Well, you can’t say that Jamaica didn’t earn it. They played well all tournament long, continuing their form into the semifinal matchup with the United States. The USMNT, on the other hand, struggled the entire way to this point, and didn’t do much to reverse that trend.
The US kept a pretty similar lineup to what we saw versus Cuba with Guzan in goal, Fabian Johnson at LB, Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks at CB, and Brad Evans started at RB. Brooks was back from his one game suspension, and Evans’ first start of the tournament was likely due to Timmy Chandler’s poor play thus far. The midfield saw Kyle Beckerman just in front of the back line, with captain Michael Bradley in the #10 role. Gyasi Zardes started on the left side, while Alejandro Bedoya was on the right. Aron Johannsson and Clint Dempsey were up top for the US.
The first 25 minutes or so was a back and forth affair, with neither team really gaining control of the game. But the final 20 minutes of the first half was all Jamaica. It started in the 30th minute, when Jamaica won a thrown in on the left side of the box. A deep throw to the middle of the box to Darren Mattocks was spot on, and Mattocks finished with a beautiful header. John Brooks was marking Mattocks, and just looked lazy as he failed to win the header over the much shorter player. 1-0 isn’t a terrible score to come back from, but it got worse in the next few minutes. After making a save, Guzan came to the edge of the box where he threw the ball wide. The linesman ruled that Guzan had contact with the ball outside the box, giving Jamaica a free kick. Giles Barnes converted the free kick with a laser of a shot, making it 2-0 in a span of 5 minutes.
Jamaica continued to look dangerous, but the defense held the scoreline to the half. The US came out in the 2nd half with a vengeance. In the 47th minute, Johannsson sent a shot on goal, which Jamaican keeper Ryan Thompson stopped, but couldn’t keep in his grasp. Thompson struggled with it all day, and Clint Dempsey came up on the rebound. Thompson once again couldn’t hold onto the ball, and Michael Bradley finally put the ball away to cut the Jamaican lead in half. Bradley rallied the troops and the US looked like they might get the equalizer in the next 10 minutes. One of Bradley’s swerve shots went off Thompson’s shoulders and hit the post, but couldn’t find its way into the net.
Jurgen Klinsmann looked to the bench to see if he could get an equalizer. Mix Diskerud, DeAndre Yedlin, and Alan Gordon all came on in hopes of getting the goal. Alan Gordon won a few headers, but other than that, the subs were not very influential. The final 10 minutes were full of time wasting and subs from the Jamaican side, and the US never really threatened. You just got a sense that the US players had given up in the last 10 minutes, just playing long balls that were not successful.
From here, Jamaica will go on to face Mexico in the final on Sunday, while the US will play Panama in a 3rd place game on Saturday. The winner of the Jamaica-Mexico match will earn a matchup with the US on October 9th with a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup on the line. Klinsmann made this tournament a priority for this calendar year, so the result is definitely disappointing. The October 9th date will not be taken lightly.
I will be interested to see what kind of lineup Klinsmann puts out in the 3rd place game. Panama is no pushover, but there is virtually nothing on the line for either squad. It will be interesting to see how US Soccer responds to the performance of the team. The last manager, Bob Bradley, was fired after losing to Mexico in the final of the 2011 Gold Cup. Bradley also made it to the Round of 16 during the WC, so the parallels are similar. Either way, the US will need to regroup in time for the October 9th showdown with the 2015 Gold Cup winner.