Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good Night for Sporting KC Internationals

It turned out to be a huge night for Sporting KC's international players as all 3 got huge results to help them in their own qualifying efforts. 

First, Graham Zusi got his first start in a competitive game for the US national team as they faced a virtual must win at home against Jamaica.  After the loss in Jamaica and Guatemala beating Antigua earlier tonight, the US faced the prospect of falling out of a spot in the Hex with only 2 games left.  Zusi though took full advantage of his starting opportunity having a fantastic game and earning himself high praise around the US Soccer community.  In the 6th minute Zusi cut outside around the corner of the box and fired a shot on goal that hit the cross bar.  Zusi had two other opportunities in the first half, the first after a blocked shot by Fabian Johnson that Zusi got to on the back post by Dwayne Miller got his foot to the shot knocking it away.  Also off a corner that was headed back to him by Carlos Bocanegra, Zusi hit the volley just over the bar.  Even without the efforts, Zusi had a great game, combining extremely well with Steve Cherundolo, the two caused Jamaica a number of problems down the USA's right side the entire game. 

It took until the second half for the US to find the winner and it came off a fantastic free kick from former Wizard, Herculez Gomez.  Miller in the Jamaican net should have done better, but you can't take away from the strike from Gomez.  The US now have 2 games left to clinch advancement to the Hex and would certainly appear to be in the driver's seat.

In other World Cup qualifying action, Roger Espinoza and Honduras took on Cuba in San Pedro Sula in Honduras.  Honduras got their qualification hopes back on track with a 1-0 win and moved into second in the group ahead of Canada on goal difference.  Espinoza set up the goal by Jerry Bengtson after some great work on the end line before sending a looping ball to the back post where Bengston headed the ball into the empty net.  The goal was all Honduras needed.  Honduras finish qualifying in Panama on the 12th before finishing qualifying at home vs Canada which could be the game that decides which of those two teams advances to the Hex next year.

The final Sporting international playing tonight was Peterson Joseph who finished their first qualification phase for the Caribbean Championships and Gold Cup qualification.  The Haitians topped Puerto Rico 2-1 to finish atop Group 1.  With the win, Haiti move into Group 6, which will be hosted October 18th through the 25th in Grenada.  Haiti and Grenada will be joined by the winner of Group 2 and the second place team from either group 4 or 5.

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