Jamaica vs. USA: Stunning Loss Forces America into Must-Win Rematch in Columbus

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2012

KINGSTON, JAMAICA - SEPTEMBER 07: Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States reacts after Jamaica scores a goal during United States and Jamaica World Cup Qualifier at National Stadium on September 7, 2012 in Kingston, Jamaica.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Well, that sucked.

After a historically early goal from Clint Dempsey, Jamaica rallied to stun the United States 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier.

America struggled in the midfield (what else is new) while the Reggae Boyz mounted their comeback. Both Jamaican goals came off direct free kicks: The first was drawn of Kyle Beckerman (whose nickname, ironically, is Rasta) and the second was drawn off Maurice Edu.

It's the first time Jamaica has beaten America, a massive––albeit slightly poetic––step back after the Americans ended a similar streak in Mexico.

This loss isn't the end of the world, per se, but it's certainly a screw-up of massive proportions. As Grant Wahl of SI.com puts it:

"Losing to Jamaica puts the U.S. in a situation that isn't exactly must-win on Tuesday against the Jamaicans in Columbus, Ohio, but it won't be far from that. If Guatemala sweeps Antigua and Barbuda this week, a U.S. win on Tuesday would put the U.S., Jamaica and Guatemala all on seven points with two games remaining in the group. Only the top two teams advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying next year."

That is, even with a win on Tuesday, the U.S. could be looking at a down-to-the-wire finish between us, Jamaica and Guatemala. But with a loss, those straits become dire.

All this comes on the heels of, and serves as a foreboding analog for, the U-23 squad's failure to qualify for the Olympics. Forcing themselves into must-win scenarios, the team was eventually bested on a fate-sealing, last-second goal against El Salvador.

Clearly the most talented team in the group (although the midfield problems are very real), the American senior squad could be following in the footsteps of their ill-fated younger siblings.

By losing games like this one, and drawing games like the one against Guatemala, the Americans are letting their margin for error shrink. The double-elimination group play system is designed to ensure the best teams make it through. It's designed to ensure that one anomalous, last-second goal can't eliminate a powerful team––that would look bad for CONCACAF on the whole.

But every game like this the Americans let slip away bring us closer to a future where elimination is a very real, very morbid option.

So, no, this loss is not the end of the world. But puts us in a position where one more like this it very well might be.