US DOWN REGGAE BOYZ WITH SOLID EFFORT
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BRIAN SCIARETTA - Sunday, June 19, 2011
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Jamaica vs United States
CONCACAF Gold Cup - Sunday June 19, 2011
RFK Stadium
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Finishing was still suspect, but the United States put on their first solid showing at the 2011 Gold Cup in a convincing win over Jamaica on Sunday.

The US began the game with an interesting starting lineup that did not include Landon Donovan. Both Donovan and Dempsey missed recent training sessions to attend their sisters' weddings and did not arrive until the early this morning.

‘When you make decisions on a lineup you size up all sorts of things," US head coach Bob Bradley said. "It's been a busy stretch for Landon and I felt [with an] afternoon game it made sense to use him as a reserve today and that we could bring him on and that he could give us a lot. In Clint's case we thought he could go from the beginning."

Instead, Bob Bradley elected to go with a five man midfield consisting of Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan and Dempsey.

Jamaica should have struck first in the fifth minute when Bradley kept Jamaica's Luton Shelton onside and left him with a wide open net in front of him. Shelton instead inexplicably skied the ball over the net from 7 yards out.

In the 12th minute, things got worse for the Americans when Jozy Altidore had to be removed with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by 18-year old Juan Agudelo.

"I always want to be on the field, I was going to be prepared in the first half or in the second half," Agudelo discussed, later. "Unfortunately we lost a player that was key to our team in this tournament, but I feel like this stuff happens for a reason. This is my chance and I'm focused more than ever."

Shortly after Agduelo's entry, the US had a string of chances. Dempsey took a pass from Kljestan and hit a sliding shot that Jamaica keeper Donovan Ricketts punched over the bar. On the ensuing corner kick the US was not able to find the end to a low Agudelo cross that went across the goalmouth just a few feet out.

The US continued to dominate the rest of the half and they played their best soccer of the Gold Cup. But finishing once again proved elusive.

"As a team we just said at halftime that we had done a lot of good things," Bradley said of the team's mood at the half. "Keep playing, keep passing the ball. Make sure that when we come out in the second half we get therhythm going the same way. We were confident that that would take care of things."

The US finally broke through in the 49th minute when left back Eric Lichaj sent in a cross that was cleared. Jones however sent in an absolute laser that deflected off a Jamaican defender and past a helpless Ricketts.

"I thing that we've seen that in recent games the understanding in the center of the field with Jermaine and Michael has been good," Bradley pointed out. "And in different moments you see each one on the move. The other one thinking about covering. Certainly Jermaine has a good engine and has the ability in certain moments to get forward and be a threat. That was nice to see."

For Jones it was his first USMNT goal since first joining the team in October.

"The first goal you score with the national team is always special," Jones said with Stever Cherundolo interpreting. "Even more so that it was an important goal. Hopefully more will come."

Following the goal during the celebration, the German-born Jones made an emotional salute to his father who served in the United States military.

"It was [my] way of giving [my father] a nice little Father's Day gift. He was a soldier. It was a nice sign of respect for him."

In the 60th minute, Dempsey's rough luck in tournament continued as he took a cross from Cherundolo only to have Ricketts save it from just a few feet out.

Kljestan enjoyed a strong performance in his first start of the tournament. Frequently he combined with Dempsey in the attack to create opportunities.

"Clint and I have an understanding that we he gets the ball, I am trying to open space for him to give it to me and basically get it back to him for him to play and move," Kljestan said of his chemistry with Dempsey. "I think its visa versa. Especially with Michael and Jermaine as well, they play good balls into us. I think that between Clint and me, our movement of the ball tonight was really good."

In the 67th minute Jamaica was reduced to 10 men as Jones had broken free past the Jamaica defense. Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez sent Jermaine Taylor to the showers with a straight red, but television replays suggested that the American was untouched on the play.

In the 80th minute the US put the game out of reach when Dempsey finally scored as he took a pass from Agudelo on the right side and sent it past a helpless Ricketts for a 2-0 lead.

The US easily controlled the last 10 minutes and as the final whistle sounded the US walked off the field in a confident manner. Unlike the three previous games, they implemented their game plan and dominated their opponent. They will now move on to Houston for the semifinals.

"I thought we played a good game today," Bob Bradley said bluntly. "I thought we were able to, from the start, to a good job establishing control - passing the ball, keeping the ball moving."

"I think ultimately it took awhile to get the goal and the second goal but certainly as far as establishing our game today, I thought we did an excellent job."

For some on the team, they expected this performance.

"There wasn't overconfidence," Howard described. "There was just an assured confidence in the hotel yesterday that we were going to Houston - no two ways about it. We expected this performance from ourselves today. It's been coming. The mood in the locker room is upbeat."

Dempsey agreed as he noted that the team's confidence was improved and that they executed their game plan on both sides of the ball.

"We just played good [soccer]," Dempsey said bluntly. "We were patient, we were confident, we moved the ball around well. We made it difficult for them to play the ball out of the back. We were able to find players in-between their lines. We were able to create chances for ourselves. I think it's the mentality of keep going, keep pressing, keep taking the game to them. We eventually wore them down. I think we were the better team."

For Bob Bradley, the win was not surprising as he sees a team coming together and this has been evident in recent trainings.

"Again, in group play - [they were] tough games," Bradley concluded. "Things just didn't come easily for us. I think that the training that comes in between games - I see it getting sharper. I think that we had our best training session so far on Friday. Very sharp, good energy, the ball was moving quick that day. Some of that came out today."

"So yes, we are making progress."
cbb1217
Monday June 20, 2011 9:25 am
Team looked much better yesterday. they took control of the game and maintained possession. Jones has been running his legs off the last two games. Bradley played well as the holding mid. dempsey continued to put himself in dangerous positions and finshed well on his goal. losing jozy is going to hurt. pulled hamstrings usually take a month to return from.

@ muchadu

freddy should be grateful to be on the squad. i don't think earning time on a second division Turkey side should mean an instant starting spot with the nats. I am happy to see him back in the mix. perhaps he is living up to the hype (and I hope he is). that being said i remain skeptical based on his track record (ie bad attitude and rumoured laziness).
kyle
Monday June 20, 2011 8:32 am
I'm not sure I'd call this progress. perhaps just in the sense we have progressed to the semis. Minus a lucky goal, and a very, very lucky red card that in fairness should have gone the other way; full time likely ends in a draw which is not acceptable. I don't mean to suggest Jamaica deserved a win or that they outplayed us. It's simply that we continue to struggle against teams well below our level.

We still haven't improved on our problems with coming out flat, with finishing, and with creativity in the attacking third.

It's not all bad though. I applaud Aguedelo for a fine performance under intense pressure. Bedoya filled in well on the right flank, and dare I say we have a left back in Lichaj? Mexico should provide a stiff test.
muchadu
Monday June 20, 2011 1:09 am
Better effort tonight,an actual relief to get a decent result. Still a disappointing amount of wasted finishing efforts. This play may be good enough to beat Jamaica and Guadalupe, but its going to have to improve in order to beat Panama and an even better effort to defeat Mexico. Bedoya and Sasha were ok but nothing to get excited about. Bradley gave away too many possessions and has a very heavy touch around the last third of the field. Jones finally looked like the bundelisliga star that he is. Donovan was vacant. Demps missed alot again and his tap in was a great assist by Agudelo. This team still lacks the killer instinct that has to be present. If they dont get it soon,El Tri will school them on how to finish on scoring opportunities. Lichaj looked good. In a bizarre twist Coach finally suited Adu only to let him sit on the bench?! Pair Agudelo with Demps at forward and put freakin adu in the game to finish some opps or thread passes leading to tap ins for others in the panama game.This team is frustrating to watch and the fans need a 4 or 5 goal output to ease the tension.
Paddymac
Monday June 20, 2011 12:22 am
I'm not a bob Bradley advocate, but he got it done today. Good tactical moves and the boys looked sharp. Based on how this team had been playing I half expected defeat. Pleasantly surprised by the effort! They absolutely dominated a hot jamaican side. Hopefully they can exact revenge on panama and leave some left in the tank for that despicable side from south of the border.

Ps did anyone see wynalda and cobi laughing at Marquez getting that horrendous foul? Hilarious
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A big question for U.S. fans heading into the World Cup is surely on Jozy Altidore and just what is plaguing the young striker at Sunderland.
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