Preview: U.S. vs. Jamaica

2 Comments

• The United States has already qualified for the 2014 World Cup, regardless of the results in its final two matches against Jamaica and at Honduras. Meanwhile, Jamaica is in last place in the final group, with just four points out of eight matches.

• Jamaica gave Colorado Rapids forward Deshorn Brown his first international call-up for the match. The U.S. will be without forwards Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson. Dempsey is recovering from an injury, and Johnson left camp early with a fresh groin strain.

The United States hosts Jamaica on Friday (6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) with World Cup qualification already secured. Now, head coach Jürgen Klinsmann and his staff can begin fine-tuning their roster and deciding who they will take to Brazil next summer.

Jamaica hardly has any chance to earn fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal and face New Zealand in a two-legged playoff for a spot in the tournament. The Reggae Boyz, in sixth right now, need two wins against the U.S. and Honduras and Mexico and Panama to lose their final match after tying each other on Friday.

That doesn’t mean Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., will be a relaxed atmosphere. Jamaica proved to be a difficult opponent in both of the last two rounds of qualifying, with the U.S. needing a last-gasp winner from Brad Evans to secure all three points back in June. Each of the last three games between the teams have been decided by one goal.

With an injury-depleted squad, Klinsmann’s lineup on Friday will likely be different than what fans are used to seeing. In his press conference on Thursday, the coach hinted that Geoff Cameron could start at center back in place of the injured Omar González, and he said Eddie Johnson was due to start at forward until he picked up an injury.

That could open the door for Aron Jóhannsson to get his first start for the U.S. since filing for his one-time switch from Iceland. He has been on a tear for AZ Alkmaar, scoring four goals in his last four appearances and seven overall to start the season. For Jamaica, Deshorn Brown could get his first start during his Rookie of the Year-candidate season in Major League Soccer.

Predicted U.S. lineup (4-4-2): Tim Howard — DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans — Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi — Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore

What they’re saying

U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann on putting together a roster with qualification in the bag: “The thought process was the same as all the previous qualifiers. We want to win these games. … These games already count toward the World Cup in 2014 in terms of the internal competition and the mentality we are trying to build.”

Jamaica assistant coach Vin Blaine on his team’s chances to advance: “We are aware that we are in a difficult situation, and we have to depend on other results to stand a chance to advance, but when we take the field on Friday, we will only be focused on what we have to do. … I really don’t think the USA are going to come and play us hard knowing that they already qualified for the World Cup. I don’t think they will come and play with the same intensity as if they were trying to qualify.”

U.S. left back DaMarcus Beasley on the team’s mentality: “Right now, there are spots for Brazil, and everyone knows that. There’s 23 spots that go on the plane next summer. You want to be one of them that’s on the plane.”

Prediction

Jamaica really needs a win, but its quality has sorely lacked for much of the Hexagonal round. The U.S. has enough quality that it should expect to take all three points, regardless of whether they are needed or not. Anything less than a U.S. win, especially in a raucous atmosphere in Kansas City, would be shocking and worrisome.

Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt

Twitter/@slbenfica_en
Leave a comment

LISBON, Portugal (AP) Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica’s 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.

Jonas equalized in the 72nd minute and gave the defending champion the lead in the 88th.

[ MORE: Man United-Chelsea meet in giant Sunday PL clash ]

Rafa Silva added a third goal after the host was reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Gian dos Santos was shown a direct red card.

Luiz Phellype gave Pacos Ferreira the lead in the ninth.

The double increased Jonas’ league-leading tally to 27 goals.

Benfica moved to within two points of Porto before the pacesetter visits Portimonense on Sunday.

Sporting Lisbon is third at five points behind Porto. It hosts Moreirense on Monday.

Orlando City trades defender Jose Aja to Whitecaps for allocation money

Twitter/@OrlandoCitySC
Leave a comment

The Vancouver Whitecaps have struck a deal with an Eastern Conference side to help solidify their back line.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson leads Werder Bremen to win ]

On Saturday, the Cascadia club finalized a deal to acquire Orlando City defender Jose Aja in exchange for $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for 2019.

Additionally, Orlando could receive another $100,000 in TAM if Aja remains on the Whitecaps roster next season and a 2021 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick if Aja is in Canada for the 2020 campaign.

Aja has made 25 appearances for Orlando since coming to MLS in 2016 from his native Uruguay.

The timing of the deal is intriguing, given Tim Parker’s willingness to exit the Whitecaps ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

PST reported on Thursday that Parker is seeking a move back to the East Coast, and the New York-native is being tracked by several Eastern Conference sides, including the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and the Montreal Impact.

Parker is considered one of the top American defenders in MLS, and is actively seeking a massive pay raise ahead of the new season, after making just under $100,000 in 2017.

PL Sunday preview: Red Devils battle Chelsea at Old Trafford

PA via AP
Leave a comment

It will surely be one of the biggest fixtures of the season when Manchester United and Chelsea get together on Sunday, and for both clubs a victory could be vital in projecting their form for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting at Selhurst Park pits teams on opposite ends of the table against one another. Crystal Palace enters the weekend levels on points with 18th-place Swansea, while Tottenham could leap Chelsea for fourth if results go in favor of Spurs.

[ MORE: Liverpool continues to score at lightning pace against West Ham ]

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The injury bug has hit Palace hard as of late, with a total of 12 senior team players being left out of Roy Hodgson‘s squad. The list includes Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho, which won’t make things easy against a talented Spurs side.

Tottenham have had a ton of success in this fixture recently, winning the last five encounters and only allowing one goal in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have hit the ground running in the second half of the season thus far, picking up a league-high 15 points in the Premier League since the start of 2018.

If there is a saving grace for the Eagles though, it is that Palace has been solid at home this season, and gone unbeaten in nine of its last 10 fixtures at Selhurst.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN

After a pair of draws from the PL sides kicked off their Champions League Round of 16 campaigns midweek, United and Chelsea can now focus their attention back to England; at least for the time being.

Jose Mourinho’s team came away from Seville with a crucial scoreless draw after the hosts tested goalkeeper David De Gea on numerous occasions, while Chelsea were close to pulling out a victory against Barcelona had it not been for a big-time mistake from Andreas Christensen late in the match.

Nonetheless, this is a fixture that always garners significant attention, especially from the Blues, who tend to have a better go of it. United has won just once against Chelsea in their last 14 fixtures, with the lone victory coming last season.

That said, Antonio Conte and his side have failed to exemplify consistency this year, and that includes road matches. The Blues have just two road wins in their last nine attempts across all competitions, which bodes well for the Red Devils.

The good news for Chelsea is the recent form of attacking duo Willian and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian was constantly in dangerous positions up the pitch against the Blaugrana in their recent UCL encounter, nabbing the lone goal for the Blues, while Hazard has scored six times in his last six PL matches.

The 2 Robbies: Unstoppable Liverpool, Man United-Chelsea and more

Twitter/@AbsoluteChelsea
Leave a comment

In today’s episode, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe discuss Liverpool’s emphatic win over West Ham (0:17), breakdown an extremely complicated relegation situation where nearly half of the league is in jeopardy of going down (10:05), before closing the show with a preview of tomorrow’s Man United v. Chelsea match (28:10).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies