The United States chartered into Jamaica on Tuesday, well ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier.
The early arrival, a day or two ahead of the more typical schedule, was about two things. First, it allowed the entire coaching staff to personally scout last night’s match at the National Stadium, where Mexico left Jamaica’s qualifying effort on the skids.
Truly, Jurgen Klinsmann’s team could deliver the knockout punch on Friday; that would effectively leave five teams (rather than six) competing for the three automatic bids into Brazil 2014 (plus the fourth-place spot that goes into a play-in series).
The other reason, as Klinsmann explains here, is about the lesson learned in a February loss to Honduras. Then, Klinsmann believed his team suffered from not getting settled into the environment.
We really felt it was important to get the guys here early, get settled, and get used to environment. We learned back in February that when you only come in two days before to place where it is 90 degrees and really high humidity, it is simply not possible to adjust. So we will get in a few training sessions and experience what the field will be like, and we will be well prepared for Friday.”
Speaking of Tuesday’s match from the ground known colloquially as The Office, ESPN FC’s Tom Marshall says Mexico may have won, but El Tri certainly remains a work in progress. Perhaps. But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 500 times. A win on the road in World Cup qualifying is a win. Period. Ask for the stylish stuff at home, if you like, but take the three points away from home by hook, crook or crazy German-style goalkeeper own goal.
From Kingston, on the morning after, the locals report on U.S. arrival and the initial practice, held at Arnett Gardens. (Oh … the U.S. loss last week was to Belgium, not Belarus. Just a heads up in case you see that in the report.)
Temperature in Jamaica around practice time: 88 degrees, according to U.S. Soccer. Yeah, it’s hot, mon!
Before departure yesterday, Klinsmann told several outlets that the removal of Fabian Johnson (pictured) Sunday for a hamstring strain was precautionary and that the U.S. left-sided man should be OK for Friday’s visit to The Office.
And for some lovely local flavor, and some insider stuff on what these trips are about from the Fourth Estate side, check out Steven Goff’s “postcard” from Jamaica