U.S. seals place atop World Cup qualification group with perfect home record

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

With a trip to Brazil already booked, the U.S. ensured a finish atop the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group by beating Jamaica 2-0 in Kansas City. A drab first half made it look like the team had slipped into relaxation mode since their mission was already accomplished by beating Mexico in September, but manager Jurgen Klinsmann's second-half substitutions once again had a major impact and directly influenced both goals. This might prove once and for all that he is, in fact, a wizard.

Proactive in his efforts to fix an ineffective starting XI that was missing the likes of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley due to injuries, Klinsmann showed his fearlessness in replacing unproductive star Landon Donovan with local hero Graham Zusi at halftime. He then put defender Edgar Castillo on in the 66th minute and finally added midfielder Sacha Kljestan for promising first-time starter Aron Johansson, who just couldn't quite find the net in his 72 minutes. Just five minutes after that last substitution was made, Sporting Kansas City's Zusi scored in his home stadium to put the U.S. up 1-0.

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Four minutes after that, Jozy Altidore extended his team record by scoring in his sixth consecutive start. His goal was set up by Castillo and made it 2-0, which ended up being the final score.

The U.S. won all five of their home matches in the final stage of qualification and didn't even allow a single goal. It can't get anymore perfect than that unless every goal they scored somehow cured a disease and solved world hunger all at the same time. But as wonderful as that achievement is, it won't help much in a World Cup being held in Brazil.

One match remains in the hexagonal stage and the U.S will visit Panama with the objective of proving that they can build on their excellent home form by winning consistently in hostile territory. It will also provide a chance to further prove the depth this team has, particularly in the midfield. And it will give Klinsmann a new venue to work his sorcery.

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