USMNT Report: Time for USA to Settle

US readies for pivotal match with Jamaica in World Cup Qualifying
by Herb Scribner   |   Friday, June 07, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National Team has only lost 2 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers – one against Honduras, and another against Jamaica.

Tonight, the USA returns to National Stadium to face The Reggae Boyz in what will be an important match for the United States as the latest round of qualifying matches kicks off.

THE ROAD TO NOW: The Americans played Jamaica twice in September 2012. After losing 2-1 in Kingston, where the teams will square off tonight, the US return to home soil and squeezed out a 1-0 win in Columbus. 

Two recent friendlies have shown inconsistency from the United States. The Americans were first bullied by Belgium, one of Europe’s finer sides in recent months, in Cleveland, losing 4-2 in a game that showed very little presence by the United States.

Four days later, the US tangled with Germany at RFK Stadium. Along with celebrating its 100 years of existence, the USA rejoiced in its 4-3 victory over a passive and secondary German side.

PRE-GAME CHATTER: When playing Germany, US manager Jurgen Klinsmann wanted to test the Americans in preparation for Jamaica.

“I want them to go through a little pain when you get tired and you hit the wall and you have to pick it up again,” he said. “That’s what you face when you go down to Jamaica. They will try everything to interrupt your game, and I think now they adjust to that grind.”

After the Germany game, Clint Dempsey also highlighted the importance of playing bigger and better teams in preparation for qualifiers.

“They’re going to be tough games, but we prepared by playing 2 top teams. We’re going to make sure we get as many points in these next three games as possible and put ourselves in a good position in the table.”

Dempsey scored 2 goals against Germany, which pushed him ahead of Eric Wynalda in the all-time goal scoring list. But gaining approval from Wynalda wasn’t the end-all for Dempsey.

“It’s good for him to be proud of me because he was a trailblazer for us and hopefully I can keep going,” Dempsey said. “More important is that we take care of business in these World Cup Qualifying games and go on a nice run there. That would be more special to me than how I finish on any list.”

ANALYSIS: Klinsmann has spent his tenure with the United States testing players and tinkering with the lineup. All that needs to come to an end as the USA readies for its most important stretch of qualifiers to date.

The US can’t afford to drop these upcoming qualifiers, especially tonight’s clash with Jamaica. Mexico has found its footing again with a 1-0 victory over the Reggae Boyz, and Panama is making its mark in the table, too, making it more imperative than ever in the Hexagonal round of qualifying that the Americans secure points.

Part of that has to come from Klinsmann settling on a lineup and group of players to carry the team forward. Other than goalkeeper Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley and Dempsey, the USA squad has shifted and switched on several occasions. Players need to become familiar with each other and teams have to build chemistry to be successful. That can only happen with a regular lineup being built, which Klinsmann has yet to do.

The American backline problem continues to plague the team. Germany ignited in the 2nd half of the game and diced up the defenders to rally and bring the 3-goal lead to just 1 goal.

Similar slipups could be costly in Kingston where the Jamaicans proved capable in September. DaMarcus Beasley is too fragile and small to be a top-notch defender, even if he was one of the shining spots in the recent US friendlies. Brad Evans was solid in at rightback against the Germans, but he only faced a secondary German side that wasn’t playing at full capacity. He's likely going to start against Jamaica, which will be a true chance to see if Evans is deserving of the starting spot or not.

Though the Yanks scored 4 goals against Germany, Die Mannschaft’s defense was dreadful as the Germans mostly played a traditional friendly style – uninterested and nonaggressive. Space was freed for the US to take its shots and make runs, which won’t be the case tonight against a Jamaican side that is looking to scratch its way into one of CONCACAF’s qualifying spots.

Jozy Altidore will need to keep his recent turn of luck going. He’s gained his confidence back after scoring a goal against Germany, so Americans fans may finally see one of Holland’s leading goal scorers streak through the qualifiers.

A clash with Jamaica should yield a positive result for the United States if the Americans capitalize on what made them successful against Germany. But Klinsmann’s collective is at a crucial fork in qualifying for Brazil, as this team has spread itself across the spectrum from pure calamity to confident over the past 2 years.

It’s unclear which US side will take the pitch tonight, but Klinsmann has to stow away the beakers and finish the testing. It’s time to settle on a lineup and a plan, stick to it and make serious headway through the Hexagonal.

NEXT UP: June 7 – WCQ: United States vs. Jamaica, National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica. 9:30 p.m. EST, beIN SPORT.


UMass Amherst
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SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.