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Initial take-aways from U.S. win over Jamaica in World Cup qualifying

Oct 11, 2013, 8:37 PM EDT

Jamaica v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

KANSAS CITY — The United States clinched first place Friday in CONCACAF final round qualifying out of the region with a 2-0 win over Jamaica, the final World Cup qualifier at home until the process begins anew before World Cup 2018.

Some early thoughts on Friday’s match at Sporting Park:

Credit the U.S. for digging up some urgency

I saw a couple of Twitter pals who thought the United States lacked urgency … and I don’t exactly disagree. Then again, trying to manufacture urgency is tricky business; generally speaking, it’s either there or it isn’t.

In that regard, you’d have to call a wonderful fall night at Sporting Park (another great, loud crowd there) a victory in more ways than one for Jurgen Klinsmann’s men. One of Klinsmann’s larger goals was to create a more aggressive mindset throughout the program. Part and parcel is handling teams in friendlies and in these less meaningful matches – and Jamaica is a team that the United States has regularly handled at home.

The first 60 minutes? Meh. Not much to shout about for the United States. But credit to Klinsmann for a couple of subs that worked out, and to his team for eventually sorting out the midfield and continuing to probe aggressively for channels through the Jamaican back line.

The breakthrough finally came thanks to local lad Graham Zusi (the place nearly came apart when Zusi found the far post in the 76th minute). There was a lot of good work from quite a few U.S. men in that one.

The Jamaicans were pretty much done at that point. The rest was just playing it out, seeing whether the final score would land on 2-0 or 3-0 or wherever.

It took the Americans awhile … but Klinsmann and Co. did ultimately locate that urgency he has worked so hard to create.

Did someone play their way out of roster contention?

In at least one way, this was like a U.S. friendly: the match was mostly about fine-tuning and, from the most practical standpoint, about individual assessment. As I always say with friendlies, the athletes cannot really play their way onto a World Cup team with plum performance in matches that don’t really matter – but they can sure play their way off.

You have to wonder this evening about Alejandro Bedoya.

Bedoya is solidly on the bubble and he was front and center among the brigade who needed a big night at Sporting Park. But the place turned into a mini-house of horrors for Bedoya, who did little right in the first half and was only slightly better after the break.

Klinsmann knows as well as anyone: if a guy cannot do it on a wonderful Friday night with nothing on the line, can he be trusted when it’s all on the line in soccer’s ultimate pressure cooker, a World Cup?

The U.S. back line held up

It’s a little hard to make much of this, as Jamaica’s attack lacks much structure and polish. Generally speaking, the visitors just weren’t very good. That said, Brad Evans and DaMarcus Beasley did well in handling Jamaica’s speed on the flanks.

And centrally, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron were on the job in their first time together as a central pairing. The one nit-pick on Cameron: his passing over longer distances rarely found their targets.

That’s perhaps a product of his playing right back at Stoke, and working with the different angles that come from that spot.

Wondering about Jozy Altidore

Another U.S. man who didn’t have his best night: Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore. He did score toward the end, and maybe that will help him shake the Black Cats funk.

This was always a concern, that he would go to a less-stable situation at Sunderland and watch his game fall to pieces.

There’s plenty of time for a rally. It’s just such a darn shame to see all the good work of the summer more or less evaporate. Altidore is still a good striker – he’s just not a confident striker at the moment. And that’s a problem for the men paid to score goals.

(MORE: 10 quick halftime thoughts from U.S.-Jamaica qualifier)

  1. nappy25 - Oct 11, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    The first 70 minutes were heinous! Who would’ve thought that Castillo would impact the match that much?

  2. godsholytrousers - Oct 11, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    CONCACAF Champions Again, and Again, and Again!

    Thanks Boys!

  3. bobinkc - Oct 12, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    I guess I’ll just never understand why he doesn’t put Zusi and Donovan in together. With the two of them to rule the midfield as a unit, the boys should be able to go all the way, even against the powerhouses.

    • Steve Davis - Oct 12, 2013 at 12:34 AM

      You know, I think when it’s all said and done, that’s exactly what we’ll see … Donovan left and Zusi right

      • godsholytrousers - Oct 12, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        With Bradley and Jones holding, Dempsey in the hole behind Jozy and a back line of???

        Beasley, Besler, Omar, and Brad Evans! There I said it, Brad Evans for Right Back.

      • bear06 - Oct 13, 2013 at 2:31 AM

        Klinsmann is not going to bench Fabian Johnson, he’s easily the starting LM when healthy. He needs to be in the field because he helps the offense so much.

  4. braxtonrob - Oct 12, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    Castillo was superb, but (Steve is right) Jamaica pretty much quit after Zusi’s strike (because they kind of knew then, 2 goals needed for victory was probably asking too much).

  5. mikeevergreen - Oct 12, 2013 at 2:37 AM

    Maybe this will shake Jozy out of his Sunderland funk. Maybe Ellis Short might want to splurge on Graham Zusi and/or Edgar Castillo in the winter transfer period.

  6. travishenryskid - Oct 12, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Kljestan was the sub that changed the game. He changed the pace in the mid field which allowed others to get there space. Clearly the man of the match IMO. He needs to get more looks before the World Cup.

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