United States vs. Jamaica Soccer: 5 Keys to an American Win in Kingston
The United States men's national team goes into Kingston, Jamaica on Friday for an important World Cup qualifier. The USMNT sits tied atop Group A with Jamaica in the CONCACAF tournament and the winner could become the No. 1 qualifier.
It's not necessarily a must-win for the U.S. as it still has three more games to play including a home match against Jamaica on Sept. 11. But it would be great to keep the team rolling after a historic victory against Mexico a few weeks ago.
The USA faces some real hurdles due to a few key injuries, but if it can play the same inspired football it showed against Mexico, it should should come away with three points.
Here are five keys to an American victory.
Tim Howard's Play in Goal
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That's a fair point to make, but you can't forget the USMNT boasts one of the best keepers in the world.
Tim Howard is playing his best right now, pitching a shutout in Estadio Azteca to help give the U.S. its first victory in Mexico and keeping a clean sheet against Manchester United in his last game with Everton.
Simply said, the Yanks always have a chance to pull out a victory with Howard manning the net.
Will the Defense Hold off Speedy Jamaicans?
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The defensive group selected for this friendly isn't overly fast. That could be a problem considering it is facing two speedy strikers in Omar Cummings and Darren Mattocks.
Against Mexico, the defense played admirably and was able to help the U.S. side to its first ever win in Mexico City. Given that, I would mostly stick to using the same back four as Jurgen Klinsmann looks at Jamaica.
Maurice Edu performed well against Mexico and should be in the starting lineup again. Carlos Bocanegra will probably join him given that he's the team captain.
Fabian Johnson and Steve Cherundolo are likely to start on the outside, but I wouldn't rule out Michael Orozco Fiscal, who scored the game-winner against Mexico.
No matter who Klinsmann decides to put on the field, the Americans must show the same passion and heart they displayed against Mexico. If they can, they should be looking at another three points.
Can Brek Shea Produce Magic Again?
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Brek Shea's stunning assist on Michael Orozco Fiscal's goal against Mexico was a huge jolt of energy that propelled the Americans to their historic win.
Shea was poised to have a breakout year after his play last fall, but he has since regressed. His call-up against Mexico wasn't as exciting as it would've been this time last year. However, he took advantage of his opportunity and was thrust back into the national spotlight.
With Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan's injuries, the USMNT needs a player to step up and make some plays.
Shea and Jose Torres are the most likely players to fill this role at midfield, but don't be surprised to see Klinsmann try out Joe Corona.
Either way, someone has to give the Americans a playmaker in the middle, and Shea might be that man again.
The Strikers Must Find the Back of the Net
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Under Jurgen Klinsmann's reign, the USMNT has sometimes struggled to put points on the board. Those same problems could rear their ugly head again with the injuries to Donovan and Bradley, as well as the possibility of a less-than-fit Clint Dempsey.
It could fall on the shoulders of the three-headed beast Klinsmann has assembled at striker.
Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd and Herculez Gomez have shown promise in the past, but they've also had their struggles on the international stage.
The good news is all three men are enjoying solid starts to their club years and Boyd impressed many during Olympic qualifying.
If any or all of these three can play at a high level consistently during international play, the USMNT will become all the more dangerous as we move toward 2014.
Clint Dempsey Putting Aside Recent Distractions
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Because of the recent turmoil around Clint Dempsey's possible landing destinations during the transfer period, the star comes to Jamaica without having played a match in awhile and lots of questions about his fitness.
Dempsey can't afford to be off his game as the Americans lack any other star players.
Dempsey has quickly become the Yanks' best player and he must perform to his potential given the injuries to Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley.
Dempsey should shake off the rust early in the match and begin to show why he's regarded as the best American footballer around.