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U.S.-Jamaica: Scenarios and pressure in focus

Sep 11, 2012, 10:32 AM EDT

Altidore head shot

Is tonight’s World Cup qualifier pitting the United States and Jamaica at Crew Stadium the most pressure-filled match since 2001?

This story makes the case.

I went over some of the pressure points of World Cup qualifier cycles past in this post. But, yes, this is where most of the exits are all covered, still leaving the United States with escape routes in the event of a loss – but not many of them.

U.S forward Jozy Altidore sums it up nicely as the United States bids for one of two berths in final round World Cup qualifying:

If we don’t win on Tuesday, it gets pretty scary.”

Basically, it goes like this:

Let’s just assume Guatemala wins tonight at Antigua and Barbuda. (That’s no slam dunk, but them’s the odds.)

  • If the United States wins tonight: it leaves three teams tied atop the group (Jamaica, Guatemala and the United States). Jurgen Klinsmann’s team has two winnable matches remaining, at Antiqua and Barbuda and at home on Oct. 16 against Guatemala (in Kansas City). Considering that Jamaica and Guatemala will take points from each other on Oct. 12, the United States would find itself in a good spot. All the nail-biting of the past few days would quickly fade to memory.
  • If the United States loses: Klinsmann’s men would wake up Wednesday morning in disarray, still in control of their World Cup fate, but asking serious questions of themselves. Jamaica would need just one point to clinch a final-round berth, leaving Guatemala and the United States to scrap for that second spot. Essentially, the United States would probably have to win both of its remaining matches, probably paying attention to goal difference, too.
  • If the United States ties tonight: It doesn’t change things too much, although it does add a little more wiggle room than the previous unlovely scenario. The United States might still need two wins to advance, depending on that Oct. 12 result in Guatemala City. Either way, the United States would be under tremendous pressure going into its final pair of semifinal round qualifiers.

(MORE: Jurgen Klinsmann’s bid for improvement at stake tonight)

(MORE: Clint Dempsey talks about playing on 9/11)

  1. dfstell - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    I’ve heard the argument that tonight’s game was always a “must win” since you need to win your home games. But, gosh…..wouldn’t it be nice if we could have won that game in Guatemala or gotten a result in Jamaica? Give us those two results and we’re on 7 points right now and sitting pretty.

    I guess it just shows that we’re still a kinda troubled team. We can play with anyone, but when we have a few key players out are susceptible to anyone too.

    • Steve Davis - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      A better result last week would have provided more wiggle room. In other words, a loss tonight wouldn’t fall with quite such devastating effect. It would have made the game feel significantly different, I think. … That said, yes, the regional big dogs should ALWAYS win their home matches.

  2. tylerbetts - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    I’m reminded of the feelings I had during last year’s Gold Cup, after the US lost 2-1 to Panama. Thoughts of “how did we get ourselves in this situation” and “we’re better than this” and “all we have to do is win the winnable game against what should be an over matched opponent and we’re fine”.

  3. mkbryant3 - Sep 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    This is CONCACAF, and I don’t think they want the US to fail to qualify. I may have my tin foil hat on here, but dodgy refs in our confederation can also work to our advantage, and I can see phantom calls go our way to give us every opportunity to progress.

    Also, so tired to hear the US players complain about the field in Jamaica as a reason we lost. Ok, the Office is always hard and bumpy and these guys are pros. Pros do not use field conditions as an excuse (even if it’s partly a cause of failure).

    Yes, we always have “that moment” in qualifying and I think that makes our team stronger to have adversity from time to time.

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