Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson, getting his first action with the United States Men's National Team since 2010, was the hero Friday against Antigua and Barbuda, as the Americans got a 2-1 victory on the road. Johnson scored both of the United States' goals, the first coming in the 20th minute to open the scoring, and the second in the 90th minute, when it looked like the U.S. was about to settle for a draw. Dexter Blackstock evened the score for the Benna Boys in the 25th minute when an A&B counterattack caught the American defense flatfooted.
Johnson's goals were his first for the national team since 2008, and it averted a crisis for the Americans, who would have likely had to win next week's match against Guatemala and hoped for some favorable results to advance to the hexagonal round. They still might have been able to advance even with a draw, but it would have become very tight. As it stands, the Americans should play for a win to ensure they'll move on, but a draw should suffice.
A couple of former Chivas USA players were involved in the game. Sacha Kljestan came on in the second half for Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi, and helped grease the gears in the American attack with his corner kick service late. And San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon, who has a fair number of critics in Southern California, and whose inclusion in the roster was considered controversial, also entered the game as a second half sub, replacing Herculez Gomez. Gordon was the player who supplied Johnson with the diagonal cross on the game winner, so it appears USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann made the right choice in selecting Gordon.
The U.S. plays Guatemala Tuesday in Kansas City, and it will be the deciding match for advancement. Will the Americans prevail? We'll have to wait until Tuesday to find out, but they remain on track after a shaky yet successful performance.
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