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Jamaican joy, U.S. despair: Points on the match

Sep 7, 2012, 10:34 PM EDT

United States v Jamaica - World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

So now we know: the difference makers for the United States … well, they make a difference.

No Landon Donovan? That one stung Friday night in Kingston. A Clint Dempsey that could not possibly have been at “Full Dempsey,” given his three-month removal from competitive soccer? That one was always going to leave a bruise, too.

But the killer was no Michael Bradley in midfield. Oh, how that one put a deathly chokehold on the U.S. attack and ability to hold the ball.

The United States was an absolute mess between the defenders and the front line. None of the three in there (Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu nor Jermaine Jones) will remember the U.S.-Jamaica match fondly.

Nor will U.S. fans, for that matter.

I know this is not what U.S. fans want to hear. They get their Uncle Sam hats on and the “Don’t Tread on Me” t-shirts, and they don’t want to hear that sometimes, in some situations, ties are OK. But here goes …

Believe me, sometimes ties are OK.

Case in point, when you crawl out of Jamaica on the business end of a 2-1 Red Striping. It was a deserved score line, too; Jamaica was the better team. For darn sure in midfield.

We’ll come back later and talk about how much trouble the U.S. qualifying might suddenly be in. (Hint: some, but things are hardly dire.)

For now, let’s go over some talking points from the first Jamaican win ever over the United States. (Yes, the Reggae Boyz record against their Yankee regional rival is now 1-18-10.):

  • A U.S. back line already missing some experience got scary-young when Steve Cherundolo was ruled out due to a calf strain. So the back line, right to left was Michael Parkhurst, Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson. Considering the piecemeal look of it, the back line was not the problem at all. All in all, the rear guard held up admirably. Now, about that midfield …
  • Jurgen Klinsmann arranged a 4-3-1-2, with Dempsey behind two strikers. Trouble is, neither Jones nor Edu could solve the problems in there. They couldn’t deal with Jamaica’s pressure, couldn’t find the outlets, couldn’t find the little seems. It wasn’t all their fault, however. …
  • Parkhurst and Johnson, given their international inexperience, were never going to supply the wide threat. So things were painfully jammed up through the middle. With no outlets wide, Jamaica could target Jones and Edu. And they did. It usually broke down there. When Dempsey did find the ball, things were still too narrow.
  • Beckerman was OK in his role – until the moment he got behind the play, lunged in, committed a foul and set up Jamaica’s first goal. He usually plays the position exceptionally, like a man who understands his limits to the inch. But foot speed is always the point of contention with Beckerman, and it stung him this time.
  • Outside of that first-half goal (which squeezed through the wall – something that should never happen) and Luton Shelton’s fantastic second-half free kick, Tim Howard had little to do.
  • Despite the goal from Dempsey after just 36 seconds, the United States never established midfield possession. In the 44th moment – finally! – the Americans found some patience and possession. It ended with Dempsey being denied from close range. And … yeah, that was about it. From there, the only U.S. opportunities came in the last 15, desperate minutes. And those were half chances at that.
  • Aside from the flagging possession, Klinsmann’s side never created enough drive through the midfield to even create a few restarts that would allow Goodson and Cameron to come forward. In the area of “drive through the midfield,” that’s Bradley’s game. He knows just when to play safe and when to seize more initiative. That’s harder than you think.

(More to come on the blog … so check back)

  1. slxc - Sep 7, 2012 at 10:55 PM


  2. tylerbetts - Sep 7, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    Late last year, with my team going out of MLS Cup with a whimper of a game, I wondered to myself “why did Tony Tchani play that entire game after having not played for so long?”. It was a frustrating decision.

    Tonight, after watching a mostly whimpering US team lose a shocking result to Jamaica, I am wondering to myself “why did Dempsey play the entire 90 tonight?”.

    I remain on the “In Jurgen We Trust” bandwagon, but that was a headscratcher. This team lacked identity tonight. I get MB90 was missing and might just be our most important (best?) player. But, c’mon. On a talent level we outclass Jamaica (just like we do Guatemala). We need to start acting like Goliath and pick off these Davids.

  3. jucam1 - Sep 7, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    I don’t know why you’re surprised, this US team is way overrated… The US Fed needs to go back to the drawing board, this is not a WC team and losing to sad little teams like Jamaica only shows the truth… Please!… Join Conmembol, take your lumps, then in 15 -20 years it can be respectable…. But instead you’ll keep playing in this super weak qualifying region and not get any better

  4. footballer4ever - Sep 8, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Not to dismerit Jamaican footballers, but US should be way about them consistently. I have not doubt they will advance to the last qualyfing phase, but at this rate, i have many concerns they could miss the WC2014 in the end.

  5. tylerbetts - Sep 8, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Ok, I’ve taken the benefit of a night’s sleep and calmed down. I think we’ll all look back on this and put it on the floating Monday Meh List.

    Yes, the US should have played better.
    Yes, the US on talent alone should be dominating just about every team in this region.

    Still …

    Two home wins, and a win over the minnowest of minnows in our group and we go through. Not taking that for granted, because anything can happen, but really, that’s where we are. If we play that crappy and get a miracle goal to equalize at the end, no one cares, and we’re at 5 points instead of 4. And, do you know what the difference is between that and what actually happened? Guatemala has a much better chance of advancing.

    Tuesday is a must-win. Period. But home games should always be must wins against Jamaica, Guatemala, and A&B. ALWAYS.

    I’m not going to be down on a team losing a result when the grass in the stands was better than the grass on the pitch. Not when my team still controls their destiny.

  6. footballer4ever - Sep 8, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Well, for us football fans, it is important that the USMNT not only advances to the HEXagonal phase, but is able to play as a team who has grown and continues to grow. This inconsistent play does not and will not inspire anyone, but makes us perspire instead. The worst thing it could happen to football in the US is for the USMNT not to qualify for WC2014.

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