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USMNT Escapes Jamaica With World Cup Qualifying Draw After Late Disallowed Goal

The U.S. men's national team followed up its signature win of World Cup qualifying with a draw it's probably fortunate to have. 

Jamaica's Damion Lowe controversially had a go-ahead goal disallowed in the 84th minute, and the U.S. held on for a 1–1 draw with the Reggae Boyz Tuesday night at Independence Park in Kingston. Lowe was whistled for fouling Walker Zimmerman on a Jamaica corner kick just as he headed in what appeared to be a goal, but the hosts will feel hard-done on what didn't look like much beyond a casual play in the box.

Tim Weah opened the scoring for the U.S. in the 11th minute, and things were looking good for the visitors—that is, until West Ham's Michail Antonio turned the tide with a long-range thunderbolt to make it 1–1 11 minutes later.  

While beating Mexico and reviving the Dos a Cero storyline Friday night was riveting, the job of reaching the 2022 World Cup is not yet complete, and Tuesday night's match was the next step on that road. The match marked the beginning of the second half of Concacaf's Octagonal round, where the top three finishers automatically clinch a berth at the World Cup and fourth place goes to an intercontinental playoff for another place. The U.S. entered the night atop the table, even with Mexico on points, one clear of Canada and three ahead of Panama and will have to scoreboard watch to see where it'll end the window.

In the reverse fixture last month, the U.S. beat the Reggae Boyz 2–0 in Austin, Texas, behind Ricardo Pepi's two goals. Jamaica called on its reinforcements, though, with Premier League attacking stars Antonio and Leon Bailey available this time around to pose a different kind of challenge to the U.S. defense.

That U.S. back line was without a key member, as Miles Robinson was suspended for the match due to the two yellow cards he received vs. Mexico. Weston McKennie was also suspended due to card accumulation. Christian Pulisic, who scored the opener against Mexico, began again on the bench as he works his way back from an ankle injury, while Chris Richards and Gianluca Busio stepped in for the suspended duo in an otherwise unchanged lineup from Friday night.

After defending Jamaica possession for the bulk of the first few minutes, the U.S. was able to gain a foothold in the fourth, settling down play a bit and working out of the back. None of the same hallmarks of Friday's game, though—control, coherent pressing—were evident in the early going, though, with Jamaica doing well to disrupt the U.S. when on the ball.

The U.S. found the early breakthrough it was seeking in the 11th minute, though. Weah, who won man-of-the-match honors vs. Mexico and whose mother is from Jamaica, scored the opener, working a combination with Pepi and beating Andre Blake on a left-angled shot to make it 1-0.

It nearly became 2-0 minutes later, as Weah tracked down a ball over the top down the right and cut a cross through the box that Brenden Aaronson dummied for Pepi. The initial shot was blocked, and Aaronson's blast off the rebound was well saved by Blake.

Just as the U.S. was emphasizing its control over the match, Jamaica struck for an equalizer out of nowhere. Antonio was the difference maker, taking a ball down in the midfield, turning, beating Tyler Adams off the dribble and firing from over 30 yards to sensationally beat Zack Steffen.

Jamaica had a penalty shout go unheard in the 40th minute, when a cross appeared to graze Richards in the bicep, but the referee did not make the initial call, and with VAR not being implemented in Concacaf World Cup qualifying—an issue that would arise later and also not go in Jamaica's favor—play continued.

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The U.S. appeared to have a penalty shout of its own just before halftime after a contested aerial ball deep in the Jamaica box was put out for a corner, but no call was given, and the Americans couldn't do anything with the subsequent set piece, sending the teams to halftime level at 1-1.

Six minutes into the second half, the U.S. nearly went ahead on an effort reminiscent of Antonio's shot, as Busio got time and space to fire from long range and put his right-footed effort just over the bar.

Jamaica responded with a close call of its own. Last-ditch defending from Antonee Robinson prevented Bailey from having a chance to volley from point-blank range, but his block fell at the doorstep to Robinson's Fulham teammate, Bobby Decordova-Reid, who blasted his sitter over the U.S. goal. 

As the match passed the hour mark, U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter went to his bench for reinforcements, with Pulisic and Kellyn Acosta entering for Weah and Yunus Musah.

It was Antonio, meanwhile, creating more trouble for the U.S., with a run down the left drawing Steffen out of his goal to cut off the angle. He was able to slot the ball by the goalkeeper through the U.S. box, but no teammate was there to tap into an empty net, and the U.S. cleared the danger.

Steffen was called into action in the 74th minute as Jamaica substitute Ravel Morrison, a former Manchester United youth product, rolled a long, low shot on target that the keeper saved.

The U.S. turned to its bench for two more substitutes in the 78th minute, with Pepi and Aaronson coming off in favor of Jesús Ferreira and Paul Arriola.

The U.S. was given a let-off six minutes later. Off a Jamaica corner kick, Lowe appeared to score the go-ahead goal, but he was whistled for a foul for evidently pushing off Zimmerman, and his header was disallowed, thus securing the point for both teams.

The U.S. resumes qualifying at the end of January. First, there will be a December camp and friendly vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, for which a largely domestic-based side is expected due to it falling outside of the FIFA international calendar. The first match in the next window is Jan. 27 at home against El Salvador at a location that's to be determined. Three days later, the U.S. will play at Canada before returning home for a Feb. 2 match vs. Honduras.

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