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Antigua and Barbuda vs. USA, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Eddie Johnson rescues USMNT

Jozy who? Alan Gordon set up Eddie Johnson for the United States' winner in Antigua.

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USA squeaks out fortunate win against Benna Boys

Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon were the unlikely heroes on Friday night, as the United States rescued a win from a terrible performance against Antigua and Barbuda.


USA tied 1-1 with A&B at halftime

It's been a rough half for the United States, who will expect much more from themselves in the second 45 against Antigua and Barbuda. They've had all of the ball, but only have one goal to show for their possession, and they managed to concede thanks to some awful defending.

The 1-1 halftime score is not what Jürgen Klinsmann (or anyone, for that matter) expected from the USMNT, who have been far from their best. Eddie Johnson scored the U.S. goal in the 20th minute, nodding in a Graham Zusi cross following a corner kick, but his inclusion and use has been a bit baffling. He's spent the first half as a wide player, and certainly doesn't look comfortable.

Klinsmann's back line hasn't looked comfortable either, and some terrible play from the entire back line allowed A&B to create their goal. Geoff Cameron was absolutely skinned by Peter Byers on the right flank, and the Benna Boys' midfielder squared for Dexter Blackstock. The Nottingham Forest man caught the rest of the U.S. defense napping and finished from close range to level the match after 25 minutes.

What Klinsmann does about his team's current position is anyone's guess, but some sort of halftime changes will be expected.


Benna Boys shock US to equalize 1-1

Once the United States got their opening goal against Antigua and Barbuda things were supposed to get easy. The Benna Boys would have to open up some and the Americans would make them pay en route to a blowout win. Well, that may have been the thinking, but that isn't the case in practice because Antigua and Barbuda have scored to level this match 1-1 in the 26th minute.

The United States defended horribly as Peter Byers ran down the right. Nobody stopped him, alternating between slipping and flailing around aimlessly as Byers got to the endline before crossing. That cross found Dexter Blackstock, who got away from his mark far too easily and had a simple finish from close range to get the Benna Boys later.

At some point soon, the U.S. is going to have to wonder what is going on. This does not look good and at least early on, the match is not going according to the script.


Eddie Johnson puts Yanks up 1-0

The United States hasn't looked very good in the early going, but this was never going to be a pretty match. The field is bumpy and wet. It is also narrow and Antigua and Barbuda want nothing more than to defend. Pretty was never in the card, but winning was and Eddie Johnson put them on the way to that with an opening goal.

Johnson, who was called in for his aerial presence, made Jurgen Klinsmann look brilliant by connecting with a good, powerful header to find the net. The cross came after a corner kick was cleared, but not far so the U.S. put the ever-dangerous second ball in. It found Johnson and the Americans had the lead.

Now that they are in front, Antigua and Barbuda will have to come out of their shell some, but they will still keep number behind the ball. That means more ugly play, but that is just fine for the U.S. now.


USA vs. Antigua and Barbuda lineups

The United States enters tonight's World Cup qualifier against Antigua and Barbuda in a three-way tie with Jamaica and Guatemala atop Group A with two matches left to play. That is hardly the position they wanted to be in considering that only two teams advance to the final round of qualifying, but that is where they stand.

Luckily for them, they get to play the Benna Boys, who should not give the Americans any trouble. Four years ago Antigua and Barbuda went out in the second round of qualifying to Cuba 8-3 on aggregate and while they have done well to keep matches close, they have just one point. That should ease any concerns the U.S. has about their injuries, which frankly, isn't so bad.

Jurgen Klinsmann has opted to put Carlos Bocanegra at left back in the absence of any healthy, true left backs. He has plenty of experience there, though, so it shouldn't matter. The surprise of the team might be Jermaine Jones missing, but he is a yellow card away from suspension and battling injury. Eddie Johnson gets the start and will likely just be circling the box waiting for a cross.

The team is being described as a 4-4-2, but that is unlikely. Odds are that Michael Bradley and Danny Williams sit a bit deeper and that the four in front of them have free reign to do as they please. Considering that the U.S. will be on the ball and in the attacking half all match, that is perfectly fine.

United States: Howard; Bocanegra, Cameron, Goodson, Cherundolo; Bradley, Williams; Johnson, Dempsey, Zusi; Gomez.


Formation, team selection irrelevant for US

Jürgen Klinsmann has made changes to his team for every World Cup qualifier, and Friday's match won't be any different. However, these changes do not mean this team lacks continuity or cohesion.


US announces roster for WC qualifiers

Jurgen Klismann made a few surprise picks in his latest roster selection, ending a long absence for Eddie Johnson and leaving Jozy Altidore and Terrence Boyd home.

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