On Wednesday evening, the U.S. national team fell 1-0 to Jamaica in an international friendly match at Audi Field. Both teams used the occasion to go over last minute adjustments before the Gold Cup kicks off on June 15. United States coach Gregg Berhalter suffered his first defeat at the helm of the national team after being appointed to the job in December of last year. Berhalter aligned an alternative squad against Jamaica in order to make his final selections for the 23-man squad that will participate in the Gold Cup. Unfortunately for the USMNT, Berhalter’s adjustments to the lineup did not work well, and Jamaica came out victorious in Washington D.C.
The first half of the game was particularly dull, as both teams struggled to create any clear chances in the final third. During the first ten minutes of play, the USMNT controlled the pace of the game but failed to turn their dominance into clear chances or goals. Josh Sargent flicked a header wide after a cross by D.C. United forward Paul Arriola in the sixth minute of play, but apart from that opportunity the U.S. did not threaten Jamaica’s goal.
As Jamaica settled into the game, they were able to match the United States’ intensity and eventually took over possession for a majority of the first half. Gregg Berhalter’s alternative lineup looked disjointed and were unable to string passes in Jamaica’s half. The Jamaican national team had no trouble sniffing out attacks by the USMNT, but they struggled to generate opportunities at the other end.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, though, Jamaican forward Shamar Nicholson found the back of the net to break the deadlock. Nicholson collected the ball outside of the United States’ penalty box and rifled a shot into the top corner from 30 yards out. It was a spectacular goal that made up of for the lackluster performance from both sides up to that point.
Late in the second half, the USMNT pressed for an equalizer, but Josh Sargent and Mihailovic were unable to convert a couple of decent chances. In the 88th minute, Sargent forced Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake to stretch down low to parry a half volley aimed the bottom corner of the net. Mihailovic then scuffed a shot as he raced into the Jamaican penalty box a few minutes later. The score would not move, and Jamaica walked away with a positive result in American soil.
Although this defeat against Jamaica probably leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of USMNT supporters, this friendly gives Berhalter great pointers on how to build his starting lineup for the Gold Cup. This friendly also gives players the opportunity to gel before having to play official matches. Despite an unconvincing performance on Wednesday, the U.S. remains a favorite to reach the Gold Cup final this summer, which will be hosted in Chicago.
As for Jamaica, the ‘Reggae Boys’ are also favorites to reach the Gold Cup final after having made it to the deciding game in the past two editions. Unfortunately for Jamaica, they fell to Mexico and the United States in the 2015 and 2017 final respectively, but they will look to avenge those two defeats this summer. With Wednesday’s win against the United States, Jamaica looks ready to make it far in the Gold Cup once again.