ANDREW MINTZ - Sunday, January 18, 2015
The US faces a critical match against U-20 CONCACAF Championship host Jamaica this Sunday.
With a win, the US should remain in the top three of Group A and capable of qualifying for the U-20 World Cup this May. But a loss or even a draw could cause an insurmountable scenario for the US to overcome.
With Panama fixed in first place in Group A, the Americans' World Cup hopes depend on second or third place finish in the group, which would send the team to a single-game playoff against a team from Group B.
The U-20 Americans got off to a wavering start in the qualification tournament, after a devastating 1-1 draw to Guatemala and then a shocking 1-0 loss to Group A leaders, Panama.
The two matches did not seem to bog down the young Americans though as they rebounded against Aruba with an 8-0 demolition.
While scoring seemed to be the most glaring issue through the first couple games, the U-20s managed six goals in just the first half against Aruba and had five different goal scorers by the end of the match.
Coach Tab Ramos altered the team's formation from a 4-3-3, seen from the first two matches, to a 4-4-2 against Aruba. The new formation seemed much better suited for the U-20 and may be utilized against the Jamaicans.
Jamaica, a stronger opponent than Aruba, has not gotten off to a great start with a draw in the first match against Trinidad and Tobago, and then back-to-back losses against Guatemala and then Panama. With just one point through three games, the Reggae Boyz' World Cup dreams rely on a positive result against the US.
The US could be without its captain, Kellyn Acosta, as the FC Dallas defender came up with an injury against Panama and sat out versus Aruba. Acosta is listed as day-to-day.
The US-Jamaica showdown will be held at Montego Bay at 8:00pm EST Sunday.