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El Paso, TX — Holding the top spot in the Hexagonal entering the final two matches of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, the U.S. Men's National Team can take one step closer to winning the group when it hosts Jamaica on Oct. 11 in Kansas City, Kan. Kickoff at sold-out Sporting Park is set for 5:30 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas and ESPN Deportes Radio. Four days later, the U.S. closes out the final round when it faces Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez (9:30 p.m. ET, beIN SPORT). Fans can follow both matches live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.
Already with a banner year that includes records for consecutive victories (12) and overall wins (14), the U.S. Men's National Team can add another feather to its cap by finishing the Hexagonal with a perfect record at home. Through four games, the USA is 4-0-0 with six goals scored and zero surrendered.
The U.S. sits in first place in the group with 16 points, one ahead of Costa Rica. With the 2-0 victory against Mexico on Sept. 10 in Columbus, the USA secured its seventh-consecutive trip to the World Cup. While in last place in the group on four points, Jamaica is still capable of snatching the fourth spot that would earn a place in the Intercontinental Playoff against New Zealand for a place in Brazil.
With only five international fixture dates between now and the start of World Cup training camp next May, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is using these games as the start of preparation for Brazil. Competition for spots on the 23-man roster remains fierce, and good performances in qualifiers can translate into future opportunities for the players here in Kansas City.
TOP NINE NOTES
• This is the second World Cup Qualifier in this cycle hosted by Sporting Park. In the last game of the semifinal round, the U.S. collected a 3-1 win against Guatemala on Oct. 16, 2012. A goal by Carlos Bocanegra and two from Clint Dempsey secured the USA's passage to the Hexagonal.
• Landon Donovan has eight goals and eight assists in 2013, leading all U.S. scorers. He captured the Golden Ball as the MVP in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and also earned a share of the Golden Boot as top scorer in the tournament.
• Donovan is the USA's all-time leader in World Cup Qualifying appearances (39), and currently sits on 24 points (8 goals, 8 assists) in 2013, which surpassed the single-year point record of 22 he set in 2007 (9 goals, 4 assists).
• Jozy Altidore has seven goals this year, including three in World Cup Qualifiers. He set a team record by scoring in five-consecutive games, and with his three-goal performance against Bosnia he became the third player to score two hat tricks for the U.S. National Team, joining Donovan and Peter Millar.
• Tim Howard, who will serve as captain against Jamaica, continues to move up the goalkeeping record books. He is currently tied for second with Tony Meola in career shutouts (32), and with 51 victories Howard is just two wins behind Kasey Keller's record of 53.
• A total of 11 players were part of the Gold Cup-winning squad: DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, Edgar Castillo, Mix Diskerud, Brad Davis, Donovan, Clarence Goodson, Michael Orozco and Nick Rimando.
• Beasley, who captained the team in the Gold Cup, has started the most games (13) this year.
• Brad Evans scored the game-winning goal in the 2-1 win in Jamaica on June 7 in Kingston. Recording his first goal for the MNT, his strike in the second-minute of second half stoppage time handed the U.S. a huge three points. He has started at right back for the last five games in which he was available, including three World Cup Qualifiers.
• AZ Alkmaar striker Aron Johannsson has posted 10 goals in all competitions this season, including five in league play Born in Mobile, Ala., he completed his change of association from Iceland in time to enter as a substitute in the 63rd minute of the USA's 4-3 win against Bosnia.
U.S. MNT MAKES SEVERAL ROSTER CHANGES: U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought in several players following the team's original 20-player announcement on Oct. 6. On Tuesday, Puebla defender Michael Orozco replaced an injured Omar Gonzalez to the roster. Gonzalez was diagnosed with a left hip strain from the LA Galaxy's 5-0 win against Chivas USA. Then on Thursday, Klinsmann brought in Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis and San Jose Earthquakes teammates Clarence Goodson and Chris Windowloski. Goodson appeared during the USA's 2-0 victory against Mexico on Sept. 10 in Columbus, Ohio, as the team secured a spot in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Wondolowski scored five goals during the USA's run to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup crown earlier this year.
HEXAGONAL PICTURE: With only two games remaining in the Hexagonal - the fourth round of qualifying for the CONCACAF region - the base of 2014 FIFA World Cup-bound teams is becoming more defined. The U.S. MNT secured its spot to Brazil with a 2-0 victory against Mexico on Sept. 10 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio. Landon Donovan scored a goal and assisted Eddie Johnson's tally, which proved to be the game-winner. The U.S. is atop the Hexagonal with a 5-2-1 record and 16 points.
Costa Rica is second (4-1-3, 15 points) and has also qualified for next year's World Cup. Costa Rica went on the road to draw 1-1 against Jamaica on Sept. 10. Honduras currently holds the third qualifying spot with a 1-2-5 record and eight points. Mexico is fourth with an identical record as Honduras, but Honduras holds the tiebreaker advantage in goals scored. The team that finishes fourth in the Hexagonal does not earn automatic qualification to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, needing to face New Zealand out of the Oceania region in a playoff. Jamaica (0-4-4, 4 points) has not been mathematically eliminated from a playoff spot, but The Reggae Boyz are out of the running for the top three spots in the Hexagonal.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3):Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
HEADING TO THE HALL: Before Friday's game, former U.S. MNT forwards Joe-Max Moore and Peter Vermes will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in a ceremony taking place at 2 p.m. CT on the West Plaza of Sporting Park. The National Soccer Hall of Fame and U.S. Soccer will hold Induction 2013, presented by Eurosport, ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica, and it will be free and open to the public. Additionally, New York Times columnist George Vecsey will be recognized as the recipient of the 2013 Colin Jose Media Award.
USA vs. JAMAICA
• Overall, the USA is 12-1-8 all-time in international competition against Jamaica and 4-1-6 in World Cup Qualifying.
• The U.S. won its last contest against Jamaica on June 7 in dramatic fashion after conceding the equalizer in the 89th minute. Brad Evans, making just his third start at right back for the USA, scored his first National Team goal in extra time to hand the U.S. a 2-1 victory and its first World Cup Qualifying win on Jamaican soil.
• The U.S. lineup that day: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Brad Evans, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 13-Jermaine Jones (20-Geoff Cameron, 59), 4-Michael Bradley; 19-Graham Zusi, 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson (2-Edgar Castillo, 76); 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Eddie Johnson, 83)
• In that game, Jozy Altidore gave the U.S. a 30th-minute lead with his first in World Cup Qualifying since Sept. 5, 2009, when he scored against El Salvador at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
• Also in that match, Jones sustained a knock to the head in a collision with Jamaica's Daniel Gordon as both battled for a cross. Jones left the game and was replaced by Geoff Cameron, who helped the USA battle out the final 30-plus minutes.
• On Jamaican soil, the United States is 3-1-5 overall and 1-1-4 in World Cup qualifying.
• Tim Howard started in the USA's 2-1 win on Feb. 12, 2003, in Jamaica.
• The United States and Jamaica squared off in the final round of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup on Oct. 7, 2001, in Foxborough, Mass. Meeting on the second to last fixture date of the round, the U.S. needed a victory and an improbable series of results to qualify for Korea/Japan. Becoming the first U.S. team to compete in international competition since 9/11, and playing on the day that hostilities began in Afghanistan, the U.S. collected a 2-1 victory and secured a place in the World Cup.
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