Initial take-aways from U.S. win over Jamaica in World Cup qualifying

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KANSAS CITY — The United States clinched first place Friday in CONCACAF final round qualifying out of the region with a 2-0 win over Jamaica, the final World Cup qualifier at home until the process begins anew before World Cup 2018.

Some early thoughts on Friday’s match at Sporting Park:

Credit the U.S. for digging up some urgency

I saw a couple of Twitter pals who thought the United States lacked urgency … and I don’t exactly disagree. Then again, trying to manufacture urgency is tricky business; generally speaking, it’s either there or it isn’t.

In that regard, you’d have to call a wonderful fall night at Sporting Park (another great, loud crowd there) a victory in more ways than one for Jurgen Klinsmann’s men. One of Klinsmann’s larger goals was to create a more aggressive mindset throughout the program. Part and parcel is handling teams in friendlies and in these less meaningful matches – and Jamaica is a team that the United States has regularly handled at home.

The first 60 minutes? Meh. Not much to shout about for the United States. But credit to Klinsmann for a couple of subs that worked out, and to his team for eventually sorting out the midfield and continuing to probe aggressively for channels through the Jamaican back line.

The breakthrough finally came thanks to local lad Graham Zusi (the place nearly came apart when Zusi found the far post in the 76th minute). There was a lot of good work from quite a few U.S. men in that one.

The Jamaicans were pretty much done at that point. The rest was just playing it out, seeing whether the final score would land on 2-0 or 3-0 or wherever.

It took the Americans awhile … but Klinsmann and Co. did ultimately locate that urgency he has worked so hard to create.

Did someone play their way out of roster contention?

In at least one way, this was like a U.S. friendly: the match was mostly about fine-tuning and, from the most practical standpoint, about individual assessment. As I always say with friendlies, the athletes cannot really play their way onto a World Cup team with plum performance in matches that don’t really matter – but they can sure play their way off.

You have to wonder this evening about Alejandro Bedoya.

Bedoya is solidly on the bubble and he was front and center among the brigade who needed a big night at Sporting Park. But the place turned into a mini-house of horrors for Bedoya, who did little right in the first half and was only slightly better after the break.

Klinsmann knows as well as anyone: if a guy cannot do it on a wonderful Friday night with nothing on the line, can he be trusted when it’s all on the line in soccer’s ultimate pressure cooker, a World Cup?

The U.S. back line held up

It’s a little hard to make much of this, as Jamaica’s attack lacks much structure and polish. Generally speaking, the visitors just weren’t very good. That said, Brad Evans and DaMarcus Beasley did well in handling Jamaica’s speed on the flanks.

And centrally, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron were on the job in their first time together as a central pairing. The one nit-pick on Cameron: his passing over longer distances rarely found their targets.

That’s perhaps a product of his playing right back at Stoke, and working with the different angles that come from that spot.

Wondering about Jozy Altidore

Another U.S. man who didn’t have his best night: Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore. He did score toward the end, and maybe that will help him shake the Black Cats funk.

This was always a concern, that he would go to a less-stable situation at Sunderland and watch his game fall to pieces.

There’s plenty of time for a rally. It’s just such a darn shame to see all the good work of the summer more or less evaporate. Altidore is still a good striker – he’s just not a confident striker at the moment. And that’s a problem for the men paid to score goals.

(MORE: 10 quick halftime thoughts from U.S.-Jamaica qualifier)

Rashford’s childhood hero played for USMNT (Take one guess)

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But can he grow a beard?

Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford is known for his darting runs and clever finishes, but he grew up begging to get between the sticks with a lot of love for an American.

“Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt.”

[ MORE: Dempsey still wants USMNT role ]

Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.

The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.

Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham United

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David Moyes‘ first match in charge of West Ham United sees a striker change at Vicarage Road against testy Watford (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Andy Carroll will be up top, and Andre Ayew is hurt to boot.

Marco Silva leads Watford’s hosts with Adrian Mariappa, Christian Kabasele, and Miguel Britos at the back of a 3-5-2.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Gray. Subs: Karnezis, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Pereyra, Carrillo, Okaka.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Rice, Fernandes, Quina, Sakho, Martinez.

Dempsey still happy to accept USMNT role (which is good)

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Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, and seems set to continue with the side in some capacity as he threatens to stand alone in American history.

[ MLS: Steve Bruce to Miami? ]

The 34-year-old striker spoke with Steve Zakuani on the Sounders’ web site (video below) and said he’s happy to accept continued call-ups should they arrive from USSF headquarters.

From SoundersFC.com:

“We’ll see what happens,” Dempsey said.” I mean, in terms of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the national team, I’m at peace with it. It’s not really about me. It’s about a group of guys that want to be moving forward.

“If there’s an opportunity that comes where you get to play a role and try to help and I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, then yeah, you’ll never say no. But you know, if the call never comes I’m still happy, still at peace, and focused on being here and trying to make the most of the time I have left.”

There are a number of players whose national team futures should be in question, but Dempsey is in a different class. No one has debated his motor or fuel, and his engine is still there (to complete the Springsteen-esque car comparisons, he remains one of the only things that qualifiers as chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and steppin’ out over the line).

If anything, he plays too close to the edge. That’s not something I see as one of the Yanks’ problems right now, so perhaps Dempsey needs to be viewed like Cuauhtemoc Blanco or Carlos Ruiz as a CONCACAF guy who’s around as long as he wants to be a part of it.

I mean, shoot, if Dempsey wants to keep passing the fire to Christian Pulisic and now Weston McKennie, there are far worse ambassadors for the program. He’s the most accomplished field player in recent history, and will be able to share so much when it comes to balancing club and country.

Heck, maybe he needs to be the late era Ryan Giggs of the 2018-2022 USMNT.

Beckham reportedly wants Steve Bruce in Miami

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He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?

Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.

Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).

Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.