With the win, the U.S. moved into sole possession of first place in Group A with 10 points and controls their own destiny heading into their final match in the Semifinal Round against Guatemala at 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at sold-out LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. The USA is guaranteed to advance through the round with a win or a draw against Guatemala, and could potentially advance with a loss.
Johnson, who had not played for the U.S. MNT since 2010, is now tied with Brian McBride for second place all-time in World Cup Qualifying goals in U.S. history with 10 in his career.
Guatemala and Jamaica, both 2-1-1 with seven points, face each other late Friday night. The top two teams of the group advance through the Semifinal Round.
Coverage of Tuesday’s U.S. match against Guatemala on ESPN2 begins at 5:30 p.m. CT, and the match will also be shown live on WatchESPN and Telefutura. Fans can follow the game on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and via Twitter @ussoccer.
Johnson gave the USA a 1-0 lead with a 20th-minute header off of Graham Zusi’s left-footed cross from the right side. Right at the edge of the six-yard box, Johnson elevated above his defender and headed the ball past goalkeeper Molvin James. It was Johnson’s first goal since scoring on June 15, 2008, during an 8-0 qualifying win against Barbados.
Antigua responded quickly as Dexter Blackstock equalized in the 25th minute off of a Peter Byers cross from the right. Byers got past U.S. defender Geoff Cameron near the endline and slipped a pass in front of the goal for Blackstock who hit a low shot past USA goalkeeper Tim Howard.
In the closing minute of regulation, the U.S. got the vital goal and three points shortly after a throw-in from the right side by Steve Cherundolo. Sacha Kljestan found Alan Gordon inside the penalty area and the forward deftly hit a one-timed cross to the left post to a darting Johnson who headed it back across the goal frame and into the right side past James.
• Eddie Johnson’s multi-goal performance was his first since he notched a hat trick on Oct. 13, 2004, against Panama in World Cup Qualifying in Washington, D.C.
• U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones, who entered the match for Danny Williams in the second half, received his second yellow card in the tournament and will be suspended for Tuesday’s match against Guatemala. Jones was booked for a hand ball when he tried to challenge Dexter Blackstock for possession in the 62nd minute.
• Tim Howard moved into a tie for third place all-time in U.S. MNT goalkeeper caps with his 82nd appearance, matching Brad Friedel’s career total from 1992-2004. Howard made his 10th start of the year to tie for the team lead with Jermaine Jones.
• U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra earned his 108th cap, which moves him to within two of sixth-place Paul Caligiuri (110) on the USA’s all-time list. Clint Dempsey made his 90th career appearance, tying him for 16th all-time with John Harkes.
• Bocanegra started at left back, where he played the final 30 minutes during the USA’s 3-1 win against Antigua & Barbuda on June 8. Bocanegra’s move to left back was to make room for center back Clarence Goodson, who returned to the team after serving a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.
• Bocanegra, Howard and Gomez have started in all five World Cup qualifiers in the Semifinal Round.
• Midfielder Michael Bradley returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous two qualifiers because of a muscle injury.
• U.S. forward Alan Gordon earned his first cap with the national team when he replaced Herculez Gomez in the 73rd minute.
• Sacha Kljestan made his second appearance of the year when he was brought in for Graham Zusi in the 78th minute.
• The USA improved to 8-2-2 this year and currently holds the best winning percentage (0.75) since its 13-3-4 (0.75) performance in 2005.
• The U.S. MNT moved to 19-11-11 all-time on the road against CONCACAF island nations. Friday’s match was the USA’s first on the road against Antigua & Barbuda.