Last Friday night, something occurred that had never happened to the United States Mens National Soccer Team. The unthinkable, unimaginable, and certainly shocking result sent waves through the footballing world. The USA, against their neighbors to the south, Jamaica, had lost 2-1 in Kingston.
The USA was on a roll early in that game, scoring just 35 seconds in. While they had never won their previous four matches, all draws, they had never lost.
For the 33rd ranked team in the FIFA Coca-Cola Rankings, they have a lot of work to do if they want to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Tonight, they did what they had to do to win.
On the 11th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the USA took on Jamaica in a much different contest than four days earlier.
The USA controlled possession early in the game, while Jamaica seemed content to bring all 11 back in defense and clear it when an opportunity presented itself.
Jamaica relied heavily on their goalkeeper, Dwayne Miller, and he was up to the task for most of the night.
The United States was relentless in their attempts on goal, hitting the frame in three of their first six shots. It was not until the 55th minute that Hercules Gomez put them ahead for good on a free kick.
After this 1-0 victory for the USA, what did we, the fans, learn about this team?
First, the USA is still not ready for the bigtime just yet under Jurgen Klinsmann. Improvements are coming, slowly but surely, but the USA still has a long way to go. Offensively, it hurt not having Landon Donovan, but they need others to step up. There were moments tonight that young players did show initiative, but it was inconsistent
Brek Shea came on as a substitute late in the game and was unimpressive. Shea needs to distribute of the ball and find his teammates, which was the exact opposite of what he did tonight.
Secondly, the USA needs to play better with the lead. Geoff Cameron looked anxious when he had the ball later in the match, catching the eye of Carlos Bocanegra, who promptly told him to “calm down.” When Jamaica started to go forward, their speed caused problems for the home side. The Reggae Boyz found themselves with a few quality attempts on goal, only to be stoned by Tim Howard.
Thirdly, Danny Williams could be a name to watch out for. His confidence grew throughout the match and was at a high when he ripped a shot on goal, only to have his shot cruelly denied by the post. Williams distributed the ball well, found holes in the Jamaican defense, and filled in nicely when coming back to defend.
Fourthly, Jozy Altidore has to find his form. Though Altidore was a late substitute, he was inefficient with the ball. For the USA to contend in Brazil, Jozy will have to play like the striker he was in qualifying six years ago.
While these are just a few of the issues for the USA, the team has a lot to work before they can go to Brazil. Thankfully, they have the time to do it.