Gold Cup Semifinal Preview: U.S. vs Jamaica

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by Deny Gallagher
USMNT Staff Writer

The United States are now just two wins away from claiming the 2015 Gold Cup, but on Wednesday night, a formidable Jamaican side will stand in their way.

Know The Enemy: Jamaica

Group A and Group B winners will face off in the semifinal, and it will certainly be a highly contested affair.

It has been a strong tournament for Jamaica thus far, finishing the group stage with seven points. The effort was enough to see them to the top of table above a strong Costa Rica side, as well as El Salvador and Canada.

A big part of the team’s success has been the play of Garath McCleary, whose two goals in the Gold Cup is tied for third most in the tournament. The midfielder, who plies his trade at Reading, has been a real revelation for Jamaica. Prior to the Gold Cup, McCleary only had one international goal and a little more than 10 caps.

There is no question this match will be a physical affair. Jamaica has committed 63 fouls in the tournament, which is the second most behind Panama. While Vancouver Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks has one of the Gold Cup’s three red cards, it is the Houston Dynamo’s Giles Barnes who leads the tournament with 10 fouls committed.

This game will look more like the group stage matches against Honduras and Haiti than the result against Cuba, as Jamaica will be able to get forward and create chances. It will be imperative that the U.S. gets a lead early. The longer this semifinal stays level, the more momentum swings in favor of Jamaica.

The American Perspective

For the Untied States, it is business as usual. The Americans have an impressive 8-2-1 record in the Gold Cup semifinal. In recent years, the Stars and Stripes have been unbeatable in this stage of the tournament, having not lost in the semis since 2005.

After a good showing against Cuba, the United States will look to continue its momentum in all facets of the game.

Despite a great run of form, Jurgen Klinsmann still has decisions to make about his starting back line. The only two players who appear to have solidified their spots in the XI are Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler. Omar Gonzalez looks to be front-runner to partner at center back with John Brooks, who returns from suspension for the semifinal.

It’s easy for a team to be firing on all cylinders after playing Cuba, but Jamaica will be a more accurate assessment of where this team stacks up in the tournament.

Projected Starting XI

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