When the U.S. national team needs a victory, there is no better place to play than Crew Stadium. They are 5-0-3 in Ohio’s capital, including a 4-0-2 record in World Cup qualifying games. Luckily for the Yanks, their game against Jamaica tomorrow night will be in Columbus.
Jamaica is currently leading CONCACAF’s WCQ Group A with seven points after a 2-1 win against the U.S. in Kingston last Friday. Clint Dempsey gave America an extremely early lead, but the Reggae Boyz’ two free-kick goals secured their first-ever win against the U.S.
The Stars and Stripes are tied for second in the group at four points with Guatemala. Guatemala play minnows Antigua and Barbuda tomorrow, so three points against Jamaica are necessary for the U.S.’s hopes of advancing to CONCACAF’s final qualifying round.
It is sure to be a patriotic night at Crew Stadium. The 11th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks will be celebrated with every fan receiving an American flag. The game is completely sold out, including temporary bleachers installed in both the south and north ends of the stadium. Over 3,000 fans attended the open training session held on Sunday morning.
After such a quick turnaround, expect some changes in the U.S.’s lineup. Captain Carlos Bocanegra is likely to start in the center of defense, replacing Clarence Goodson. Goodson’s yellow card against Jamaica on Friday was his second of the qualifying cycle, suspending him for one game. Geoff Cameron should keep his starting spot in the center. Michael Parkhurst started at right-back on Friday and had an impressive showing. With veteran right-back Steve Cherundolo returning from injury and expected to play and Friday’s starting left-back Fabian Johnson still in the mix, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has a few selection conundrums in defense.
The midfield was the biggest disappointment on Friday. Klinsmann started with three defensive midfielders: Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, and Maurice Edu. The had trouble connecting with the forwards the entire game and were very narrow in their play. To increase wing production, Klinsmann could insert Graham Zusi, Jose Torres, Brek Shea, or Danny Williams into the starting XI.
Attacking midfielder Clint Dempsey will likely start up with either Herculez Gomez or Jose Altidore. Goalie Tim Howard did not practice during the open training session on Sunday due to a leg injury but is still expected to start.
Prediction: U.S. 3-1 Jamaica
With their backs up against the proverbial World Cup qualifying wall and history on their side, the Yanks will come out firing against the Reggae Boyz and will not let up for the entire 90 minutes, earning three points and keeping their World Cup hopes strong and alive.
In spite of supporting the U.S. national team since 2006, this will be my first ever game I have attended in person. My ticket is in the Nordecke USA, and I can not wait to support my country in the sport I love.