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Jamaica’s Michail Antonio won’t face USMNT in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier

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When the U.S. men’s national team faces Jamaica on Thursday in World Cup qualifying, it will be facing an attack that is set to be without its most dangerous attacking threat.

West Ham striker Michail Antonio will miss Jamaica’s October World Cup qualifiers, including Thursday’s match against the USMNT, citing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The English Premier League player of the month for August, Antonio will remain in England, leaving Theodore Whitmore without one of the his top offensive options.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week,” Antonio said in a statement issued Tuesday by the Jamaica Football Federation.

“Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the club in London at this time,” he said. “I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The 31-year-old switched his national team allegiance to Jamaica from England earlier this year and made his competitive debut in the Reggae Boyz’s 3-0 World Cup Qualifying loss to Panama. Antonio recently became West Ham United’s all-time goalscorer in the Premier League and has six goals in seven combined appearances this season.

Antonio’s absence not only leaves Jamaica without one of the it’s top offensive options, but is the latest on a lengthy list of absentees. Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey and Philadelphia Union forward Cory Burke are out through respective injuries while midfielder Daniel Johnson and defender Liam Moore are also unavailable.

Jamaica is last in the World Cup Qualifying standings with only one point earned through three matches. The Reggae Boyz face off with the USMNT on Thursday in Austin, Texas before hosting Canada on October 10 and traveling to Honduras on October 13.

 

Comments

  1. Call me naive, but Antonio seems like a nice guy, so I’m inclined to just take him at his word. It’s still a tough decision to take on so much travel, not only because of the risk of injury and exhaustion that’s always present in Concacaf, but because the pandemic is still a threat in North and Central America. For that matter, I can’t say I blame Pulisic, Reyna, or Brooks either, whether they’re really all that hurt or just playing it safe with some extra rehab.
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    The vaccination rate in Texas is still pitiful, even though Austin is better than some neighboring counties, and the vaccination rate in Mexico and Central America is undoubtedly worse. There was just a news article in the Guardian about a fully vaccinated 53-year-old guy who died of Covid after returning to England from an awards show in Los Angeles. Most of those players are surely smart enough to follow the news and the science, or at least their club team doctors are.
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    I’m sorry we won’t get to see either Antonio or Bailey this time, because they’re both fun to watch when they’re playing well, as Antonio really has been this season, and he seems so good-natured and cheerful as well. But it made the matchup easier for the USMNT at a welcome time, when our young guys still needed the practice just playing together.
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    There will be other chances for European-based players to shine in Concacaf, when hopefully the situation will be safer all around, and they may be able to help more at a more crucial stage of WCQ. I’d still actually like to see Michail Antonio and Leon Bailey have the chance to play together for Jamaica, and even have a good runout, albeit preferably against some _other_ team from Concacaf.
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  2. Smells like an excuse for a Chandler Problem because none of their opponents are UK red listed and Concacaf travel simply is what it is. It’s always going to be a transAtlantic flight plus some jumping around the continent. And quietly this will be near the halfway point and if Jamaica doesn’t get some points it will be over before West Ham is willing to release him. That being said, we’ll be starting better defenders without Brooks and Ream, and despite committing before Gold Cup, he no-showed the tournament and has only ever bothered 1 cap. So he won’t help them but let’s be real they probably would barely recognize him if he did show up.

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  3. Let’s please not get caught completely unawares, act shocked and indignant should they do something like… pack 10 men in the box and counter.

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