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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Historical Inconsistency: Jamaica defeats USA

Photo credit: Reuters

Jamaica shocked the United States in a historical first-win over the Americans in the continuation of World Cup qualifying. Just a month ago we were talking about the historic triumph of the US over Mexico at the Azteca Stadium. Consistency? Yes, consistency in inconsistency.

Most of us were deprived of this match due to the limited nature of TV coverage (beIN Sport is on DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast on a limited basis). And maybe that is a good thing. While scrambling to find a suitable online signal during the first half, it was clear in the second half that this would be an uphill battle for the US. Most of the possession was Jamaican and Dempsey's goal came way too early.

The second half was hardly reminiscent of the wins versus Italy, Mexico or Scotland. Instead, it was more like the 0-0 tie in Canada, except that Jamaica could penetrate with resolve. Edu and Jones were routinely exposed and Johnson did not maintain a hold on the left flank. Where was the virtuous Geoff Cameron? Even Howard can be faulted for Jamaica's second goal. That's the kind of strike that Howard has for breakfast any given weekend in the Premier League.

As far as the forwards, both Altidore and Gomez looked highly ineffective. Indeed, the most lively player on the pitch was the person with least action in the last 3 months: Clint Dempsey. Now it is also true that Maurice Edu did not see much action in the past few months, and yet he was also thrown into the mix. And yes, Edu was superb versus Mexico at the Azteca, but this is a highly-meaningful match and his role as a defensive midfielder was crucial to keep Jamaica from scoring.

Was the absence of Michael Bradley really that important? After tonight it seems that is the case. His presence, driving spirit and steadiness was missing in the midfield. It's true that he wasn't in Mexico, but that wasn't a competitive match and the players were only fueled by pride and failure was only momentary. A world cup qualifier is an entirely different animal and it deserves respect, always.

Klinsmann made several bold moves today. From the benching of Carlos Bocanegra and choosing Parkhurst instead of Steve Cherundolo or Jonathan Spector, to the switch to a 4-4-2 formation. It did not pan out and suddenly the Messiah coach is on the brink of missing out on World Cup 2014. There was a comment today, "we don't deserve to be in the top 50 after the Jamaica match." I'm not sure I agree, but it's true that if the Americans are unable to win the next three games, they may be watching the rest of qualifying in 2013 from home.

In the past a game like today's was a wake-up call. For good teams that is always the case. Now it's time for the US Men's National Soccer Team to prove us all wrong and show us that it is indeed a good team.

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