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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 19, 2004

Ching's goal helps U.S. tie Jamaica, 1-1

By Barry Wilner
Associated Press

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A veteran, a star and a newcomer saved the United States against Jamaica last night.

Brian Ching, left, gets a hug from teammate Landon Donovan after scoring the tying goal.

Associated Press

With the entire island nation ready to celebrate the Reggae Boyz's first win over the Americans, Cobi Jones, in his 161st national team appearance, crossed into the penalty box in the 89th minute. Landon Donovan, America's premier player, settled the ball and substitute Brian Ching sent a right-footed dagger into the Jamaicans for a 1-1 tie.

Ching, a Kamehameha Schools graduate, was playing in his third game for the U.S. team and first in World Cup qualifying action.

"I was chomping at the bit to get in," said Ching, who scored his first national team goal. "We battled hard and it was a fair result. It starts us off on the right foot."

Until then in the World Cup regional semifinal qualifying game, Jamaica was delivering an emphatic message: Stay out of our office.

But the Americans have never lost to the Jamaicans, and at Kingston's National Stadium, known as "The Office," they have produced four ties in qualifiers.

The United States, which was sloppy early, came alive after falling behind on Ian Goodison's second-half goal.

Still, the Americans couldn't find the tying score until the dying moments, when substitutes Jones and Ching came through.

"I missed one earlier," Ching said of a header from 6 yards that went wide. "Thankfully, I got another chance after that. I tried to get a little too much on the header than I needed. I should've buried it."

Much later, he did.

Jamaica's Fabian Davis, right, was tackled by DaMarcus Beasley of the United States during yesterday's World Cup qualifying match.

Associated Press

"We played a good game and we deserved a point," captain Claudio Reyna said. "We kept believing until the end, we played well defensively on the road against a difficult and good team and we got a point."

In three previous qualifiers at National Stadium, all played in the midday heat, the teams played 0-0 ties. This time, before their spirited fans, many of whom began gathering outside the sports complex at noon for a 6 p.m. kickoff, the Jamaicans got off to a strong start with several dangerous penetrations.

But they couldn't connect in the first half, mainly because of sloppy passing or the outstanding work of Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Pope and Carlos Bocanegra on the U.S. backline.

The Americans weren't any more precise.

A defensive giveaway led to the Jamaican goal in the 49th minute — and an explosion of sound by the yellow-and-green clad fans who've waited so long for their heroes to do something positive against the United States.

Ching, one of the last additions to the team, went wide on that header with an open net in the 63rd, and Jones missed wide seven minutes later. Reyna headed over the goal in the 77th.

In the final moments, Eddie Lewis collided with Jamaica goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and both fell hard. Lewis got up immediately, but Ricketts stayed down for two minutes before resuming play.

Then the Americans tied it.

"This was a real test of our team," coach Bruce Arena said. "We showed a lot of character and spirit and never put our heads down."