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Recap: USMNT 1–0 Jamaica

On Tuesday night, in front of an electric crowd in Columbus, the USMNT righted the ship and beat Jamaica 1–0, to join Jamaica and Guatemala in a three-way tie for joint-top in the qualifying group, on 7 points. With two games left to play in the semifinal round, the U.S. has a little more breathing room, and, while the scoreboard doesn’t show it, this was a much-improved performance, which should restore some of the confidence shaken by the historic defeat a few nights ago.

First half

While there was no goal in the first 40 seconds, the U.S. opened in dominant fashion. Indeed, the first half was marked by an almost-total ownership of the ball by the United States. At the half’s end, possession statistics would show the U.S. had 80 percent to Jamaica’s 20 percent—an almost unheard-of ratio, more often associated with a team like Barcelona or Spain than the U.S.

Much of that had to do with the starting line-up Jurgen Klinsmann sent out, which was even more aggressive than predicted. As expected, Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra returned to the back line, but it was in midfield where Klinsmann really rang the changes. Looking to counter the lack of width and possession from Friday night, Klinsmann switched formation, moving to a four-man midfield of Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones, Jose Torres, and Graham Zusi, with Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez running up top. The result was a complete reversal in fortune. Williams patrolled in front of the back line, calmly tidying up anything that made its way through, Torres was a ball-retention machine, always showing for the ball, then probing, then recycling, and Zusi combined with Cherundolo on the right to form a truly dangerous attacking partnership.

That partnership nearly bore fruit when, in the sixth minute, Zusi drove down the right channel, exchanged a one-two with Cherundolo, beat his man, then put in a shot on goal, only to have it rebound off the bar. It would not be the last time in the half that the U.S. would hit the woodwork, as a Cherundolo shot in the 19th minute—after more good interplay with Zusi—was palmed onto the post by Jamaican keeper Dwayne Miller, and Danny Williams saw his curling, long-range effort hit the upright in the 26th.

The U.S. was in total control and had several other chances, but, because of the Jamaican keeper and the Jamaican crossbar, the teams nevertheless found themselves scoreless at the break.

Second half

Jamaica started the second half a bit livelier, and had a couple of half-chances early, but the U.S. was still on top, though without generating the kinds of scoring opportunities it had in the first half. That would change, however, in the 55th minute.

Clint Dempsey, who, of all the U.S. attackers, had not looked particularly sharp, received a lofted pass from Fabian Johnson. After playing the ball wide to Zusi, Dempsey took the return pass and was fouled some 30 yards out from goal by Rodolph Austin, one of the Jamaican heroes from Friday night. Gomez, who’d put in a couple of very good free kicks in the first half, whipped the ball in, and though Miller, the Jamaican keeper, got two hands to the ball, he could only push it into his own net. While the keeper should have done better, the U.S. had their goal.

Unfortunately, going behind only prompted the Jamaicans to up their game, and they began to attack the U.S. much more aggressively. The U.S., at the same time, found it much more difficult to hold onto the ball. Klinsmann’s substitutions will again be a point of contention as, on the hour mark, Brek Shea replaced Jose Torres, and while Shea did fine, the U.S. missed the calm possession that Torres had provided.

As the half wore on, Jamiaca had the better chances. In the 69th minute, a dangerous cross from the Jamaican right wing was headed away by Cherundolo with Jamaica’s Ryan Johnson bearing down on him. In the 80th, Tim Howard, with little to do before then, had to dive to palm away a drive by Austin. Luckily for the U.S., that would be the last, best chance for Jamaica, and the U.S. would hold on for the one-goal victory.


We will have a more in-depth analysis and player ratings tomorrow, but the initial reactions to this game are positive. While the U.S. will be disappointed not to have scored more—in a group so closely contested, goal difference isn’t something to be taken lightly—and though the quality of the performance definitely dropped in the second half, Jurgen Klinsmann should be very pleased. Aside from getting the three points, Williams, Torres, Zusi, and others had very good games. The U.S. also showed mental toughness to rebound from a disheartening loss in such resounding fashion.

Attention turns now to October 12, when the U.S. travels to Guatemala, then hosts Antigua and Barbuda four days later. Qualification is firmly in the U.S.’s hands. It just needs to take care of business.

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Jamaica
Date: Sept. 11, 2012
Competition: 2012 FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Group A
Venue: Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Attendance: 23,881
Weather: 73 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary:       1      2      F
USA                                       0      1       1
JAM                                      0      0      0

USA – Herculez Gomez, 55th minute

USA : 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 20-Geoff Cameron, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson; 14-Danny Williams; 19-Graham Zusi (7-Maurice Edu, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 16-Jose Torres (11-Brek Shea, 67); 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Herculez Gomez (17-Jozy Altidore, 80)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 5-Kyle Beckerman, 12-Brad Guzan, 15-Michael Parkhurst, 18-Terrence Boyd
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

JAM : 13-Dwayne Miller; 19-Arian Mariappa, 2-Nyron Nosworthy, 14-Lovel Palmer; 15-Je-Vaughn Watson (20-Tremaine Stewart, 75), 17-Rodolph Austin, 7-Jason Morrison, 6-Jermaine Taylor; 21-Luton Shelton (capt.) (18-Kavin Bryan, 66); 10-Omar Cummings (11-Dane Richards, 76), 9-Ryan Johnson
Subs not used: 1-Duwayne Kerr, 3-Dicoy Williams, 4-Shavar Thomas, 5-Darren Mattocks, 8-Joel Senior,  12-Andrae Williams, 16-O’Brian Woodbine,  22-Ewan Grandison, 23-Jacomeno Barrett
Head coach: Theodore Whitmore 

Stats Summary: USA / JAM
Shots: 10 / 3
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 5
Fouls: 11 / 19
Offside: 2 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
JAM – Lovel Palmer (caution) 17th minute
USA – Graham Zusi (caution) 62

Referee: Jose Pineda (HON)
Assistant Referee 1: Oscar Velasquez (HON)
Assistant Referee 2: Melvyn Cruz (HON)
Fourth Official: Raul Castro (HON)



  1. Great win! Was however not a comfortable win; after we scored Jamaica almost snatched an equalizer. As you say, there are a lot of questions why Zusi and Torrers were subbed out with the subs who had played terribly in Jamacaica and showed not much improvement since Friday night.
    Think Williams was MVP and Zusi was a close second; two players who had not played on Friday night! It is very interesting to note that Zusi is 26 and only recently showed that he is able to play on the big stage (a late bloomer). I think the Union are concentrating too much on too young kids; there are plenty of players that blossom at 24/25; we should identify and go after more of those (Letoux was one!).
    Still have issues in the attacking third (like to see a string of games which we win with 2 goals or more); hope that this will be resolved soon.

    • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

      Re: Your second point. I disagree and I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. I don’t look at it like that, I look at it like “Why he’s already 26!?! Man, I wonder how good he could have been if the American soccer system wasn’t bastardized to hell!” (same thing with Cameron).
      And before you check, yes Zusi did play (or “waste”) 3 years playing college soccer.
      And to say that the Union shouldn’t look to build with youth is ridiculous. You think Porto is going “Man, screw this youth thing. Lets look for 26 year olds!” Late bloomers are nice role players and heart warming success stories, not something to build a club team and national team around.

      • James, you think you know it all but only have been on the soccer scene for a couple of years. Plenty of Americans have made it thru the ‘old’ youth development A-OK; just look at Dempsey, Harkes, McBride, Ramos, Dooley, Wynalda, Jones, Teyna, Donovan. Problem was that no one could figure out why some made it and not more. And then a guy like Dempsey is also getting better as he ages. Also I did not say the Union should not look to build with youth. I said there should be a balanced approach!!

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        You’re right, I’m just not sure why so many people seem resistent or hostile towards change that will turn us into a great soccer nation and not just a good one.
        This is a long term plan and sadly it will include things like lessening the hold of college soccer, getting our young talent overseas, changing the way things are done at the youth level.
        I would imagine you are still young, so aren’t you excited about the possibility that in a few years this will pay off? Or are you that willing to keep the status quo, waiting for a generational highpoint every 20 years and watching our team play Counter attacking football for the rest of your life.

      • I am pretty old and in my life I learned there should be balance to everything. Klinsmann is for me too defensively orientated. He has been great figuring out how we limit giving up goals and in getting players to pass the ball better, but he needs to figure out how to get more balls into the danger zone and get the forwards to score more goals. It may result in us giving up more goals. Altidore has not scored 1 goal yet from free flowing play (and he bangs them in for Alkmaar)!!

      • Dempsey is peaking at 29. Donovan probably did too. 26 is not old for other major American team sports. This is America. We’re different.

        Yes, the American soccer system clearly failed players like Herculez Gomez (30) and Chris Wondolowski (29) in many ways, but Zusi and Cameron (both 26) are not too old, not by a long shot. They have less tread worn off the tires than European counterparts. Plus … good players are good players.

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        “We’re different” We are. I just think we would do well to look at those differences objectively and realize that while some are good, some aren’t.
        26/27 isn’t old, but it’s also far past the honeymoon stage of identifying and counting on young talent to come through the system.
        Let’s be honest here, Cameron is 27 and just moved to Stoke. Stoke is a good team, for sure, but Cameron is making the first major move of his career at an age when players have either plateaued or are on the cusp of the major, career defining move up. Most of the hooplah over Cameron is simply because a MLS player was actually able to transfer into a midtable side in the EPL and start right away.

      • I think you fail to recognize that historically European teams and leagues have dismissed American footballers as under qualified to play on their teams or in their leagues. Scouting Americans is still a newer phenomenon.
        Most of the hooplah over Cameron is simply because the guy is a quality footballer. Just got loads of potential…I could totally see him playing in the Champs league final one day.
        RE: USA game: thought Zusi had a great game and felt his removal disrupted the USA greatly. Agree with Guido, very uncomfortable win and thanks to a goalkeeping mistake we win…

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Whatever happened to the old, “Act like you’ve been here before”?!?! Got a lead? Fine. Get more goals. 3-0 is more comfortable than 1-0. Shea looked terrified to be out there and had been clearly told to just maintain possession. Why put him out there if not to run at the defense and play the game in the attacking half of the pitch. The game was comfortable at 0-0, but once they score, klinsmann has them in a shell. BS. get boyd and altidore for gomez and an exhausted dempsey and try and win the game 5-0. Jamaica had zip zero until the US gave them chances.

  2. Did anyone else spend most of the game worrying that it would be a Unionlike performance where the US dominated possession but would be unable to score (or would give up the equalizer on a corner kick once they did score)? While I agree that Williams and Zusi both played well, I thought Cherundolo was the man of the match due to the great passes he was making all night.

    • Agree that Cherundolo also played great and could have been MVP; another one who did not play on Friday night…

    • Interesting that you say that about the lead. I KNEW that the 1-0 lead would fall like a Union lead, in the last minute with a play that exploded out of nowhere. I was thinking exactly that for most of the second half. The old mindset will be hard to shake, since I have been following Philadelphia sports for so long, and fatalism comes naturally. When the possession shifted to the point that there was such a preponderance of Jamaican control after the US goal, it was a flashback to the old days: How are they going to let it happen this time? I need to take my optimism medication…

  3. The Black Hand says:

    USMNT is almost there. A couple more Germans and we are in business. Just joking…kind of.

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