WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 — Now comes the serious stuff for the Americans.
After beating Germany 4-3 before 47,359 at a colorful RFK Stadium in an exhibition game on Sunday, the U.S. national team begins a series of three World Cup qualifying games beginning in Jamaica on Friday.
The Americans arrive in Jamaica buoyed by the win over Germany, which saw U.S. captain Clint Dempsey convert two fine goals and Jozy Altidore notch one.
“It gives you confidence,” said Dempsey. “Any time you have confidence from a win, it puts more wind in your sails. You feel by getting a result against a team like this that you can go down there and get the job done in these CONCACAF games.”
American coach Jurgen Klinsmann must have been pleased with the combination play between Dempsey and Altidore and will likely start the duo against Jamaica.
The American players and Klinsmann arrived in Jamaica early and were able to watch the hosts lose 1-0 to Mexico on Tuesday. That win sent Mexico (six points) to the top of the six team qualifying group (Hexagonal) and left the Reggae Boys at the bottom of the table with two points from four games. Jamaica’s hopes of reaching the World Cup next year now looks doubtful as the team faces a tough game in Honduras on June 11.
The Reggae Boys certainly attacked the Mexican goal with speed and vigor and had some good chances, especially from Ryan Johnson.
If not for the fine goalkeeping of Mexican goalie Jesus Corona, who pulled off a number of spectacular saves, Jamaica should have at least earned a point.
Will the Americans (four points from three games) face a demolished Jamaica or a team playing for their lives? Jamaica started the series off with a scoreless tie at Mexico but have faulted since going 0-2-1.
For the Americans, it’s never easy playing in Jamaica on the bumpy field in Kingston that the locals call “The Office.” Last September, the U.S. team lost 2-1 to Jamaica after an early Dempsey goal in group play in World Cup qualifying. So far, the Americans have lost to Honduras away 2-1, beat Costa Rica at home 1-0 in the famous snow game and tied Mexico away 0-0. Depending on the result of the Honduras-Costa Rica game on Friday, the U.S. team could be at top of the group if the team beats Jamaica.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Michael Bradley (AS Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC) Source: U.S. Soccer
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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