USA bounced from Gold Cup Semifinals in surprising loss to Jamaica
The U.S. men's national team was stunned Wednesday night in a surprise 2-1 loss to Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals. After a blistering first 22 minutes the U.S. looked to be in for a comfortable win in Atlanta. However, the Reggae Boys rallied and delivered two goals on set pieces in a five minute span to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. Captain Michael Bradley tried to rally the host side by slotting home a loose ball after several cracks at goal three minutes into the second half, but the U.S. failed to convert an equaliser.
The U.S play in the third place game against Panama on Saturday while Jamaica play Mexico in the final on Sunday.
Thoughts on the result:
Relax, it's the Gold Cup
Should the United States take a loss to Jamaica seriously? Yes. Should the United States be embarassed losing to a team ranked 76th in the world by FIFA? Absolutely. Standards have been raised after advancing to the knockouts. Is this loss a big deal? Not really.
Jurgen Klinsmann has been adament that he wants to play in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia ahead of the World Cup the following year and the Gold Cup is how you make it there. It is the only reason there is a Gold Cup. Win both of the Gold Cup tournaments leading into the World Cup and you are in. Win one and you are in a playoff game.
With the U.S. already having won the 2013 Gold Cup, the U.S. still has a clear road to Russia. Win the playoff game against either Jamaica or Mexico and they book your ticket. It would have been easier to secure the spot by winning the Cup consecutively, but it in no way prevents the U.S. from achieving their ultimate goal.
The defense is Wrong
Jurgen Klinsmann has invested a lot of time and energy into player development since the 2014 World Cup. John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado are two of the projects Klinsmann has taken on. There's no doubt the potential is there, and Brooks and Alvarado could anchor the back line for years to come if they figure it out.
The problem is that they just haven't figured it out. They don't have the chemistry or cohesion necessary to form a dominate defensive duo. The defense has looked shaky for the U.S. throughout 2015 and Jamaica exposed that through a simple long throw in.
Jamaica didn't believe Brooks and Alvarado could deal with the ball being thrown in the box and neither should Klinsmann. They have had their chance. Time to throw them back to their club teams to figure it out and see what else is in the player pool.
Klinsmann is still the guy
Jurgen Klinsmann is going to get some heat from this loss. And he should. The U.S. has put themselves in a position to dominate CONCACAF. That is the expectation. That is the vision. They failed to do that Wednesday night.
Klinsmann made some curious roster decisions for the Gold Cup and he continues to trot out failed experiments in Brooks, Alvarado, and Timothy Chandler. But, his job is not only to win now, but to succeed in the future. To do so, you have to invest in youth and to his credit, Klinsmann is putting his eggs in the youth basket. He made similar decisions for Germany leading up to the 2006 World Cup (which Germany won). His vision for American soccer is there. His recruitment of duel nationals is there. His philosophy for team development is there. The talent of the players he's working with is not.
The USSF knew that hiring Klinsmann was a long term investment that would pay dividends down the road. We aren't down the road yet. Give him heat, but let him keep his job. We'll be alright.