BY PATRICK MacDONALD
The daunting task is now upon us – and no I don’t mean trying to find a local pub that actually has BeIN Sport (more on that in a bit).
It’s time for the U.S. to go into Kingston, Jamaica to Independence Park, colloquially known as “The Office,” and continue their march to Brazil 2014. The U.S. will do so without Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, and a fully fit Clint Dempsey. They’ve never won a match in Jamaica, and that first win will be all the more difficult without their three best field players.
Granted they’ve never lost either.
Klinsmann has decisions to make in order to put his team in the best position to win the group in this third round of qualification. There’s no reason to believe that Jamaica, even on it’s home turf, should be better than the United States. However, the missing triumvirate certainly calls into question the U.S.’s ability to get a win in Kingston. Had Bradley, Donovan, and Dempsey all been with this squad and on the field, Klinsmann’s choice would have been a no-brainer push for the win en route to six points. Without those players, an ambitious attack oriented strategy may leave the U.S. exposed and vulnerable. A strategy that goes for the draw maybe soundest, especially if Dempsey can go a full 90 on the return leg in Columbus.
Jamaica has a talented side – that is something that the U.S. should not forget or underestimate. Unlike many other CONCACAF nations, Jamaica’s roster does not consist mostly of players from their third rate national league. In fact, 9 ply their trade in Europe and another 8 play in MLS. And the Jamaicans are fast while the U.S. is not. Klinsmann looked as if he were aware of the problem Jamaica’s speed posed, initially calling in Josh Gatt – until the youngster pulled up lame with a hamstring injury.
The U.S. is vulnerable, there’s no doubt about it, but they should win based purely on a talent v. talent analysis. However, as everyone knows, that’s rarely how it works in CONCACAF. Without their stars, I see the U.S. dropping this one in Jamaica, 2-1.
Predicted starting lineup:
- Cameron was excellent against Mexico and thus earned the spot for this match. Bocanegra is there based solely on his history, and will be warming up for the coming season with Racing Santander.
- Beckerman will likely sweep in front of the backline – a job that he’s done well. Williams should get the start over Torres centrally. While Williams hasn’t shown much on the field, he’s been played out of position, unlike Torres. Central midfield is Williams’ natural spot and this could be his chance to shine.
- Gomez plays right mid a lot for Santos, so he could get the start on the right wing. Altidore has been on fire in the Netherlands. Shea has recovered his form, and the left wing has been dead without him.
-If you’re like me, you need to find a pub to watch the match. Also if you’re like me, you’re initial inquiries may have resulted in dead ends. So in an effort to find all fans a place to watch, I’ve listed NY/NJ pubs that have confirmed they will have the match and will continue to update as I am made aware of others:
Buddha Beer Bar – Brooklyn, NY
D’Arcy’s Tavern – Bradley Beach, NJ
Legends – NY, NY
Mulligan’s on First – Hoboken, NJ
Smithfield’s – NY, NY