Damion Lowe leapt above Walker Zimmerman in the 84th minute and headed Leon Bailey’s corner past goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Jamaica fans erupted at the apparent go-ahead goal. But Costa Rican referee Juan Gabriel Calderon whistled Lowe for a slight push into Zimmerman’s shoulder, a call frequently not made against a Concacaf home team.
“He blew the whistle early, and that was a relief,” US coach Gregg Berhalter said.
The Americans started the second half of World Cup qualifying with a bumpy 1-1 draw against Jamaica on Tuesday night. Tim Weah’s 11th-minute goal on a shot off his weaker left foot was offset by Michail Antonio’s spectacular 35-yard strike in the 22nd.
“We’re still in a good position,” US captain Tyler Adams said. “It’s going to be super-important we continue to win our home games, get points on the road when we can.”
The US have 15 points going into their final six qualifiers. However, Mexico (14 points), Canada (13) and Panama (11) were all due to play later. Jamaica have seven points in fifth place. The top three nations qualify automatically for Qatar 2022.
“Any time you can get a point away from home is a good thing in Concacaf qualifying,” Berhalter said. “For the guys to have their heads down because we wanted more is completely natural.”
On the disallowed goal, Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore didn’t have a good view from the sideline. “I wouldn’t complain about the officiating,” he said.
Concacaf does not use video review in World Cup qualifiers.
“Sometimes you don’t get that call,” Zimmerman said. “But I do think it was a foul. I think he hit me before hitting the ball.”
US passing was not as crisp on the rough field as it had been during the team’s 2-0 victory over Mexico last week. The central midfield of Adams, Yunus Musah and Gianluca Busio subbing for suspended Weston McKennie had 164 touches, down from 224 for the midfield trio in their victory over Mexico.
“It wasn’t really much of a soccer match,” Steffen said. “It was more just physicality and who could run longer and just continue to fight.”
Weah scored his second international goal after exchanging passes with Ricardo Pepi. Weah continued his run, muscled past Bobby Decordova-Reid and from an extremely tight angle slotted past goalkeeper Andre Blake, off the far post.
“My natural instinct is to cut in and shoot and hit it with my right foot,” Weah said. “I got the ball on my left foot and I just knew I had to take my opportunity.”
With Jamaica playing on the 24th anniversary of clinching their only World Cup appearance, Antonio scored a stunner. He won the ball in midfield, took several touches and cut inside of Adams, then curled the ball past the outstretched left arm of Steffen and just under the crossbar for his second international goal. Of Antonio’s 54 goals for club and country, this was the first from outside the penalty area.
“Without hesitating, he just ripped one,” Adams said. “That was one of the top ones, for sure.” Steffen said it “was like a Jabulani ball,” criticized by goalkeepers for rocketing during the 2010 World Cup.
“I don’t think I had really had much of a chance,” Steffen said.
Chris Richards and Zimmerman started in central defense together for the first time. A cross ricocheted off Antonee Robinson’s right shoulder in 38th but the arm was tucked in and there was no call.
Busio had the best US chance of the second half, putting a long-range shot over the bar in the 52nd, and Decordova-Reid skied one from close range a minute later. Christian Pulisic, still getting fit followed a sprained left ankle, entered in the 66th for a tiring Weah.
“We just have to stay positive, keep a positive energy in the group and just continue on back,” Weah said. “We got a point out of it. We just need to bounce back next game.”