Jamaica 4-2-3-1: Blake, Francis, Lowe, Lawrence, Powell, Vassell (Magee), Hector (Lewis), Lambert (Williams), Orgill (Mattocks), Brown (Marshall), Foster (Nicholson).
USA 3-4-3: Steffen, Gonzalez, Ream, Miazga (Carter Vickers), Yueill (Amon), Trapp, Robinson (Lovitz), Ariola (Gyau), Sargent, Mihailovic, Roldan (Holmes)
With an exciting summer of football upon us in the States, this was a highly contested friendly between the USA and Jamaica going into the Gold Cup later this month. The U.S. has been going through a transition period for almost a year now with coaching, new players being integrated, and formation changes (3-4-3).
The fans were out in droves, excited to see former and current Bundesliga stars Christian Pulisic and Leon Bailey. The USA started off the game trying to establish possession while being patient and picking their moments to up the tempo in the final third. Sargent, playing as the lone striker down the middle, was starved for service early on but had a great opportunity to put the USA ahead in the 10th minute when his header went wide. The USMNT seemed out of sync at times, cheaply giving away possession whenever the ball was played out on the flanks. Players seemed to not know where they should be with the formation being played.
Both teams tried to play out of the back with Jamaica seeming more in control going forward and retaining possession. Young Peter Vassell, who plays for LAFC, was one of the driving forces in the middle of the pitch when going forward as he was constantly getting on the ball and distributing in the wide areas. The USA missed the presence of Michael Bradley since he usually controls the tempo. Without him, it was erratic in the middle.
The second half started lively with both teams taking the same approach and creating half chances here and there. Several changes were made, as it was a friendly, and both coaches wanted to give players some minutes to see their progress. Jamaica saw its changes pay dividends as The Reggae Boyz deservingly took the lead in the 60th minute through substitute Shamar Nicholson. The USA gave away the ball in the middle which resulted in a pass out wide to Nicholson. He turned his man inside and rifled a world-class finish in the top left-hand corner leaving Steffen with no chance to save it.
Gyau’s introduction sparked some life on the right side for the USA. Prior to his introduction, New York Red Bulls’ Kemar Lawrence was up constantly attacking, but once introduced, Lawrence was more disciplined in his defensive role. As more substitutes were made, the game became more open with the USA creating a glorious chance after a series of passes saw Sargent with a 1 v 1 with the keeper but a heavy touch wide allowed Blake to close in and force a corner kick. The resulting corner kick forced another intervention by Blake who was very calm and commanding in his box the entire game.
Both teams have work to do. Jamaica needs to be more clinical and more professional in finishing games while the USA will rest on the fact that they were missing some key players.
Photo: Hakim Wright