ST. JOHN’S, Antigua — Eddie Johnson rewarded his coach’s faith in him — twice.
In his first game back with the U.S. national team, Johnson scored twice Friday night, including the winning goal in second-half injury time, lifting the United States to the verge of advancing in World Cup qualifying with a nervous 2-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda.
“We are not happy with what we saw, but we expected a very difficult challenge and they gave us that challenge and it came down to the wire," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “I’m happy for Eddie, getting this moment back in the team. He was all excited the last couple of days."
If the Americans draw with Guatemala on Tuesday night in Kansas City, Kan., they will move into the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The U.S. has 10 points and so does Guatemala after a 2-1 win over Jamaica.
Johnson connected on headers in the 20th minute and then in the dying moments in his first game for the U.S. team in two years. He was added to the squad by Klinsmann, ostensibly replacing the disappointing Jozy Altidore.
“It was a lot of thinking before the second goal. It was 1-1 and I remember the Olympic team was in a (similar) situation," Johnson said. “At the end of the day, you don’t want to be a part of a team that didn’t qualify for a World Cup."
Until Johnson’s second goal, the Americans struggled, particularly with the wind in their face on the wet cricket pitch at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
— The Associated Press