KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The United States paid dearly for the absence of injured midfielders Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley as an inspired Jamaica team defeated the Americans for the first time ever, 2-1, in a World Cup qualifying match in The Office on Friday night.
The Reggae Boyz scored on a pair of free kicks, including Luke Shelton's 25-yard effort in the 62nd minute that broke a 1-1 tie in the CONCACAF Group A match before an enthusiastic near sellout crowd.
The Americans lost to the Jamaicans for the first time since they began playing in 1988, seeing their 18-game unbeaten streak (10-0-8) snapped.
It was the first U.S. defeat to a Caribbean team in a qualifier that mattered in more than 43 years or since a 1-0 defeat to Haiti in Port-au-Prince on May 11, 1969. That loss closed out a disappointing qualifying campaign for the 1970 World Cup.
Without Donovan and Bradley the Americans had trouble controlling the midfield.
U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann made one surprising addition and one subtraction from his team's starting 11.
He also sat captain Carlos Bocanegra, who had been playing in the four tier in Scotland before his transfer to Racing Santander last week. Clarence Goodson and Geoff Cameron, were paired at center back.
Klinsmann's strategy worked as the Americans struck early. Maurice Edu, fed Herculez Gomez and the U.S. striker fired two consecutive shots, the first one saved by goalkeeper Dwayne Miller, the second one blocked by a defender. The rebound came to Dempsey, who rifled the ball into the net with the game only 35 seconds old.
The Reggae Boyz, however, kept pressing and their persistence paid off in the 24th minute. After Kyle Beckerman's giveaway, the midfielder fouled Lovel Palmer 28 yards out. Rodolph Austin then powered a low free kick past Tim Howard to tie it at 1.