photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
For a second straight month, Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. men's national team made history, but this time the result was not one they wish to remember.
Weeks after beating Mexico for the first time in a friendly at Azteca Stadium, the United States resumed its World Cup qualifying campaign by suffering a surprising 2-1 loss to Jamaica at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica on Friday night. The defeat was the Americans' first to Jamaica in 19 games and put them three points behind the Reggae Boyz in Group A.
Clint Dempsey got the U.S. team off to a dream start by scoring 36 seconds in, but the Jamaicans rallied with a pair of free kick goals. Randolph Austin netted the equalizer in the opening 45 minutes and Luton Shelton scored the winner in the second half against a United States side that seemed to lack ideas in the final third.
The Americans now have four points at the halfway point of the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. They will not have to wait long to get a shot at redemption against the group-leading Reggae Boyz, as the two teams will square off at Columbus Crew Stadium on Tuesday.
Playing in a 4-4-2 and without key players Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, the United States came out of the gate flying. Herculez Gomez made a run down the right side of the penalty area before unleashing a pair of shots on goal that were blocked but not cleared. That allowed Dempsey to pounce on a rebound and put the ball in the back of the net from eight yards out in his first game at any level in nearly three months.
Jamaica were unable to muster up much of a response offensively, as the trio of Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu helped negate the hosts' speed. The three defense-minded midfielders, however, had issues keeping the ball for the United States and that helped the physical Jamaicans enjoy some good spells in possession.
The Americans were forced to make a number of fouls to stymie the likes of Shelton and Ryan Johnson and Jamaica took advantage. Following a foul from Beckerman, Austin struck a low free kick in the 24th minute that deflected off of the midfielder's foot before rolling past Tim Howard.
Austin's goal gave Jamaica some much-needed momentum heading into the intermission and it also carried over into the second half despite Geoff Cameron and the rest of the U.S. back line holding steady from the run of play.
That was until another foul in a bad spot was conceded, this time by Edu, to give Jamaica another free kick from just outside the penalty area. Shelton then beat Howard with a free kick to put Jamaica up 2-1 in the 62nd minute.
The U.S. team tried to throw numbers forward as the match wore on but their inability to create clear chances allowed Jamaica to secure the three points with relative ease, evoking the Jamaican fans to run onto the field after the final whistle to celebrate the historic win with their team.
What do you think of the United States' 2-1 loss to Jamaica? What was the main problem in the defeat and what needs to change before the next match? How worried are you right now?
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