Soccer: 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.
Johnson, who plays his club soccer for Seattle Sounders FC, 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.
“It’s good to be back in the mix,” Johnson said. “Going into this game the coach has a ton of confidence in me to put me wide out on the wing.”
Until his second goal, the Americans struggled, particularly with the wind in their face on the wet cricket pitch at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in St. John’s, Antigua. Early in the second half with the score tied at 1, the Antiguans had several shots just miss wide. But the best scoring opportunities in the late going were for the U.S.
Sacha Kljestan’s hard right-footed shot was punched away by Molvin James in the 81st, and then he got his hands on Michael Bradley’s header in the 86th. The winner came when Johnson got free in the box and smartly headed Alan Gordon’s cross back to his right past James.
After controlling much of the early play, the U.S. broke through in the 20th minute. Graham Zusi’s left-footed cross was met perfectly by Johnson who headed it home.
Antigua’s speed paid off to find the equalizer. Peter Byers’ quick burst got him free and he found an uncovered Dexter Blackstock for the tap-in.
If the Americans beat 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.
Stalemate continues in NHL lockout
NHL: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman still hasn’t spoken to players’ union chief Donald Fehr since a brief meeting Wednesday, but negotiators on both sides are back in contact as the lockout drags on.
There was no meeting Friday, after two straight days of negotiations at the league’s New York office, and there are no current plans for more bargaining to take place.
Frustration is building on both sides as the lockout approaches its fifth week. All games through Oct. 24 have been called off, and more cuts are expected soon with no new labor deal in sight.
Rose tops Westwood to capture World Golf
Golf: Justin Rose beat European Ryder Cup teammate Lee Westwood by a stroke to win the eight-player World Golf Final and earn a career-best $1.5 million.
The fifth-ranked Rose shot a 5-under 66 in the all-English final at the Antalya Club in Belek, Turkey, to finish 5-0 in the $5.2 million event. Rose birdied the opening hole on the Sultan Course and led the rest of the way against fourth-ranked Westwood.
Rose sealed the match by holing a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th. Westwood earned $1 million.
• Mallinger leads at Frys.com: John Mallinger opened a four-stroke lead in the Frys.com Open, making an eagle and two birdies on the final four holes for a 9-under 62.
Mallinger eagled the par-5 15th and closed with consecutive birdies to cap his second straight bogey-free round and reach 14 under at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif. Billy Horschel, 65 on the day, and Jhonattan Vegas, 67, were second.
• Strong pack one back of Forsman: A 7-under 65 gave Dan Forsman a one-stroke lead over Fred Funk, David Frost and Larry Mize after the first round of the Greater Hickory Classic.
Forsman had eight birdies and a bogey at Rock Barn Golf and Spa’s Jones Course in Conover, N.C.
Logano captures eighth win of season
NASCAR: Joey Logano raced to his eighth Nationwide Series victory of the year, passing Brad Keselowski with eight laps to go after taking on two tires and a splash of gas.
Logano led 62 laps en route to his 17th career victory and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. He has made 18 series starts this season.
Keselowski made a quick pit stop with nine laps left, but his pit crew didn’t get enough fuel in his tank and he couldn’t challenge for the lead. He finished 18th. Kevin Harvick was second.
• Vettel continues to pace Formula 1: Sebastian Vettel had the fastest time in practice for the Korean Grand Prix in Yeongam, edging Red Bull teammate Mark Webber and Formula One championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Vettel, who has won the previous two races to move within four points of Ferrari’s Alonso in the drivers’ standings, was 0.032 seconds faster than Webber at the Yeongam circuit. Alonso was 0.328 seconds back.
Bruyneel leaves to prepare defense
Miscellany: Lance Armstrong’s former manager, Johan Bruyneel, left the RadioShack-Nissan team Friday after he was singled out as a central figure in the former Tour de France champion’s doping program. The team said the decision was by “mutual agreement,” adding Bruyneel “can no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way.”
Bruyneel said he was leaving to “concentrate on my defense,” having chosen an arbitration hearing to fight charges leveled by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
• Gold-medalist Thorpe reveals years of depression: Five-time Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe says he spent much of his life battling “crippling depression,” occasionally considered suicide and often turned to heavy alcohol consumption to manage his moods. In an extract of Thorpe’s upcoming book, “This is Me: The Autobiography,” he said he had never spoken openly about his mental condition to friends or family.
• Williams freed after three months in jail: Ex-Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams was freed after a judge gave him a suspended sentence in a sexual assault case in which Williams insisted he was innocent.
Williams, 23, had been jailed since he was convicted in July of groping two women and reaching inside their pants without their consent at a party in December 2010. While Williams won’t spend time in prison, he still has a felony conviction.
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