CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Friday, June 7, 2013
Fresh off of friendlies against Belgium and Germany, the United States National Team resumes World Cup Qualifying against Jamaica at The Office, in Kingston.
The U.S. team is riding a wave of confidence after knocking off head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's and midfielder Jermaine Jones' old team, and they look to continue the run of offensive success as they visit the always tough Reggae Boyz.
Jamaica is currently on the outside looking in after taking a 1-0 defeat to Mexico on Tuesday, and another loss will put them in very bad shape with the remaining number of games quickly dwindling.
The U.S. is sitting in fourth place, even on points with third place Costa Rica and fifth place Honduras, with the only difference being goal differential. A win can move them drastically up the standings as first and second placed Mexico and Panama face off a half hour later, along with the Ticos and Honduras.
It has not been a goal-filled qualifying campaign for the U.S., scoring only two goals in their three games, but their last game, a 0-0 tie with Mexico at the Azteca, earned an historic point and began to show the resolve that can be found in the team. Going into Jamaica, the U.S. team finds themselves in a similar situation, having never won a meaningful game on the Caribbean island. Klinsmann will likely look to utilize a similar roster that featured against Germany, that showed to be successful in stretching the field width and lengthwise.
Fabian Johnson came off the field at half time against Germany, but is fit to play against Jamaica, where he will likely resume his role in the left midfield. With Johnson on the left and Graham Zusi on the right, Jozy Altidore was able to better express himself, which also freed up Clint Dempsey to fit into a more comfortable position behind the forward thrust.
With the lineup expected to remain mostly the same with a couple exceptions, the U.S. will try to stretch the field and play up the flanks, but in turn, Jamaica will likely look to counter-attack the vulnerable American defense, particularly through the middle where they have been exposed numerous times in recent games.
If the U.S. win, they will move five points clear of Jamaica in fifth place, essentially eliminating the Reggae Boyz from the conversation at this point in time. Regardless of the offensive formation and tactics, the attack will be spearheaded through Dempsey, who has scored seven goals in his last six games with the National Team.
The U.S. split the last home and away series with Jamaica in the last round of qualifying, winning one and losing one in September.
Several American players, including Dempsey, Johnson, Zusi, and Michael Bradley are carrying yellow cards. One more and they will be suspended from their next game.
The weather at game time is expected to be in the low to mid 80s, with a chance of rain.