United States vs. Jamaica: Winners and Losers

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2012

United States vs. Jamaica: Winners and Losers

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    The United States National Team traveled to Kingston for a big World Cup Qualifying match with Jamaica on September 7th.

    The result was not positive or expected.

    Jamaica defeated the U.S. 2-1 and took control of Group A in CONCACAF qualifying.

    Clint Dempsey put the United States on the board within a minute of action, but Jamaica capitalized in the 22' to equalize. They would take the lead on a Luton Shelton goal in the second half and pick up the full three points.

    Before Jamaica travels to Columbus, Ohio for the next qualifying match against the U.S. let's take a look at the winners and losers from the first meeting in Kingston.

Winner: Luton Shelton

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    The 26-year-old forward put the game away with his 62' goal. A massive goal for himself and the Jamaican national team.

    The Jamaicans have not qualified for a World Cup since 1998, their only appearance at the coveted tournament. A victory over the United States to take control of the group was huge.

    Shelton gave the defense problems all game, and almost took out Tim Howard as well. After beating the defense Howard was forced to come out and collided with Shelton. Fortunately, everyone was fine but it was a scary moment for U.S. fans.

    Shelton's performance, and goal, meant he came away as one of the biggest winners from the match.

Winner: Rodolph Austin

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    Rodolph Austin was the first Jamaican to get on the board off of a free kick on the 7th.

    The 27-year-old midfielder was the engine of the Jamaican squad against the U.S.

    Here is how USSoccer.com recounted the first goal:

    Jamaica responded to the USA’s opening goal, capitalizing on a free kick opportunity following a foul by U.S. midfielder Kyle Beckerman near the top of the box. Jamaica’s Randolph Austin struck a low shot that barely left the ground, but deflected off of Beckerman’s right foot in the wall and found the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1 in the 23rd minute.

    Along with Shelton, Austin came away as the big winner of the match. Not only having the goal, but performing above and beyond what the United States was able to handle in the pivotal match-up.

Loser: U.S. Set Piece Defense

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    The United States did not perform well in Kingston, especially when it came to set pieces.

    Both Jamaican goals came off of free kicks.

    It was a complete failure for the U.S. All 11 men failed to do their part to keep Jamaica off the board and at least come away with a point. Allowing one well struck ball is understandable, but not two. A team cannot give away key chances close to the goal and have a shot at winning the match.

    Fouling Jamaica in good position for their free kicks was bad enough, but not being able to stop the ball from entering the back of the net was even worse.

    The set piece defense flat out failed in Kingston.

Loser: Jozy Altidore

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    Without Landon Donovan making the trip, it was a prime opportunity for Jozy Altidore to step up and be the striker the U.S. needs.

    Jurgen Klinsmann may have been better served if Altidore missed the trip as well.

    When Altidore may have had the opportunity to challenge the defense he refused. He sent the ball to another player, or made a poor touch and let the chance slip away. He was basically absent on the pitch: a complete non-factor.

    Thankfully, Klinsmann made the substitution in the 72' minute with Terrence Boyd.

    Everyone has been waiting for Altidore to take that next step, and he had a great opportunity to do so against Jamaica. He blew it.

Winner: Jamaican Defense

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    They gave up a quick goal when the match began, but quickly made the necessary adjustments and kept the United States off the board for over 90 minutes.

    Sure, the U.S. was missing Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan, but they still put out a talented opposition for the Jamaicans to face. They shut the United States down and made them look sluggish on the pitch.

    The collective performance puts Jamaica in the drivers seat in CONCACAF's Group A.

    Jamaica travels to Columbus on September 11th for the next qualifying match against the U.S. and will need another defensive performance to come away with at least a draw.

    Being able to remain atop the group would be a major boost for the Jamaican national team.

Losers: United States

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    They failed. They flat out failed.

    Whatever the reason, the United States looked flat in Kingston. Even with the quick goal and momentum the whole team lacked a spark and could never get going.

    They let an inferior team control the game and out work them. That is unacceptable.

    After months of positive results, excellent performances, and a sense that everything was moving in the right direction they lay an egg against Jamaica. And all credit should go to them for capitalizing. However, if the U.S. wants to join the ranks of the football elite they have to be able to win these matches.

    It was a very poor performance. There is no way around it. They failed to do even the bare minimum and come away with a draw. They got out played. They got beat.

    The U.S. has to find consistency. What happened in Kingston should not happen. It was a big let down.