FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: USA v Jamaica
By Football News
The United States will hope to continue their march to the FIFA World Cup and heap more misery on Jamaica when the sides meet on Friday.
Jurgen Klinsmann's side have already qualified for Brazil 2014 and could end the Caribbean nation's faint hopes of reaching the tournament when they go head-to-head in Kansas City.
USA currently top the six-team CONCACAF qualifying group with 16 points from eight games, but Jamaica are languishing at the bottom with four points to their name and still searching for a first win of the final phase.
Jamaica can reach a play-off against New Zealand but face a tough ask, first against the Americans and then when hosting Honduras in the final round of fixtures on Tuesday. They also require a draw between Panama and Mexico, who meet on Friday, in order to stand any chance of progressing.
Winfried Schafer's team will need to significantly overcome the form book if they are to defeat their next opponents. USA have won each of their last 10 games on home soil, while Jamaica have not scored on their travels since a Luton Shelton penalty away to Guatemala in October 2012.
Jamaican hopes may be pinned on veteran striker Jermaine Anderson, who kept his side's qualification dream alive with a 92nd-minute equaliser against Costa Rica in Kingston last month.
That goal was just the 34-year-old's second for his country, his first coming in a friendly win over India back in 2003.
He will be especially important with Jamaican record goalscorer Shelton and Sheffield United's Marlon King, who has 12 goals in just 23 internationals, ruled out. First-choice goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is also unavailable due to a broken finger.
Klinsmann has almost a full-strength squad to choose from, but has had to draft Michael Orozco in to boost his defensive numbers after Omar Gonzalez was sidelined by a hip injury, while captain Clint Dempsey misses out with a hamstring problem.
Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones is included, despite being suspended by his club and reportedly requiring knee surgery.
Former Germany striker Klinsmann, who won the World Cup in 1990, insists his side are determined to play at their very best, despite qualification for an eighth-straight finals having been sealed.
"We want to finish qualifying on a high note and prove a point in our region," he said.
"We don’t view these games as the end of World Cup qualifying. For us, it’s the start of preparations for the World Cup, and therefore we have to continue to raise the bar.
"We have had such amazing support from our fans throughout the last two years, and we owe it to them to put our best foot forward."
Star striker Landon Donovan will come into the game in good spirits after tying the all-time MLS goalscoring record over the weekend. He now sits level with Jeff Cunningham on 134 regular-season goals.