Jamaica vs. USA: Complete World Cup Qualifying Preview, Team News, Prediction
The United States men’s national team takes on Jamaica on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET in Kingston. After a bad defeat to Belgium and then a solid win against Germany in recent friendlies, the USMNT looks to pick up an important three points in this World Cup qualifying match.
Here is your complete preview.
Where to Watch
The game will be broadcast by beIN SPORT, which can be a difficult channel to find as it is relatively new and largely unknown outside the soccer community. You can use beIN’s channel finder to check local listings.
If you’d prefer to watch the game with fellow USMNT fans, check out this list of American Outlaws local chapters.
The U.S. arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday, allowing the team several advantages. According to U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (via U.S. Soccer's website), the team’s early arrival will give the Americans extra time to get acclimated to conditions for Friday’s match:
We really felt it was important to get the guys here early, get settled, and get used to environment. We learned back in February [against Honduras] that when you only come in two days before to a place where it is 90 degrees and really high humidity, it is simply not possible to adjust. So we will get in a few training sessions and experience what the field will be like, and we will be well prepared for Friday.
The early arrival also allowed the U.S. staff and players to watch Jamaica’s match against Mexico on Tuesday night and get in an extra scout on the Reggae Boyz.
Against Germany, U.S. left-back/winger Fabian Johnson came out at halftime, reportedly due to a hamstring injury.
Fabian Johnson subbed out with a hamstring injury. He would be a huge loss for the #usmnt— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 2, 2013
However, per Yanks Abroad, U.S. Soccer stated on Monday that the substitution was precautionary and that Johnson will be available for Friday’s match against Jamaica.
Herculez Gomez, meanwhile, is still a question mark. He missed the U.S.’ game against Belgium with a knee injury, and while he made the bench against Germany, he did not play.
One thing that is for certain regarding Gomez is that he will not play for Santos Laguna again next season. Reports emerged yesterday that Gomez has been signed by Club Tijuana, joining fellow Americans Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona and Greg Garza at the club.
Also in USMNT transfer news, DaMarcus Beasley has been transfer listed at Puebla, leading some to speculate that a return to Major League Soccer may be on the cards.
Jamaica currently sits at the bottom of the CONCACAF hexagonal qualifying group with two points from four games played. It opened up qualifying with an away 0-0 tie to Mexico, tied Panama at home 1-1, lost to Costa Rica on the road 2-0 and lost Tuesday night to Mexico at home 1-0.
By comparison, the U.S. lost its opener to Honduras away 2-1, beat Costa Rica at home 1-0 and tied Mexico away 0-0. The U.S. has four points from three games played and currently sits fourth in the hexagonal. In the CONCACAF hexagonal, the top three teams earn automatic World Cup bids, while the fourth-place team will qualify for a playoff against New Zealand.
Head-to-head, Jamaica and the United States are 1-1 in this World Cup qualifying cycle, having split their semifinal series with a win apiece. The U.S. lost in Jamaica 2-1 last September and then beat Jamaica 1-0 at home four days later.
Both Jamaica and the U.S. have had up-and-down starts to 2013. The U.S. is 2-2-2 so far in 2013 with wins over Costa Rica and Germany, losses to Honduras and Belgium and ties to Canada and Mexico. Jamaica started off World Cup qualifying in 2013 on the right foot, securing a draw away to Mexico, but has gone 0-2-1 since then.
The Jamaicans have a host of new talent on their roster that play professionally in Europe, but they seem to be having a difficult time making the team gel into a cohesive unit. The one thing the Jamaicans do have, however, is the exact thing that the U.S. struggles with—speed up top.
With the U.S. back line in disarray in its recent friendlies against Belgium and Germany, the U.S. should face a serious test. While the Jamaican passing and movement off the ball cannot match that of the Belgians or the Germans, the level of athleticism the Jamaicans bring is intimidating in and of itself.
The good news for the U.S. is that most of its key players are healthy at this time. The Americans should be able to put together a much better performance than they did last September in their loss to Jamaica.
The Jamaican back line held Mexico to one goal on Tuesday night, but with the U.S. finally having Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore all on the field at the same time, the U.S. should have enough of an attacking punch to pick up the win.
Plus, who wouldn’t take this tweet from U.S. Soccer as a good omen?
An American bald eagle just flew over the team charter as it waits for departure. Everyone is feeling a little jazzed about it!— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 4, 2013
Prediction: United States 2-1 Jamaica.
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