PST USMNT Man of the Match: Herculez Gomez
There’s more to come on tonight’s big 1-0 win for the U.S. in Columbus, but first, let’s hand out our award.
For the second match in a row, Herculez Gomez wins PST’s Man of the Match award, though like Friday, the honor could have gone to a number of guys. Both Steve Cherundolo and Graham Zusi impressed on the right after not playing in Kingston. Danny Williams made his case for being first choice in defensive midfield, while it’s now hard to imagine a starting XI that doesn’t include Geoff Cameron, regardless of who’s starting next to him. Unlike Friday, when the U.S.'s Man of the Match candidates reflected a series of average performances, Tuesday’s offerings were plus-contributions in a must-win match.
But like Friday, Gomez’s main contribution had the virtue of coming on the U.S.'s only goal. In the 55th minute, Gomez put a free kick from 25 yards out around Jamaica’s wall, placing his shot two feet inside Dwayne Miller’s left post. The Jamaican goalkeeper’s loose hands played a key part in the goal, but how many times do you see a free kick from that range fail to get on frame? Gomez deserves credit for not only testing Miller but doing so with power to get the U.S. a much-needed goal.
And as on Friday, Gomez offered something beyond his contributions on the goal. Again, Gomez’s service was strong, particularly on set pieces. The best example came in the 15th minute from free kick just outside the penalty area to the left of goal. Gomez’s restart was curled perfectly in line with the far post, dropping just inside the six-yard box. Strong Jamaican defending kept anything from coming of the ball, but with normal set piece taker Landon Donovan put injured, Gomez proved a valuable replacement.
It wasn’t so long ago that Gomez was on the outside looking in on the national team, but after a string of starts, the 30-year-old sits at the top of Jurgen Klinsmann’s forward depth chart. Even when he’s not being delivered good chances, Gomez can have an impact on the match. For the second game in a row, he was the key man on the U.S.'s only goal. And he’s also our Man or the Match.