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Jamaica setback raises serious concerns for USA
by Paul Kennedy, September 8th, 2012 12:48AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, mls, world cup 2014

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The USA needed only 38 seconds to get down to business at The Office, but Clint Dempsey's goal, the fastest U.S. goal ever scored in World Cup qualifying history, raised false hope that Jurgen Klinsmann's depleted team could get a result against Jamaica.

The USA had no answer for Rodolph Austin, the best player on the field, and the 2-1 loss was inevitable. The result snapped the USA's 18-game unbeaten streak against Jamaica, and its manner also raised serious concerns about what lies ahead in Concacaf, where the USA's ability to get results on the road has been the key to its success in World Cup qualifying going back more than 20 years.

DEPLETED LINEUP. Not only were stars Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley unavailable, but veteran Steve Cherundolo, who earned his first cap against Jamaica way back in 1999, was a late scratch. (Also out was injured left back Edgar Castillo.)

The loss of Donovan and Bradley meant that the closest thing to a creative force in the U.S. lineup was Herculez Gomez, who was responsible for the U.S. goal. He evaded Adrian Mariappa at the corner of the goal area and had two shots on goal blocked before the ball bounced to Dempsey in front of goal with keeper Dwayne Miller out of position.

Dempsey has not played in almost three months, but the chance he received was so easy that he probably would not have missed even if he had not played in three years. He pulled the trigger on a few other opportunities later in the game but otherwise wasn't yet sharp enough to help out much in his role as the third attacker underneath Gomez and Jozy Altidore.

But such were Klinsmann's lack of attacking options, or his lack of faith in the options he did have, that Dempsey was forced to play the entire 90 months.

Michael Parkhurst, a central defender by trade, has played some on the outside at FC Nordsjaelland in recent years and did an OK job at right back in place of the injured Cherundolo, but the situation begged for Timmy Chandler to return to the fold. Wishful thinking?

OVERRUN IN MIDFIELD. Klinsmann has placed tons of emphasis on fitness, but Jamaica beat the USA at his own game.

Despite employing three holding midfielders -- Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu -- the USA could not contain Austin in midfield, and twice the Reggae Boyz converted on free kicks.

First, Beckerman fouled Austin, whose free kick deflected off Beckerman and wrong-footed keeper Tim Howard to even the score, and then the recent Leeds United signing from Norway was dragged down again as he ran through midfield, setting the stage for Luton Shelton to beat Howard with a brilliant free kick that he bent over the wall.

But the late charge that has been the hallmark of so many U.S. games on the road in Concacaf qualifying never materialized. Even when it was dominated on the road, the USA has almost always been good for one or two flurries.

That burst never came on Friday -- and the most worrying thing is that it never looked like coming either.

NO MLS PRESENCE. The USA looked in trouble when Beckerman, a Klinsmann favorite, left the game before the hour mark.

Of note, Beckerman's exit left the USA without a single MLS player on the field in a FIFA international match for the first time since the league's launch in 1996.

Brek Shea came on 13 minutes later to restore an MLS presence to the U.S. XI, but Klinsmann's inability to find help from the domestic league in a series that would require him to dig deep into his player pool is telling of the challenge that lies ahead.

Jamaica, of course, does not have that problem. MLS can take heart from the fact that the winning team finished the game with six MLS players on the field.



14 comments
  1. Peter Arnautoff
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 1:11 a.m.
    Brad Friedel?? Edu, Beckerman, and sub Shea useless in this match...where is the depth?

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 1:26 a.m.
    WOWEEEE!!! Well folks, I thought I'd wouldn't say this so soon into Klinamann's sting as Coach, but he blew it! First, any college or even recreational team coach would tell you that you'd go with the team that won during its last game (vs Mexico), but nope he decided to go with a couple of weak guys Beckerman, Jones and Edu, and lo and behold it was Beckerman who was the root cause for the first goal. And jeez, was Howard out of position just a tad on both free kicks? Several experience players whittled away their time on the becnh, players that could've helped, though I doubt if Bradly would've benn any better than Beckerman! Edu was out to lunch, and Altidore ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, leaving the yeoman work up to Gomez and Dempsey... and what, no shots from distance e.g. outside the 18!!! Yikes!!! I saw the Mexico/CR game and all I can say is that Mexico looked very good, which in the long run doesn't bode well for the US down the road!So let's see just how the US responds next Tuesday... well, I least I hope it does!!!

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 1:48 a.m.
    The loss is palatable. The better team loses in soccer....often. See USA in Azteca Klinsmanns continued use of 3 d mids in every situation is not palatable 1. Edu is now a central defender or off the team. He is a liability in midfield 2. Jones should either play the 6 like he does with his club or be dropped. He cannot advance the ball to a forward. Thè data is overwhelming now 3. Beckerman had a bad 30 seconds but why was he starting. Jamaica is a speed team where beckerman should sit. 4. Danny Williams finally got played as a 6 and looked mediocre You know who our best d mids are who have linking and attacking skills? Cameron and Spector . They should start centrally with Bradley if we can survive this bad stretch This loss was all on the coach. Not the players. JK gets praise for his results. He should get the blame when no result is a direct function of his being overly conservative. He better find his inner flexibility fast.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 2:16 a.m.
    Please someone tell our boys, this is the real deal now.Need to show up and play.At no time did it look like they had control of this game.Altidore does nothing for our attack,almost seems to get in the way. MF,non-existent.On the upside,back four did well.Without adding Bradley and Donovan what will be different next week?We may be in real trouble.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 2:28 a.m.
    I still find it difficult that Klinsmann leaves out Lichaj, Dunnivant, Bocanegra, Feilhaber out of the US Lineup? I didn't catch all of the game, but correct me if I'm wrong, the US lacked midfield cohesion, creativity, and lacked control of the game. Sounds like we need another Claudio Reyna, John O Brien, or Tab Ramos like players in there. Fielhaber is technically sound, Torres although had a rough game against Mexico has the ability to control games are lacking right now. It also doesn't help that Donovan, cherundolo, Bradley, and Holden are injured as well.

  1. Mark Torguson
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 4:06 a.m.
    When did Friedal make his return?!?!? He strangely looked different on my TV

  1. rocky rockwell
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 4:23 a.m.
    Friedal? Didn't see Donovan on the pitch either? Have few bevvies before watching the match?

  1. rog garner
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 6 a.m.
    Friedal...Donovan.... looks like writer is having as bad of game as the US did :(

  1. Jonathan Lehman
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 9:04 a.m.
    If we're focused on typos, I'm most impressed by Clint Dempsey's staying on for 90 months. By my count, that still leaves the US a long time to turn the game around.

  1. Scott Ludwig
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 12:11 p.m.
    Great typos. I only caught the Donovan one, missed the 90 months and Friedel. The U.S. looked flat and lacking confidence. The Reggae Boyz played with speed, style and determination. 2-1. Fair result. Maybe the U.S. had a contact high from all the 2nd hand ganja smoke swirling around the stands.

  1. Steve White
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 2:08 p.m.
    Dempsey is the best addition made to the lineup and yet the writer calls him Donovan...geeez!

  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: September 8, 2012 at 6:49 p.m.
    No MLS players on the field for the US. Well, at least Jamaica is taking advantage of MLS. And if the US team is so depleted, why is Klinsmann leaving guys like Zusi and Pontius behind? It's becoming apparent to me that Klinsmann doesn't care for MLS players. That attitude is going to cost us.

  1. Bruce Moorhead
    commented on: September 9, 2012 at 1:51 a.m.
    I agree Ramon. I think Klinnsmann is showing signs of Steve Sampson disease: no confidence in MLS. The talent is there. He has to stop the over reliance on German-Amis. The results have been mediocre.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: September 9, 2012 at 12:05 p.m.
    How can Klinnsmann play 3 Defensive mid's and expect to win. I guess that is what he did in Mexico so now he thinks it is going to work all the time. Where is Feilhaber or Kleston? He leaves Torres on the bench. I don't understand the criticism of Altidore. I have watched some of the replays of his goals scored with his club team and he has real chemistry with those guys. At this point no one is getting him the ball on ths USMNT. Klinnsmann had better wake up soon or the USMNT is in big trouble. No confidence in MLS doesn't make alot of sense at this point in the development of MLS. Klinnsmann is looking more and more like a more defensive oriented Bob Bradley. What happened? Where is the more possession oriented approach. You can't do that with Beckerman, Jones, and Edu on the field at the same time. Two at a time is the most you can play those three. I think one would be enough if he gets the right guys to play on the outside of midfield. Time to wake up Klinsi.


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