Coming off the back of a convincing 4-2 defeat to Belgium there were plenty of fears at least from outside the United States team that the upcoming match against further strong European opposition in Germany could leave the side demoralized heading into their two World Cup qualifiers. Instead the situation is anything but. A 4-3 win over an admittedly weakened Germany side should have given the U.S. side plenty of confidence as they head to Jamaica looking to strengthen their position to make it to Brazil in 12 months’ time.
“I think it obviously helps when you have these games with a team that can play a high tempo,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said after the defeat of Germany on Sunday, according to the US Soccer website. “It forces you to always go both ways.”
And Klinsmann believes the match has left his side in good stead for the trip to Kingston. “I want them to go through a little pain when you get tired and you hit the wall and you have to pick it up again,” he added. “That’s what you face when you go down to Jamaica. They will try everything to interrupt your game, and I think now they adjust to that grind.”
While Clint Dempsey continued to lead by example with two goals against Germany, perhaps the major plus for Klinsmann was the performance of Jozy Altidore. Top scorer in the Eiredivisie this season with 23 goals, the striker had not found the target for his country from open play in nearly two years. But that unwanted streak ended within 13 minutes of the contest in Washington DC. It was not just the goal that was pleasing from the AZ Alkmaar man, he also linked up the play well and set-up Dempsey to score his first goal. The 23-year-old has now made the striking position his to lose.
Klinsmann has no new injury worries, but there are still question marks on the defensive end. The promising Omar Gonzalez was partnered by Clarence Goodson in the drubbing by Belgium, while against Germany he was reunited with his partner from the Azteca, Matt Besler. While the duo that impressed against Mexico largely did so again against Germany, the concession of two late goals will still be a concern.
The U.S. coach will be hoping that his still developing defense will face little examination on Friday against a Jamaica side that has scored just once in their four Hexagonal games to date. Their latest scoreless effort came just on Tuesday when they fell 1-0 to Mexico to leave them rooted to the bottom of the standings. That means that the Reggae Boyz can ill afford another defeat when the U.S. visit or their hopes of making it to a second World Cup could be all but extinguished.
After what happened last time they visited, many observers will say that the U.S. will be happy to walk away with a point, but Jamaica showed nothing against Mexico to suggest that Klinsmann’s men shouldn’t be heading in with the ambition to claim all three and put themselves in prime position for Brazil.
TV Coverage: The World Cup qualifier will kick-off at 9.30 p.m. ET on Friday, June 7. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.