A few final thoughts on the USA’s 2-1 loss at Jamaica on Friday night:
*I’ve slept on it and still don’t understand Juergen Klinsmann’s decision to not only start Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones together, but expect the latter two to perform outside their comfort zones on the outer edges of a diamond midfield. Beckerman didn’t play well and was gone early in the second half, and Edu and Jones lacked impact. The Reggae Boyz are fast, and the American midfield couldn’t keep up.
*I wasn’t as troubled by the backline’s effort. The absence of Carlos Bocanegra was surprising. He is not injured. Rather, Klinsmann said afterward, “Carlos had some problems getting a rhythm now, the whole transfer thing,” Klinsi says. “Clarence [Goodson] has been very consistent in Europe.”
I would be stunned if Bocanegra is omitted from the lineup Tuesday in Columbus. Steve Cherundolo’s calf injury prevented him from playing Friday and could return as well. However, Michael Parkhurst fared well on the right side in Kingston.
*Tuesday’s match at Columbus Crew Stadium is sold out: almost 24,000. Kickoff is after 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, Galavision and ESPN3.com. (You already miss beIN Sport, don’t you?) The venue has been good to the USA in the past — particularly when Mexico comes to town. It’s not an absolute mandatory victory for the Americans, but seeing how Group A is unfolding, a loss or draw would increase the pressure in the October finales at Antigua & Barbuda and home against Guatemala in Kansas City, Kan.
The fact that we’re even discussing must-wins and possible group scenarios at this alarmingly early stage of the World Cup qualifying cycle is troubling in itself. The friendly victories at Italy and Mexico were nice, but in the end, were inconsequential. In qualifiers, the Americans labored to put away a minnow (Antigua & Barbuda) and should have secured three points at Guatemala. And then there was Friday’s poor effort.
The heat is rising on Klinsmann, who has injected energy and new ideas but needs to gain more victories. Let’s remember: He is being paid $2.5 million annually, a salary more than four times higher than Bob Bradley’s.
Yes, it’s hard to earn points on the road in World Cup qualifiers, but good teams find a way. Mexico won 2-0 at Costa Rica, a far more treacherous setting than Jamaica. Heck, Guyana gained a point at El Salvador.
According to New York-based writer Michael Lewis, this was the USA’s first loss to a Caribbean team in a meaningful qualifier since 1969. (He doesn’t count matches after the USA had already advanced.) I haven’t gone through the records myself, but I will take his word for it.
*Headlines in the Jamaican newspapers today:
“Brilliant Boyz” (Gleaner)
“Victory at Last” (Observer)
*Highlight of Klinsmann’s postgame news conference:
Jamaican media member: “You keep mentioning the Jamaicans were hungrier. They were not only hungrier, they were better than you in every aspect of the game tonight.”
Klinsmann: “Well, that is your opinion. Congratulations to Jamaica for the win. ... It starts 0-0 on Tuesday night and we will try everything to turn it around. I’m going to be curious what your comments are after that game.”
*I should’ve realized this, but thanks to Soccer America for pointing it out: Jamaica’s Joel Senior, 24, starred at Carroll High School in Washington and played at Howard and James Madison universities as well as USL’s Real Maryland before joining Harbour View last year. On Friday, he entered in the 83rd minute for Luton Shelton.
*I enjoyed my visit to Kingston. Sure looking like I’ll be back for CONCACAF’s final round in 2013 — if, of course, the Americans secure passage.
Save me a cold Red Stripe, mon.