Data: U.S. vs. Jamaica World Cup qualifier
By — Steven Goff,
Group A standings: Jamaica 2-0-1, 7 points; United States 1-1-1, 4; Guatemala 1-1-1, 4; Antigua & Barbuda 0-2-1, 1.
Other group match: Guatemala at Antigua & Barbuda, 7 p.m. (pay-per-view).
Pressure situation: After losing in Jamaica on Friday, the Americans find themselves in an unnerving position midway through CONCACAF’s semifinal round. A victory would put them back on pace for one of the group’s two berths in the final round next year, but another loss or a draw would leave little room for error in the last two matches in October. A regional power for nearly 20 years, the United States figured to breeze through this stage and join arch-nemesis Mexico, among others, in the next round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However, Juergen Klinsmann’s team labored to defeat Antigua in Tampa, conceded a late equalizer in Guatemala and relinquished an early lead en route to the 2-1 loss in Kingston.
Personnel issues: Landon Donovan, the program’s all-time scoring leader, and Michael Bradley, an Italy-based midfielder, remain out with upper-leg injuries. Steve Cherundolo missed Friday’s match with a calf injury but returned to practice this week and goalkeeper Tim Howard is likely to play after suffering a leg contusion Friday. Clarence Goodson, who started at center back in Kingston, is serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. Carlos Bocanegra, a surprising omission from Friday’s lineup, is the top candidate to replace Goodson and partner with Geoff Cameron in the middle of the backline. Klinsmann is expected to tinker with the midfield as well to counter Jamaica’s superior pace and possession.
Home turf: A sellout crowd of about 24,000 will welcome the U.S. team, which has not lost in eight appearances at Crew Stadium (5-0-3). In six previous qualifiers in Columbus, the Americans have earned four victories (three against Mexico) and two draws. One of the ties was against Jamaica in 2004 but came after the United States had clinched a berth in the next round. The Americans are 11-0-2 in home qualifiers against Caribbean opponents since 1996. However, the Reggae Boyz won’t feel out of place in Columbus: Nine of them are employed by MLS clubs. Jamaican midfielder Joel Senior, who entered Friday’s match in the 83rd minute, is an All-Met from Archbishop Carroll High School and played at Howard and James Madison before joining Rockville-based Real Maryland. He currently plays for Jamaican club Harbour View.
— Steven Goff