, and he helped carry the United States to a significant World Cup qualifying victory.
The U.S. rebounded from a loss at Jamaica last week and moved back into a tie for its group lead by beating the Reggae Boyz 1-0 Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
Gomez curled in a free kick in the 55th minute for all the offense the Americans needed on a night of high emotion and red, white and blue support.
“That was an awesome homecoming,” Gomez said. “You couldn’t ask for more. The crowd was great, and the guys fed off of it.”
After hitting the frame three times in a dominant first half as goalkeeperDwayne Miller made several sparkling saves, the U.S. went ahead after Clint Dempsey was fouled by Rodolph Austin.
Gomez’s drive from 28 yards went over the defensive wall and to the left of a diving Miller, who was only able to lightly brush the ball with his fingertips.
“That was my distance,” Gomez said with a grin.
A rowdy, partisan crowd of 23,881 erupted into chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” on a night American players said they were thinking about the 11th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Fans received small American flags to commemorate the anniversary, and there was a moment of silence before kickoff.
U.S. coachJurgen Klinsmann
said he did not need to remind the players of the importance of the date.
“Everyone was aware,” he said. “We all knew this was a very special day. The players were outstanding in how they handled it.”
Players circled the field after the game, waving to fans and raising their arms in celebration.
The U.S. team made five changes to its starting lineup — including the insertion of Sporting Kansas City midfielderGraham Zusi.
Zusi, playing his first competitive match for the national team, was the only U.S. starter from Major League Soccer. He glanced a shot off the top of the crossbar from 18 yards in the sixth minute.
The U.S. is tied with Guatemala, 2-1-1, at seven points in Group A of the North and Central American and Caribbean semifinals. Jamaica, 2-1-1, also has seven points but trails on goal difference.
The top two nations advance to next year’s six-team regional finals, which will produce three qualifiers for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
The U.S., seeking its seventh straight World Cup appearance, plays at virtually eliminated Antigua and Barbuda, 0-3-1, on Oct. 12 and then completes the semis Oct. 16 against Guatemala at Livestrong Sporting Park.