US Men’s National Team – Jamaica Preview: Take Two
It is fitting that the US Men’s National Team will look to recover from their loss to Jamaica last week by playing their rematch at Columbus Crew Stadium, the home stadium of “America’s Hardest Working Team.”
Thanks to a better goal differential, the US is sitting in second in Group A above Guatemala, but after only managing a tie against Guatemala earlier this year, this is essentially a must win game for the US. The team will have to step up their play against a Jamaican side that could live with a tie.
There was a lot to be desired from the US performance in Kingston, but the return of Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo to the starting lineup and Jurgen Klinsmann’s promise for something completely different this time around gives hope for a much better game in Columbus.
The return of the US captain comes at a good time, with Clarence Goodson’s suspension due to yellow card accumulation. Pairing up with Bocanegra will probably be Geoff Cameron, who had a relatively uneventful first game against Jamaica, but the distribution out of the back was lackluster so we may see a whole new center pairing with Maurice Edu moving back to the defense. Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson will finish off the back four and will have to do a lot of tracking back if Jamaica is able to connect this time with long balls behind the defense. The US back four will also have to make smarter plays to avoid giving away any more free-kicks in dangerous areas.
The midfield is where the most change should happen. Hopefully Klinsmann will not send out three defensive-minded midfielders and instead utilize players who can possess and distribute the ball and players comfortable running the sideline. Of the three that played in Kingston, Beckerman will most likely find himself on the bench after showing he cannot match the speed of the Jamaican midfield. Jermaine Jones did not perform well last game, but if Edu ends up in the defense, Jones will most likely get a shot at redemption over Williams or Beckerman.
The US lacked any real attack from out wide with only two successful crosses. This time around we may see Brek Shea, Jose Torres or Clint Dempsey moved to the outside of the midfield to spread the play and open up the center of the field. Graham Zusi and Torres are Klinsmann’s best options to replace Dempsey for the play-making role in midfield. Torres has the edge in international experience, but Zusi boasts 12 assists this season in the MLS.
Apart from Herculez Gomez’s attacking run that lead to the US goal, the forward pairing did not get much done. This was mostly due to the poor play in the midfield and the aimless long balls from the back line. Depending on what Klinsmann chooses for his formation we may see a shake-up up-top with the inclusion of Dempsey.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7PM CST and the game will be shown on the much more accessible ESPN2.