COLUMBUS, Ohio – The veteran defender and the young midfielder set the tone that led the US national team to a 1-0 victory over Jamaica in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier.
Neither Steve Cherundolo (85 caps) nor Graham Zusi (four) played in the 2-1 loss to the Jamaicans in Kingston last Friday, but their impact was immediately felt before a roaring sellout crowd of 23,881 in Crew Stadium.
Cherundolo, from his right back spot, found Zusi on the flank several times, including a ball that Zusi fired off the crossbar in the sixth minute.
“I tucked in and let him do his thing,” Zusi said of Cherundolo (above, left). “We combined nicely a few times and we were able to get behind their back line.”
The Sporting Kansas City player, second in MLS with 12 assists, also had an open look that he sailed over the goal and Cherundolo had a shot deflect off a defender then the post in the 20th minute of what turned out to be a frustrating scoreless first half for the Yanks.
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The US finally broke the stalemate on a Herculez Gomez free kick on the 55th minute and preserved the win from there.
As usually is the case, Cherundolo wanted to talk about the team’s performance and not his return after missing last week's match with a calf injury.
“The names on the jerseys, names on the score sheet were irrelevant tonight,” Cherundolo said. “We got three points. That was our job. We did that.”
Goalkeeper Tim Howard said the team was buoyed by Cherundolo’s play.
“Stevie likes to play up and down,” he said. “He got in a couple of really good crosses, got ourselves in some dangerous positions, but also a lot of credit has to go to Graham Zusi as well to get on the ball, turn and make a play.”