Tottenham striker Clint Dempsey scored two goals to lead the US over visiting Guatemala 3-1 on Tuesday and into next year’s North American final round of 2014 World Cup qualifying.
English Premier League striker Dempsey broke a 1-1 deadlock with a goal in the 18th minute and added another in the 36th for the US, while Jamaica beat Antigua and Barbuda 4-1 to advance at the expense of Guatemala.
“Credit my teammates. They were putting good balls in. I was lucky enough to get them to go in,” Dempsey said. “A little pressure on us, but it’s behind us now. We want to go to the World Cup. This is the first step to getting there.”
Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico rounded out next year’s six-team World Cup final round qualifying lineup from the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
Honduras routed visiting Canada 8-1 to advance, while Panama moved through with a 1-1 draw against winless Cuba and Costa Rica blanked winless Guyana 7-0 to advance on the concluding night of the 12-nation penultimate qualifying round.
Three CONCACAF teams will advance to the 2014 global soccer showdown in Brazil, with Dempsey saying the US squad needs to improve away from home to avoid pushing qualifying fights to the final match.
“We haven’t been able to get too many wins away from home,” Dempsey said. “If we start getting wins away from home and keep our results at home, I think we’ll be all right.”
Carlos Ruiz gave Guatemala the lead with a goal in the fifth minute to put a scare into the US at Kansas City. US captain Carlos Bocanegra answered in the 10th minute to equalize, setting the stage for Dempsey’s double strike.
In Kingston, Jamaica’s “Reggae Boyz” advanced thanks to goals by Dane Richards in the 78th and 88th minutes. Jamaica and Guatemala each finished 3-2 with one drawn in Group A, but Jamaica moved on due to superior goal difference.
Needing a victory to have any chance to advance, Jamaica took command quickly on goals by Demar Phillips in the 16th minute and Nyron Nosworthy, a Watford defender, in the 17th.
Quinton Griffith pulled one back for visiting Antigua and Barbuda in the 61st minute, putting Jamaica’s World Cup dream at risk before Richards saved the day.
In Honduras, Jerry Bengtson scored a hat trick while Carlos Costly and Mario Martinez each added two goals for the hosts in a Group C romp that doomed Canada’s dreams of reaching Brazil.
Bengtson scored in the seventh and 16th minutes, Costly followed in the 28th minute and Martinez struck in the 32nd. Canada’s David Edgar netted an own goal in the 48th minute and Martinez tallied once again in the 62nd minute.
Iain Hume answered for Canada in the 76th minute, but Bengtson completed his hat trick in the 82nd minute and Costly finished off the scoring in the 85th.
In Havana, the already-eliminated Cubans netted their only goal in six qualifying matches when Alberto Gomez scored in the 38th minute.
Nelson Barahona equalized for Panama in the 77th to earn a draw. Honduras and Panama were both 3-1 with two drawn for 11 points, but Honduras took the group crown on goal difference and Canada missed out on 10 points.
Costa Rica needed a home victory over winless Guyana to ensure advancement and the Ticos struck quickly, Randall Brenes finding the net in the ninth minute and Cristian Gamboa adding another Costa Rican goal in the 13th minute.