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Then Johnson got free in the box and smartly headed Gordon's cross back to his right past the sprawling James. Gordon was making his first international appearance.
The Americans broke through in the 20th minute after controlling much of the early play. Off a corner kick, Graham Zusi took the ball on right wing, fed Bradley and got a return pass as he curled outside the penalty area. Zusi's left-footed cross was met perfectly by Johnson, who headed the ball down, making it skid off the turf past James.
But Antigua's speed began to pay off and, as has been their tendency throughout qualifying, the Americans got lax on defense. A quick burst by Peter Byers got him free in the area on right wing and when center back Clarence Goodson fell, Byers tapped the ball to an uncovered Blackstock for the equalizer.
"We had our chances and could have won the game," Antigua and Barbuda coach Tom Curtis said. "I don't think it went wrong, I think we lapsed for 10 seconds and I'm proud of the guys for their performance against a team full of world-class players."
As rain intensified late in the first half, the United States again took charge of possession, but couldn't connect. Bradley was just off-target with a 25-yard blast in the 40th minute, his shot glancing off the right goalpost. The hosts then challenged Howard with a quick counterattack, but the veteran keeper caught the shot from Byers.
Blackstock shot wide in the final seconds of the half with the Americans off-balance in their end.
NOTES: Johnson now is tied for second-most goals for the U.S. in qualifying games with Brian McBride. ... Substitute midfielder Jermaine Jones drew a yellow card for a hand ball and is suspended for the Guatemala match. ... Bradley returned to the lineup after missing the last two qualifiers with a muscle injury. ... This was the first time Antigua and Barbuda hosted the U.S.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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