The United States advanced to the Gold Cup semifinals after a taxing 1-0 squeaker over Curacao last Sunday night. Unlike the experimental lineup used in the Group Stage finale against Panama, the Americans barely edged the island nation with its full complement of players.
Weston McKinnie scored in the 25th minute after a barrage of other chances set up by Christian Pulisic barely missed. After that, Curacao took control of possession by a 53-47 margin and put up five shots to the United States’ three.
Despite the scuffling, the men’s national team finds itself against a familiar foe in Jamaica for a chance at the tournament final. The two countries face off at 9:30 p.m. EST on FS1 and Univision.
The Jamaicans punched an experienced American team in the mouth in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinals en route to a 2-1 victory. The USMNT exacted revenge in 2017 with a 2-1 triumph in the final for the program’s sixth tournament title.
Since winning the first two matches of the Group Stage by a combined score of 10-0, the offense has screeched to a halt for the Yanks. In the two single-goal efforts versus Panama and Curacao, they only put up five shots total.
Defense has not been an issue, at least on paper. Since a 1-0 pre-tournament defeat to Jamaica (and a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Venezuela), the USMNT has yet to cede a goal. He knows that the Reggae Boyz will offer a more aggressive test.
“We know they like to win the ball, they like to attack, they’re not afraid to play for second balls, they have good physicality up top,” Gregg Berhalter said to ESPN. “They have wingers coming inside to win second balls, midfielders pushing through, attacking midfielders supporting the play. They have some threats. We’ve also looked at how we can break them down efficiently, and do a good job of that.”
Let’s look at the USMNT’s chances in this quarterfinal match.
USA vs. Jamaica Chances & Predictions
As of June 14, the Americans are ranked No. 30 in the FIFA World Rankings. Jamaica is the highest-ranked threat of the tournament, so far, at No. 54 overall.
Much like their American counterparts, the Jamaicans need to figure out their offense. After a 3-2 win over Honduras in the tournament opener, they scored just two goals over the next three matches.
One of their bigger threats will be Darren Mattocks, who plays for FC Cincinnati. He scored the decisive penalty kick in the 75th minute to top Panama in the quarterfinals. Dever Orgill, who plays in Turkey, is the leading goal-scorer with two goals versus Honduras.
Berhalter tinkered with the roster in the friendly loss back in early June, including inserting Cristian Roldan into the starting XI. This led to a second-half error that led to the game’s only score. The midfield this time should be manned by more consistent talents such as Michael Bradley and Christian Pulisic.
Take away youthful errors and insert a more talented lineup, and expect the Americans to set up a final against rival Mexico.
The pick here is 1-0.
Starting XI for U.S. Men vs. Jamaica
USMNT Roster for Gold Cup
|1||GK Zach Steffen|
|2||D Nick Lima|
|3||D Omar Gonzalez|
|4||M Michael Bradley|
|5||D Walker Zimmerman|
|6||M Wil Trapp|
|7||F Paul Arriola|
|8||M Weston McKennie|
|9||F Gyasi Zardes|
|10||M Christian Pulisic|
|11||F Jordan Morris|
|12||GK Sean Johnson|
|13||D Tim Ream|
|14||D Reggie Cannon|
|15||M Cristian Roldan|
|16||D Daniel Lovitz|
|17||F Jozy Altidore|
|18||F Jonathan Lewis|
|19||D Matt Miazga|
|20||M Djordje Mihailovic|
|21||F Tyler Boyd|
|22||GK Tyler Miller|
|23||D Aaron Long|