Player grades: U.S. vs. Jamaica

Posted by Jeff Carlisle

The U.S. men's national team delivered the kind of performance a World Cup qualifier demands, securing a priceless 1-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday.

The Americans dominated much of the match but struggled to break down a resolute Jamaica defense. However, the U.S. finally got the goal it deserved thanks to Herculez Gomez's free kick in the 55th minute. Thereafter, the Americans made hard work of the match as Jamaica came out of its shell. But despite some nervy moments, the U.S. defense held firm to record the victory.

BENNETT: FOUR FACTORS TO VICTORY

There is now a logjam atop Group A, with the U.S., Guatemala and Jamaica all on seven points, although the Reggae Boyz trail the two other teams on goal difference. But the Americans now control their destiny again, and will face Antigua and Barbuda on Oct. 12 followed by a home match against Guatemala four days later.

The U.S. dominated the first half Tuesday only to be denied by some stellar goalkeeping by Dwayne Miller as well as the woodwork. It was ironic that Gomez scored on a free kick Miller should have saved, as he managed to get two hands on the shot but succeeded only in deflecting the ball into his own net. However, the Americans will take it, and while the manner of the last 30 minutes will be cause for concern, the U.S. can at least breathe easy again knowing that its World Cup qualifying campaign is back on track.

Player ratings: (0-10; 10=best)

G Tim Howard, 7 -- Hardly touched the ball, although he had to be sharp to touch a searing drive from Rodolph Austin late on.

D Fabian Johnson, 6.5 -- An absolute terror going forward, and nearly put the U.S. ahead only to see his shot blocked. The only complaint was his distribution in his own half, but his defending was solid.

D Carlos Bocanegra, 8 -- Was completely unbothered in the back, providing steady leadership and passing. His timing on his tackles was impeccable as well.

D Geoff Cameron, 7.5 -- On a night when he had little to do, Cameron was commanding in the air and was composed in his distribution for the most part, although he settled for the long ball a tad too easily toward the end. Still, an impressive performance.

D Steve Cherundolo, 7 -- Was as devastating in attack as Johnson was on the other wing. Could have been a bit more accurate with his crosses, but overall was very effective on the right flank. Unlucky to hit the post thanks to a superb save by Miller.

M Graham Zusi, 7 -- Didn't look out of place at all, despite his relative inexperience. Cracked a shot off the bar in the 6th minute and just missed the target on another in the 23rd. He definitely proved himself with this performance.

M Danny Williams, 8 -- Looked completely at home operating in the middle and plugged the gaps effectively. Even found time to get forward and hit a shot off the post in the first half. Was moved to the right flank toward the end, but still performed well.

M Jermaine Jones, 5.5 -- A much better performance in all phases, but at times reverted to foul-machine mode. Was at his best when he stayed patient. When he doesn't, his passes fail to find the mark.

M Jose Torres, 7.5 -- His best performance in a U.S. shirt. Not only was he clean with his passing, but he got in his share of tackles as well. Went off the boil a bit in the second half, but the U.S. missed him when he was subbed off.

F Herculez Gomez, 6.5 -- Battled up top but found the going tough, especially when Clint Dempsey dropped far into midfield. But credit him for getting the all-important goal.

F Clint Dempsey, 4 -- Tended to go for the most complicated option and didn't look sharp with his touches. Keeping things simple would have served Dempsey and the team better.

Subs:
M Brek Shea, 4 -- Looked very timid, and while he did well to win a corner kick late, he offered little overall.

M Maurice Edu, 5.5 -- Did well to provide some fresh legs when the U.S. started to tire.

F Jozy Altidore, 4 -- Offered little in a sub's role, be it with his link play or holding the ball up. Saving grace was a throw-in he won late in the match.

ESPN Conversations