The United States was supposed to cruise through its group. Games against Jamaica weren't supposed to be easy, but they certainly weren't supposed to be lost, either.
And yet, after Friday night's 2-1 loss to Jamaica, the United States is suddenly finding itself desperately needing the three points. What should have been a pretty straightforward group is now looking a bit more dramatic for the United States.
So who has to step up for the United States? Which players need to show more on Tuesday night?
Let's kick it.
A big part of the United States' loss to Jamaica came from the fact that the team was simply outplayed in the midfield. While Dempsey did his thing, the back three in the midfield diamond—Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman—didn't hold up their end of the bargain.
Without Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley available due to injury, it's not shocking that the midfield struggled. But the best way to combat Jamaica's excellent team speed is to control possession, something a team with the superior talent should do.
The midfield failed in that regard, however. The lack of creativity—namely in linking up to the forwards—hurt the United States as well. And obviously, sacrificing the number of free kicks the United States ultimately cost them the match.
If the U.S. wants to earn a huge three points on Tuesday night, it should start with a better performance in the midfield.
The midfield may have struggled to link up play to the forwards, but that didn't stop Hercules Gomez from being busy all night, working hard and finding spaces with solid movement. He had an impact on the game, no question.
However, Altidore was generally pretty quiet. I know he relies on the midfield to set up his attack, but Altidore can't simply become a statue either. I would like to see more assertive movement from Altidore, a player whose talent is obvious, but returns remain inconsistent for the U.S. team.
Dempsey scored the United States' only goal on Friday and played well throughout, so it's not as though he didn't show up in the first match with Jamaica.
But you can't help but feel that if the United States is going to win, the goals are going to come through Dempsey, either as a scorer or creator. Thus, he'll need to once again be the best player on the pitch for the United States, especially without Donovan and Bradley present.
Okay, okay, so he's not a player. But c'mon, Klinsmann—starting three defensive-minded midfielders in a 4-4-2?
Where was the width going to come from? Outside of Dempsey, who was going to creatively orchestrate the attack? Did you really think this unit could either hold possession or match the speed of Jamaica?
Klinsmann needs to trust a player like Brek Shea, someone who can get out wide and add more of an attacking mentality to the side.
Either the United States needs to change its shape or Klinsmann needs to alter the personnel on Tuesday. There is no question that the skipper needs to tweak a few things before the team's next match.
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