MNT Jun 18, 2011
Jamaica celebrates Ryan Johnson's goal against Honduras.
Sunday’s match against Jamaica at RFK Stadium will be the first against the U.S. since 2006, when Ben Olsen scored past Donovan Ricketts in a 1-1 draw in the final match before Bruce Arena named his roster for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Since then, the teams haven’t faced off with Jamaica unable to make its mark in the later stages of CONCACAF competitions. Paired in a difficult group in the semifinal round of 2010 World Cup qualifying, Jamaica didn’t advance to the final round after losing out to Mexico and Honduras, who both went on to qualify for South Africa.
Until 2011, results in the Gold Cup hadn’t gone much better. Following a 3-1 defeat to the U.S. in the quarterfinals of the 2005 event, Jamaica didn’t qualify for 2007 and was eliminated in the group stage last time around.
This year, however, Jamaica has seen resurgence and is playing with a renewed confidence. They ran the table in Group B with wins against Grenada (4-0), Guatemala (2-0) and Honduras (1-0), while a defense backstopped by Ricketts has yet to give up a goal, and has allowed few scoring chances.
“They are playing very well. They are a good team,” U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan said. “I’ve kept in touch with Donovan (Ricketts) throughout the tournament and they are certainly confident. I think they are happy with where they are right now … It’s going to be a test for us.”
Offensively, Demar Phillips leads Jamaica with three goals while names familiar to the U.S. camp, including Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls) and Ryan Johnson (San Jose Earthquakes), provide some of the biggest threats. Across the board, Jamaica’s speed and athleticism present the biggest danger for the U.S.
“Their athleticism and their speed are the things that stand out up front,” U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said. “They had a good first round. They flew through their group stage so they are going to be full of confidence right now and we have to come out and have the same confidence. They are going to have some pace. We will need to deal with that. Hopefully we can spread them out, keep the ball, finish our chances and put the game away and move on to the next round.”
Coming off what the players have called a disappointing group stage performance, the U.S. is looking to rebound against Jamaica – something that has happened once before. During final round qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, the U.S. lost their sixth, seventh and eighth matches to Mexico, Honduras (at RFK Stadium) and Costa Rica before clinching a berth to South Korea with a 2-1 win against Jamaica on a pair of goals by Joe-Max Moore on Oct. 7, 2001.
The U.S. will be looking for its 10th win against Jamaica, holding a 9-0-8 series record including a pair of wins in the Gold Cup in 1993 and 2005. Donovan and Bocanegra are the only U.S. players to have a goal against Jamaica in their careers, with those coming in friendlies in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
The U.S. lineup for the 2005 Gold Cup quarters against Jamaica.
The U.S. won 3-1 with DaMarcus Beasley scoring twice and Josh Wolff once.