The United States takes on Jamaica in Kingston on Friday looking to avenge their first ever defeat to the Reggae Boyz at the same location just last year and in doing so put themselves in a strong position to progress to next year’s World Cup. That loss in the semifinal round of Concacaf qualifying proved arguably the lowest point of Jurgen Klinsmann’s reign to date. But there is now more reason for optimism.
There was a disappointing start to the six team Hexagonal, which decides which sides will make it to Brazil, when the U.S. went down 2-1 to Honduras. But a vital 1-0 win in the snow of Colorado against Costa Rica got the side going and that was followed up by a precious point against fiercest rivals Mexico in the Azteca. And the U.S. should gain further belief from a 4-3 friendly win over Germany just last Sunday.
A positive result in Kingston and the U.S. would head into home matches with Panama and Honduras in the next week looking to put themselves in a comfortable position before the final four games of the Hexagonal in the fall. While the match is important for the visitors, it is even more critical for the hosts to get a win if they are to stand any chance of making it to their second ever World Cup finals.
A 1-0 loss to Mexico on Tuesday has left Theodore Whitmore’s side rooted to the bottom of the standings with just two points from four matches. While they again showed last time out that they are difficult to break down, their scoring woes continued as they extended their record to just one goal in four games. Much of the responsibility to get the goals is likely to fall on striker Ryan Johnson. The Portland Timbers man is one of several Jamaican players to ply his side in Major League Soccer, including captain and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
D: Gordon, Powell, Mariappa, Woodbine
McCleary, Elliott, Austin, Watson, Hue
D: Evans, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley
Zusi, Dempsey, F. Johnson
Prediction: It will be interesting to see to what degree Klinsmann is intent on coming away from Kingston with a win or whether he will be happy to settle for a draw. Jamaica showed nothing at home to Mexico that should dissuade the U.S. from believing that they could and perhaps should emerge with all three points.
Jamaica are likely to be happy to largely sit back and strike on the counter and it will be down to the visitors to try and break them down. That is something with which Klinsmann’s side has struggled with in the past and it may mean that this encounter ends in a stalemate.
Jamaica 0-0 USA
Where to watch: The World Cup qualifier will kick-off from The Office at 9.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.