United States vs. Jamaica II: Winners and Losers

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2012

United States vs. Jamaica II: Winners and Losers

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    The United States picked up a much-needed three points against Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio.

    The 1-0 victory moved the U.S. back to the top of the group in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

    The first half was dominated by the United States. Jamaica was content in dropping back and playing for the draw from the opening whistle, and that gave the Americans plenty of opportunity to shoot on goal. For the first 45, Dwayne Miller was up to the task and assisted by the woodwork.

    Herculez Gomez scored off a free kick in the 55th minute. The deciding free-kick goal returned the favor after Jamaica scored two in Kingston. All three goals in the two matches came from free kicks.

    With just a couple more games left in this stage of qualifying, this was a crucial match for the U.S. after dropping the previous game. Without question, Klinsmann's most important game yet and they pulled it out.

    Here are the winners and losers from the Sept. 11, meeting between the U.S. and Jamaica.

Loser: Jozy Altidore

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    Jozy Altidore entered the match in the 80th minute, but why does he remain on the loser's list?

    Altidore was at one point the future of American striking. Young and talented but simply awaiting the breakout performances, but they never came. Now under Klinsmann, others are stepping up and out performing Altidore.

    Herculez Gomez is becoming the preference and rightfully so.

    When Altidore entered the game in the 80th minute of action, he could have shown something to make a case to get more time on the pitch, but he offered nothing—again.

    But, more or less, he has simply been outplayed. Unless he dramatically improves, he will continue to be a bench player for the United States.

Winner: Dwayne Miller

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    Dwayne Miller, the Jamaican goalkeeper, was simply sensational in the first half of the match.

    He did miss the lone goal of the match in the second half, but that should not overshadow what he did in the first 45. Sure, the frame helped him out as well, but he made some spectacular saves and kept the U.S. off the board.

    Moreover, he made a name for himself.

    Although, we should probably try to forget him coming out of goal to challenge Brek Shea for a ball late in the second half.

    On a big stage with millions watching, he rose to the challenge. Coming off the win in Kingston, he could have had a letdown in this match, but Miller made people remember his name.

Winner: United States Midfield

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    The Jamaicans were content not to pressure in the first half, but we still were able to see a lot of nice ball movement and control from the midfield without Michael Bradley in the lineup.

    It was a positive and exciting performance from the U.S.

    Graham Zusi and Jose Torres definitely stepped up their game and performed up to task in the qualifying match. For American fans, it was great to see Torres play a fantastic 67 minutes.

    After the score, Jamaica opened up a bit, and the midfield continued to play well. It was much better than the travesty in Kingston. And, the U.S. will need to continue to improve as qualifications continue.

    It was great to see better passing, control and a better overall performance from the U.S. midfield.

Winner: Herculez Gomez

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    Herculez Gomez is cementing his spot on the roster.

    Since Klinsmann has come on board with U.S. Soccer and given Gomez more of a chance, he has taken full control of it. Gomez's performance on September 11th, continues to show that Klinsmann has made the right choice.

    It is not merely the goal that makes him in a winner. Gomez is becoming a difference-maker for the United States.

    He makes well-timed runs, has excellent pace and is showing a knack for finding the back of the net.

    When the U.S. gets back to full strength, he will only add to their offensive potential. Gomez makes the U.S. even more of a threat to other top nations. He is helping elevate the status of U.S. soccer.

    It will be exciting to see how potent the offense can be when Donovan and Bradley return. Look for Gomez to continue his offensive output this year.

Loser: Jamaica

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    They are not losers simply because they were not able to come away with a draw against the United States but because Guatemala defeated Antigua & Barbuda.

    The 1-0 result for Guatemala pushed Jamaica to third in the group. Only the top two advance in World Cup qualifying.

    The result will put pressure on both sides when they meet on Oct. 12.

    Jamaica was playing for the draw, to get the one point and remain on top of the group. It was not a poor strategy, but to give the United States 90 minutes of chances was very risky. And, it did not pay off. Now, they find themselves in a battle to get to that second spot.

    Thankfully for Jamaica, there are still matches to be played. Unfortunately, they are behind the eight ball and will carrying a lot of pressure in to those matches.

Winner: Jurgen Klinsmann

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    Without question, this was the most important U.S. match Jurgen Klinsmann has been at the helm for. He had a lot of pressure on his shoulders entering Crew Stadium after the disappointment in Kingston.

    His coaching decisions paid off in a big way as the United States came away with three points to get back in control of their World Cup destiny.

    Had the U.S. came away with just a single point, they would have been two points back with two matches to play. Both remaining matches should be wins, but that would be undue pressure put on the team and Klinsmann himself. The win was important.

    A loss would have likely seen this experiment be labeled as a failure.

    Now, Klinsmann has briefly eliminated the stress of advancing to the next stage. The first minor, but important, test has been passed.

    Oct. 12 is the next match, against Antigua and Barbuda, and should be another three points for the Americans. Klinsmann made the right adjustments, picked up the victory and looks to be back in control.