WASHINGTON (AFP) –
Jamaica surprised the United States 2-1 to seize the Group A lead as Mexico moved closer to the final round of 2014 World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) region.
Goals from Rodolph Austin and Luton Shelton overcame Clint Dempsey’s first-minute strike for the Americans as Jamaica posted their first victory over the US in 19 matches.
Dempsey’s goal — 36 seconds into the match — was the fastest for the United States in World Cup qualifying, confounding predictions that he would show some rust in his first competitive match since June.
But with Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley absent through injury, the United States couldn’t hold their lead as free kicks from Austin and Shelton gave Jamaica the victory.
In the 22nd, Austin fired a low shot through the US wall and past US goalkeeper Tim Howard.
It was Shelton’s turn in the 62nd minute and Jamaica, who came into the match level with the United States atop Group A, now lead with seven points.
The United States have four, as do Guatemala after their 3-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda.
After Peter Byers put Antigua and Barbuda up 1-0 in the 38th minute, Carlos Ruiz scored twice — in the 58th and 79th — to put Guatemala ahead with Dwight Pezzarossi adding one more for the hosts in the waning seconds.
The top two teams from each of the three groups advance to the final round of regional qualifying next year, and the United States will be aiming to get back on track when they host Jamaica on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
Mexico, meanwhile, remained perfect with their third win in three matches of the semi-final round — a 2-0 triumph at Costa Rica.
Carlos Salcido in the 43rd minute and Jesus Zavala in the 52nd — both goals from Andres Guardado corner kicks — left Mexico needing just one more win to advance.
They’ll try to do it when they host Costa Rica on Tuesday.
Costa Rica held on to second place in the group with four points as El Salvador and Guyana played out a 2-2 draw in San Salvador.
Canada seized the lead in Group C with a 1-0 victory over Panama in Toronto, courtesy of a goal by Dwayne De Rosario in the 77th minute.
Canada lead the group with seven points, one clear of Panama. Honduras claimed a much-needed win in convincing style at Havana, beating Cuba 3-0.
All three Honduran goals came from Major League Soccer players. New England’s Jerry Bengtson opened the scoring in the 31st minute. Victor Bernardez added a second goal when he converted a free kick in the 63rd and Marvin Chavez — Bernardez’s team-mate at San Jose — completed the scoring in injury time.
Despite the absence of suspended midfielder Roger Espinoza, Honduras looked much the stronger side as they took their points total to four. Cuba meanwhile, are on the brink of elimination as they look toward a re-match at Honduras on Tuesday.
In other matches on Tuesday Antigua and Barbuda host Guatemala, Guyana host El Salvador and Panama host Canada.