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AP Sports Writer
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Damion Lowe leapt above Walker Zimmerman at the top of the 6-yard box in the 84th minute and headed Leon Bailey’s corner kick to the left of U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Back at The Office for the first time in 25 months, yellow-clad Reggae Boyz fans erupted at the apparent go-ahead goal.
Costa Rican referee Juan Gabriel Calderón whistled Lowe for a relatively 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,” U.S. 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 an angled 6-yard shot off his weaker left foot was offset by Michail Antonio’s spectacular 34-yard strike in the 22nd.
“We’re still in a good position,” U.S. 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 U.S. dropped into second place with 15 points going into its final six qualifiers — three home games plus road matches at Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Canada moved into first with 16 points thanks to a 2-1 win over Mexico in Edmonton, Alberta, where the temperature at kickoff was 16 degrees. Mexico and Panama have 14 points each, followed by Costa Rica (nine), Jamaica (seven), El Salvador (six) and Honduras (three). The top three nations qualify from North and Central America and the Caribbean, and the fourth goes to a playoff.
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.”
Loud reggae played on speakers during warmups before a crowd of about 1,000 at 35,000-seat Independence Park, where a statue of Bob Marley sits outside. The scoreboard was off, and there was no visible game clock. The temperature was a comfortable 83 degrees for the 5 p.m. start.
U.S. passing was not as crisp on the rough field. 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 Friday’s 2-0 win over Mexico at the sparkling new stadium in Cincinnati, according to STATS Perform.
“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 and in.
“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.”
Before the game, the public address announcer introduced the 21-year-old Weah as a son of former FIFA Player of the Year George Weah — the current president of Liberia — and a mother of Jamaican descent.
With Jamaica playing on the 24th anniversary of clinching its only World Cup appearance, Antonio scored the longest-distance goal in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.