In a sold out Georgia Dome, a confident USA side faced the speed and persistence of Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz came into the match confident as well, not only getting to this semifinal but riding the confidence of their Copa America performance against South America’s elite.

The Yanks were putting the pressure on early, finding themselves in a great position multiple times in the first 20’ of the game. Jamaican Goalkeeper Andre Blake had his work cut out for him against this heavy offense.

Jamaica had a great chance in the 26’ when Giles Barnes had a wide open shot within the penalty area but skied it over the crossbar. But Jamaica finally hit pay-dirt when Darren Mattocks headed in a beautiful ball on a bad defensive play by the USA.

If their (U.S.) luck couldn’t get any worse, Brad Guzan was called for throwing the ball after he stepped out of the 17-yd box, which gave Jamaica a free kick just outside. That free kick led to a beautifully curled shot by Barnes to put the Reggae Boyz up 2-0 early.

Clint Dempsey had a chance in the 44’ but Andre Blake made a quick slide to save the low-shot. The U.S. went into halftime slow and dejected after their 1st Half performance.

To start the 2nd Half the Yanks came out blazing. Michael Bradley played clean up man scoring a goal off a Blake save in the 48’. Bradley single-handedly changed the momentum and things started to go in their favor. Bradley came again in the 56’ and nailed a 20-yd rocket off the right post, coming within inches of tying the game. Gyasi Zardes has his opportunity for glory in the 66’ but his sliding volley in the penalty area flew into the stands.

The U.S. had their fair share of chances in the 2nd Half but they just couldn’t find a way to convert. Running out of ideas, the Yanks went for speed by bringing on DeAndre Yedlin. He came on and made an instant impact with his speed but continuously got fouled without any calls given. The calls weren’t going for the U.S. at all and on top of that, had a mere 4 minutes to get the tying goal or their Gold Cup hopes would end in reggae ruin.

Jamaica held the ball in the corner and continued to milk the clock with “injuries” and substitutions. The odds were stacked beyond comprehension and sadly the U.S. lost. With this loss the U.S. will be in a one-game playoff for a spot in the Confederations Cup and will play in the 3rd Place Match on Saturday. Jamaica will face the winner of Mexico/Panama on Sunday in the Gold Cup Final.


-Jon J.

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