World Cup Qualifying

Jamaica 2, USA 1: A Look Back


Photo by ISIphotos.com

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Just three weeks after making history by winning in Mexico for the first time, the U.S. team made history again, only it was the kind they definitely didn't want to make.

Jurgen Klinsmann had to know his U.S. team would be in for a tough night without a handful of key veterans, but he also has to know that his teams chances of leaving Jamaica with a point or three were going to hinge on his roster and lineup selections.

The squad Klinsmann came up with delivered an uninspired, forgettable and worrisome performance in dropping a 2-1 loss to Jamaica. A team that had never once beaten the United States in 18 previous meetings  bossed the underwhelming Americans for much of the night.

"We created chances, but in between those moments we made things far too complicated, " Klinsmann said. "Then you give away free kicks in areas where we knew that the Jamaican team has their strength in set pieces, we knew that, so it was not a good idea.

"After that equalizer they rose to the occasion. They had a tremendous amount of energy and they gave everything they had and at the end of the day they deserve that win."They were hungrier and they were more determined."

The U.S. performance was a far cry from the effort put on by many of the same players that beat Mexico last month. The thing about that historic win was that, as much as finally winning in Mexico matters, the result overshadowed what wasn't really a beautiful game for the Americans.

What the U.S. had on that night in Mexico, but lacked on Friday against Jamaica, was the defensive discipline, organization and attitude necessary to win without the likes of Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Steve Cherundolo and with Clint Dempsey not being 100 percent.

"We got a good result in Mexico with some inexperienced guys," Howard said. "There was no reason to think we couldn't do that again tonight

"Any time you miss your big players, Michael (Bradley) course is a key cog for us and Landon makes things happen for us, but I don't think those are excuses," Howard said. "I just think we lacked concentration in some areas and we weren't nearly as resilient as we should have been."

"The guys that stepped on the field, they're in charge of it," Klinsmann said. "They are responsible for giving everything they have, they are responsible for the outcome.

"I think we have a good group here together that is able to beat Jamaica," Klinsmann said. "We were just doing too many mistakes after we were leading."

Klinsmann can certainly carry some blame for a lackluster showing because he ultimately made the decision to start three defensive midfielders, which led to a serious disconnect between the forwards and the rest of the team.

Both Herculez Gomez and Jozy Altidore were rendered invisible by a lack of service, something Gomez wasn't shy about pointing out.

"We need to definitely come together and sort this out," Gomez said of the floundering U.S. attack. "Guys like me and Jozy, and even Terrence (Boyd), we depend heavily on creativity and service so we definitely need to figure out a way to get more of that.

"I think Clint did as much as he could for us today," Gomez said. "He always gives his all. He's a great player, but we need more of that. We need more players like that."

There wasn't much Klinsmann could do about Donovan being injured, or about Dempsey's prolonged transfer saga keeping him sidelined and costing him match sharpness.

What Klinsmann could control was the cultivation of options, like Sacha Kljestan, who remains an afterthought in Klinsmann's set-up despite being the only American consistently playing in an attacking midfield role in Europe. There are other attacking options in midfield that Klinsmann has yet to see, such as Alejandro Bedoya.

Instead of developing some attacking depth, we have seen Jose Torres given chances to be an attacking option despite seeing repeatedly that he isn't suited for the role. And we have been treated to repeated helpings of Danny Williams as quite possible the least offensive wide midfielder in U.S. history (Here's a secret. Williams isn't a winger).

It is no secret that the United States still doesn't have great depth, and that's not something he can be entirely blamed for. But when bypasses clear-cut options to build depth in areas that sorely need it, and he continues to trot out ultra-defensive lineups, Klinsmann has to shoulder some of the blame.

Klinsmann and the U.S. won't have long to dwell on Fridays disappointment. They head into Tuesday's qualifier against Jamaica in Columbus knowing anything short of a win could put their World Cup qualifying hopes in serious jeopardy.

"Wins like Italy and wins like Mexico don't mean anything If we can't apply them on this type of environment," Gomez said. "We're upset but we're not defeated. The great thing is we have another opportunity on Tuesday and everybody's champing at the bit."

The sense among the U.S. players on Friday was that they realized and acknowledged that they just didn't play well enough. They know they must do better to win on Tuesday.

Klinsmann also has to know he will need to do a better job of fielding a team capable of not just winning, but playing at a level that can show us all that the U.S. national team is making progress.

  • Tony in Quakeland

    For the people calling out Altidore…what did Boyd do when he was subbed in? What did Gomez do after the first sixty seconds? THERE WAS NO SERVICE. There was NO ONE ON THE WING. There was no attacking width from the full backs. And that was due to JK’s player selection, line up and game plan.

    I will say it again. No Bob Bradley team (or Bruce Arena team) ever looked this inept, confused, lost. This was a pathetic performance of epic proportions.


  • Eugene

    Blah blah blah. Look, Jamaica deserves more respect, they are a good team and getting better. They are insanely fast and were skillful with their opportunities.

    What the US had vs. Mexico at Azteca was Chicharito having a bad night. Period, full stop. Mexico lost because they were bad at finishing and their star player underperformed, not because the US did anything fantastic or special.


  • Brett

    yep. The whole night from every forward was “Get the ball – play it back – play a 50/50 ball”

    I am really starting to lose faith in Klinsmann and his philosophy.


  • PD

    Holden starting next year has about the same odds as the Easter bunny filing papers with FIFA for a one tome switch to play for Malta. He’s two years out from being international if he ever gets there again. I’ll be thrilled to be proven wrong, but he hasn’t played a match in over a year.


  • RLW2020

    the USNT is just incredibly inconsistant! I still think this team is very strong and well coached most of the time, but there are days and often streaks where everything goes wrong! We beat Mexico and Italy on their bad days and now the table has turned.

    Regarding the inconsistant play; Beckerman was completely off his game as was Jones and Edu. It all just seemed very psychological like they were always on their heals, committing stupid fouls and couldn’t get past the errors they were making. This is the coach’s job to solve this! Looking forward to seeing how Klinsy deals with these three as they are all first string players and vital to how this team works.

    That said we can not play with 3 dmid again. It just does not create a positive game; way to many fouls, turnovers and congestion. Someone needs to step up and take Donovan’s role for the next game. We need someone to stretch the game out and impose the game. Shea has the potential, Corona possibly but Fabian Johnson might be the best bet, however i don’t know who would fill in at LB.


  • PD

    Not for nothing, but if the US had scored on the sequence right before the half we may not be doing this dance right now. Jamaica’s second goal was pretty fierce and the first goal was unlucky–without the deflection Timmy has that covered.

    Jamaica had a bit of luck, but credit them with making their chances count and the fact that they outworked the US. As we all know, favored teams get beat by underdogs all the time. That’s not the end of the world, but Tuesday is a really big match, now. The biggest of the JK era. If the team loses that match all heck is gonna break lose.


  • boosted335

    a lil bit of both. 1/2 of Chics chances were fluffed and 1/2 amazingly saved…ALL of Chics chances came by way of Cameron

    The reality is our defense is still mediocre (at best) and we rely on Howard to be superhuman because of it.


  • Nolan

    I’m so sick of hearing the excuse of Jozy not doing well due to lack of service. A great forward will make something happen out of nothing.

    I think Herculez was being nice to Jozy by saying the “no service” comment. The first goal didn’t come bc of service to Gomez. It came bc he fought very hard and aggresively for the ball.


  • Mike r

    Clint was good but lets face it his talent wasnt manifested until he learned in England. His first year at Fulham was sporadic and he didn’t get playing time until his running mate hit hurt. Same with Holden, Holden was good and started to become special AFTER his move to Bolton. The Metro stars didn’t rate Bradley and he hardly ever played.


  • Dw

    The coach prepares a team to win, not to “have energy and intensity when required.” This isn’t the beer league man, these players are playing for the United States of America. If they need to be coached on when to have the energy and intensity then they shouldn’t be out there. People are acting like its totally Jk’s fault. The players play the game, not the coach. It’s time for the players to step up their game and play for the flag on their back.


  • malkin

    Disagree on Holden becoming special after moving to England. He made an immediate impact, was injured, came back and made another immediate impact, and was injured again. Dempsey is a different story, as he had to fight for years to become a key man.

    Also regarding current MLS development/talent… I think Shea is certainly that guy. You mention him as raw, which he is, but he’s still talent that has been developed in MLS. He really could be a key part of the 2014 squad (if we make it) without a move to Europe.


  • malkin

    “Jamaica’s dirty tactics”? If kicking our a$$ and beating us to every ball is dirty, well, I sure do wish the US played a lot dirtier.

    Agree with everything else you said though.


  • malkin

    I believe update on Holden is that he’s looking for an October return…which is next month now. However, as mentioned previously with the easter bunny comment, it’s obviously going to take some serious time before he’s back up to full speed.


  • Baz

    We played terrible partly because, as was said in the article, we have no depth. I think Klinsman is partly to blame for that. At one point in the game there were no MLS players on the field for the US at all. Why? Cause Klinsman has low confidence in MLS players. Well guess what? That’s where you’re gonna get your depth!

    Jamaica has plenty of MLS players on their team and they OWNED us for most of the game.

    Wake up, Klinsman. The answer is right in front of you.


  • biff

    Agree with that assessment. As I continue to digest the loss against Jamaican, it strikes me that during all those friendlies the past year Klinsmann could have been bringing in more new faces for tryouts, including players from the MLS. Disappointing.


  • biff

    This is true, PD, both Jones and Edu are capable high-quality forward passes, with, in my opinion, Jones being a better passer than Edu. But their passing normally is done from deep in the midfield, connecint the back line with the attacking midfiedlers. Klinsmann on Friday slotted them both as attacking midfielder/playmakers to connect with Clint Dempsey and the two forwards–Jozy and Herc. I like Edu and see his defensive skills as the second best behind Jones among the U.S. midfieders. But he is not a very good attacking midfielder, while Jones might be a bit better, and Klinsmann screwed up and put those two in the line-up as attacking midfielders/playmakers. It was ridiculous and it should be a wake-up call to Klinsmann to quit dinking around.


  • biff

    Two or three of those early tackles should have been yellow cards and there kicks in the shins and in the second half Jermaine Jones received a deliberate elbow in the face. I agree, thought, that in addition to what in my opinion was highly physical play that went over the boundary into dirty play, Jamaica did hustle.


  • biff

    Hmmm, Cameron to defensive midfielder–intriguing idea. Against Jamaica he did make two or three good runs forward when he had space. And if he does settle in at D-mid for Stoke, then he would be a prime candidate for USMNT d-mid.

    And your comment about George John, this is one of the two or three things that frustrates me most about Klinsmann–after all those friendlies the past year, Klinsmann has failed to give a lot of potential USMNT candidates in the MLS a look, including John (correct me if I am wrong on that).


  • biff

    Agree with what your saying, but would like to add that Klinsmann is responsible for those predicaments we are now facing, such as someone to “step up and take Donovan’s role for the next game.” Instead of bringing in guys who play right wing at the club level, Klinsmann totally wasted several friendlies last year playing defensive midfielder Daniel Williams as a right winger rather than trying new faces. Or for an attacking midfield playmaker, Pontius could have been given a look. But we have what we have for Tuesday (Shea, Zusi, Torres, Corona) and it is going to be very interesting to see Klinsmann’s starting line-up.


  • Harth

    Good point. That was Spencer’s standard response here it Portland and look where it got him!


  • randy

    I couldn’t agree more. Klinsman seems to feel that playing in the Mexican League or Bundesligue automatically makes you more qualified to play on his national team. There is plenty of quality in the MLS, and more importantly creativity which we sorely lacked in the midfield.

    An all MLS team defeated the European champions Chelsea. I’m pretty certain an American MLS all star team could handle Jamaica. I’m beginning to see what the Bayern Munich ownership were so scathing about Klinsman and happy to get rid of him.

    Very disheartening.


  • randy

    I agree completely. We are unfortunately discovering, like Bayern Munich did, that the Emperor Klinssman has no clothes and very little succesful experience coaching. I think Sunil Gulati has a lot to answer for as he was enthralled with Klinssman based on a very dubious coaching track record. Everyone on this blog blaming the players are completely off base, Klinssman has no knowledge of the player pool in the MLS and is obsessed with medicocre Bundesligue and Mexican league talent, over anyone in the MLS, which is where we can get depth and some creativity. We have a stronger player pool then ever. Arena and Bradley did a lot more with a lot less. Until we have a much higher concentration of players plying their trade abroad, I think an MLS coach with knowledge of the domestic league and the American player is a much better option. I hope Klinsman can get us back on track but I am extremely dubious.


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