DAVID SMITH - Saturday, June 18, 2011
The US will need to shake off a relatively disappointing group stage on Sunday if they hope to get past Jamaica when these two teams meet in the Gold Cup quarterfinal in RFK Stadium.
A surprisingly weak set of games to open the competition saw the Stars & Stripes only manage to take second place in Group C, one point behind winners Panama.
They did bounce back from their shocking defeat in the second game to beat Guadeloupe by the narrowest of margins and reach the final eight of the competition, however must now deal with runaway Group B winners Jamaica.
The Reggae Boyz soared through their first three games, taking all nine points while holding their opponents scoreless. They are led by the second leading scorer in the competition in Demar Phillips, and have been particularly impressive on both sides of the ball.
The only potential dark cloud for the Jamaicans is the emergence of reports in the German press that their 4-0 win over Grenada to open the tournament is one of several Gold Cup games under investigation by FIFA, however will do little to take away from their strong performances.
The two teams last met in a 2006 World Cup warm-up, in a game which saw the US squeeze out a 1-0 win. They have played twice in previous editions of the Gold Cup, with the US winning on both occasions, and holding an overall undefeated record in the all-time series.
Both teams can count themselves fortunate to have all players available for the game, particularly Bob Bradley's squad who had several entering their final group game sitting on a yellow card and facing a possible suspension.
The winner of the game will face off against either Panama or El Salvador in the semifinal, potentially setting up a re-match for the US of their earlier 2-1 loss to the Panamanians.
Both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were absent from several days of practice immediately prior to the game to attend family weddings, which will surely not sit well with American fans should the pair fail to impress.
The afternoon game kicks off at 3pm local time a RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.