic in the 68th minute when Demar Phillips ventured forward to centre a ball onto the head of Mattocks, but while the effort was on target, it lacked venom and went straight to the 'keeper.
As the clocked ticked and the possibility of a Jamaican ascendancy appeared in the making, the USA turned up the heat with three substitutions and got their go-ahead goal. With the Jamaican defence unable to mop up as the ball bounced around in their goal mouth, Graham Zusi struck in the 77th minute after being set up by Alejandro Bedoya from the right side.
And before the forlorn Boyz realised what hit them, they were 2-0 down three minutes later. This time, Altidore had an easy tap-in after the ball was played across the goal by Edgar Castillo from the left.
Teams: USA — Tim Howard-1, Matt Besler-5, Brad Evans-6, DeMarcus Beasley-7 (Edgar Catillo-2 66th), Mix Diskerud-8, Aron Johannsson-9 (Sacha Kljestan-16 73rd), Landon Donovan-10 (Graham Zusi-19 46th), Alejandro Bedoya-11, Jermaine Jones-13, Jozy Altidore-17 and Geoff Cameron-20.
Subs not used: Michael Orozco-3, Brad Guzan-12, Terrence Boyd-14, Kyle Beckerman-23
Booked: Kljestan (91th)
Jamaica — Duwayne Kerr-1, Adrian Mariappa-19, Wes Morgan-7, Demar Phillips-12, Lloyd Doyley-3, Rodolph Austin-17, Je-Vaughn Watson-15 (Theo Robinson-14 73rd), Jobi McAnuff-10, Ryan Johnson-9 ( Jermaine Anderson-21 85th), Deshorn Brown-22 and Darren Mattocks-11.
Subs not used: Richard McCallum-13, Gariece McPherson-23, Marvin Elliott-4, Kemar Lawrence-20, Alvas Powell-5, Romario Campbell-6, Jermaine Johnson-8, Jermaine Taylor-16, Shaun Cummings-18, Daniel Gordon-2.
Booked: Anderson (92nd)