Jamaica 2-0 — 2
United States 0-1 — 1
It might be the most impressive victory in Jamaican national soccer team history. It might also be one of the more disappointing losses in United States national soccer team history.
Despite a second half rally, including a goal by captain Michael Bradley, the USMNT could not overcome a two-goal deficit, falling in the Gold Cup semifnials to the underdog Jamaican squad. It is the first time in the last five Gold Cup tournaments that the United States did not make the finals. The last time the squad failed to advance to championship was in 2003 when they lost to Brazil. On the other side of the sports spectrum, it is the first time that Jamaica has ever advanced to the final.
The United States will compete in the Gold Cup third place game at PPL Park in Philadelphia on Saturday. Click here for a full box score of the semifinal game.
Giles Barnes Scored the Eventual Game-Winner After a USMNT Defensive Miscue
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Brad Guzan grabs the soccer ball. Then, as goalie are apt to do, he runs towards the line on the box to throw the ball back into play. Only the ball was over the line before he threw, drawing a whistle and a free kick for Jamaica.
Giles Barnes made the United States pay for the mistake, converting perfectly on the free kick to double up his team’s lead in the 36th minute. Analysts and broadcasters questioned the call to draw the free kick, claiming that the play was regularly overlooked during international competition and citing how difficult it is to see the ball clear the line in real-time.
Michael Bradley Scored a Much-Need U.S. Goal in the 47th Minute
This might be why Michael Bradley is the captain of the USMNT.
The long-time United States midfielder got his team on the board when they needed it the most, connecting on a miscue directly in front of the net to put the ball in the back of the goal. Of course, Clint Dempsey, who has been phenomenal for the U.S. throughout the Gold Cup, got the play started, kicking straight towards the Jamaica goal and allowing Bradley to cut back in for the rebound.
It’s the first time Jamaica’s stingy defense has surrendered a goal in quite some time. Check it out:
The United States Had Plenty of Second Half Chances
Bradley’s goal early in the second half seemed to jump start the USMNT’s front line and the group had a handful of chances to not only tie the game but maybe even take a lead on Jamaica. Aron Johannsson simply could not convert, like that shot in the 50th minute, despite several looks in front of the net. Even Bradley had a another chance midway through the period but his shot deflected off a Jamaican defender and flew just wide of the net.
Thirty minutes into the second half, the United States had controlled 61 percent of possession and had out-shot Jamaica 15-to-8, including 8-to-2 on goal.
Jamaica Was in Control at the Half
Well, that wasn’t the prettiest 45 minutes of soccer that the United States has ever played. Jamaica controlled nearly every facet of the game and jumped out to a two-goal lead on the USMNT that has the favorites collectively back on their heels at the break.
Although the United States was actually leading in possession and corner kicks, the stars and stripes could not convert on opportunities and, instead, allowed Jamaica to jump on theirs. Jamaica attacked with defined set pieces and used the USMNT’s mistakes to open up chances for themselves. The result? Two quick late-half goals.
Darren Mattocks Got Jamaica on the Board First
The Jamaican standout got his team on the board in the 31st minute thanks to an incredibly athletic header that just seemed to inch over the line behind USMNT goalie Brad Guzan.
Jamaica Attacked Early But the USMNT Answered
The underdogs looked solid in the opening minutes of the semifinal match, even drawing a free kick within the first ten minutes of play. The shot, which was fended off in the air by USMNT goalie Brad Guzan, happened after Kyle Beckerman drew a whistle on the defensive line.
Despite some continued midfield miscues, the USMNT seemed to find its attack midway through the half and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann could be heard screaming “We’ve got to get it!” from the sidelines. There were plenty of close calls, including a shot wide of the net by Gyasi Zardes.
Preview: USA One Win Away From Gold Cup Championship Game
So how about that US offense, huh?
Fresh off a 6-0 victory over Cuba, which included Clint Dempsey’s first-ever USMNT hat trick, the United States offense seems to have finally found its footing after sputtering a bit in the early goings of the tournament. Dempsey, free of the responsibilities as captain, has been nothing short of tremendous through Gold Cup play, leading the entire field with a ridiculous six goals. The only time Dempsey hasn’t scored a goal was when the U.S. had already won its group in pool play.
Dempsey has been good. Really, really good and he’ll need to continue to be good against a Jamaica team that is only thinking one thing; upset.
This is a Jamaica team that loads the box on defense, stifling opponents and giving up very few opportunities. The United States will not get the chances it got against Cuba and it will, most likely, not see a second straight hat trick from Dempsey. The U.S. also needs to make sure that it stops turning the ball over at midfield. It’s been a persistent problem throughout the Gold Cup and with Jamaica’s speed set to be a major factor tonight, the USMNT’s midfielers need to be in control.
After all, there’s a trip to the championship on the line here.