U.S. gives Jamaica two gift goals and succumbs in Gold Cup semifinals.
By Robert Wagman
(Wednesday, July 22, 2015) -- The United States men were shocked by Jamaica 2-1 in their CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal today before 70,511 at the sold-out Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
After building a 2-0 lead by finding net twice in a five minute period midway through the first half, Jamaica withstood a second-half barrage to knock the U.S. out of the tournament short of the championship match after the Americans appeared in the last five final games.
The U.S. will face Panama Saturday to decide third place at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., at 4 p.m. (ET), televised on FOX Sports 2 and Spanish-language Univision.
The U.S. downfall started in the 31st minute. Playing on an unusually narrow field that was shoehorned into the Georgia Dome, Jamaica defender Kemar Lawrence threw a ball from the left side into the center of the American penalty area. Striker Darren Mattocks outjumped defender John Brooks and sent a header looping toward the back post. U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan who had stepped up, couldn’t backtrack fast enough. The ball hit the bottom right of the crossbar, caroming off the goalpost, rolling across the goal-line and off the left post before spinning in for a 1-0 advantage in the 31st minute.
Five minutes later, Guzan had the ball, but did not release it before the ball crossed the 18-yard-line in an attempt to start a counter-attack. Though the infraction is rarelycalled in this situation, Jamaica was correctly awarded a free kick just above the top right of the box. Forward Giles Barnes drilled the kick into the top right corner of the net, well beyond the reach of an outstretched Guzan, to make it 2-0.
The Americans came out highly motivated after intermission and it took midfielder Michael Bradley three minutes to respond to Jamaica keeper Ryan Thompson spilling a save. Bradley drilled into the net to reduce its deficit to 2-1.
The U.S. continued to apply pressure to Jamaica throughout the second half, but could not find the equalizer, requiring Thompson to make nine saves. Thompson, who plays for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the U.S. third division, needed a bit of good fortune. A 25-yard blast from Bradley hit Thompson in the chest and he coughed it up, but the ball bounced off the keeper’s right post and safely away.
This was not a match in which the U.S. played particularly poorly, but the Americans were punished by two bad mistakes. Meanwhile, the U.S. could not more than one of the numerous chances it created in the second half. All night, but especially after the break, the American attack was disorganized at best. The two forwards, Aron Jóhannsson and Clint Dempsey rarely saw the ball.
Meanwhile, the Reggae Boyz played well, controlling the tempo and keeping possession of the ball over the final 20 minutes. Subsequently, the U.S. lost to Jamaica for the first time on home soil (10-1-3) and saw its record in the series drop to 13-2-8.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan - 4: On a night he made only one save, he made two errors that ended up costing the U.S. goals. On the first, he started to come out, then back-pedaled, but got his feet crossed up and could not reach Mattocks’ looping header. Then, his foul throw set up Jamaica’s decisive free kick. This performance may set him back on the bench once Tim Howard returns from his summer off around Labor Day..
Defender Brad Evans - 5: He replaced the injured Timmy Chandler and had a solid night defensively, but he did little to add to the offense as Chandler likely usually does. This was badly missed..
Defender John Brooks - 4: His poor marking cost the U.S. the opening goal. All night, he had problems with opposing attackers’ pace. He played a mediocre game, which was his level of performance throughout the tournament..
Defender Fabian Johnson – 5.5: The best U.S. defender. He handled Jamaica’s pace well and managed to get forward often to join the attack
Defender Ventura Alvarado - 4.5: He was shaky in back, did not pass well, and added little offensively. Saying that, he was the better of the two central defenders..
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 6: He was everywhere in the second half, scoring once and slamming shots that should have added at least one more. .
Midfielder Gyasi Zardes - 4: He had pace, but uses it poorly. He contributed little in a very forgettable appearance..
Midfielder Kyle Beckerman - 4.5: Maybe the number of minutes he has played in the tournament finally got to him. He had great trouble with the speed of Jamaica’s attackers and, at times, was completely ineffective. He was ready to come out by the hour.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya - 5.5: He had to play a lot of defense and was effective, but he, too, ran out of gas in the second half when he should have contributed to the offense, but largely didn’t.
Forward Aron Jóhannsson - 5: He had a point-blank header on a rebound and should have converted easily. Instead, he skied it over the crossbar. That was the story of a frustrating night.
Forward Clint Dempsey – 5: He had a high work rate, but it was pretty much a wasted effort. He received little or no service and seemed to disappear late in the match.
Midfielder Mix Diskerud (67th minute for Beckerman) - 5.5: He pushed forward at times very well, but in doing so left defensive gaps. A mixed performance.
Forward Alan Gordon (73rd minute for Jóhannsson) – 5.5: He added a bit to the attack but was, by and large, ineffective.
Midfielder DeAndre Yedlin (78th minute for Bedoya) - 5: He came in to add pace to the U.S. attack in the final minutes, but he faced defenders with as much speed and he was neutralized.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Michael Bradley.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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