We didn’t learn a whole lot about the United States in its stoppage-time win over Jamaica.
It was hot, humid, and really really hot. And also hot.
Thus, it was a slow match where both teams struggled to maintain long spells of possession. The U.S. started really positive, peppering the Jamaica goal from the get go, but that died out quickly as the really hot heat kicked in.
However, there are a couple of points we learned about this squad that can be both positive and negative going forward.
1) This team fights:
This is nothing new, but something the United States has always been able to hold on to is no matter how bad (or how good) their team is, both men’s and women’s, they fight for every point. When Jamaica scored in the 89th minute to draw level, it was heartbreaking. The beIN broadcaster instantly declared “and the Reggae Boyz have snatched away 2 points.” Everyone figured it was done and dusted. Both sides would go home with a draw, something neither party would be happy with. Each team needed 3 points for their own reasons.
The team, however, thought differently. They played better in stoppage time than in the entire second half. It wasn’t until then that it seemed like the Untied States had finally came out of the locker room for the second half. It wasn’t much of a second half, but it was enough. Don’t ever count these boys out.
2) Jermaine Jones is more important to the squad than we thought
In the 57th minute, when Jermaine Jones went down following a blow to the head from Jamaica’s Daniel Gordon, it had a much bigger impact than many thought. Part of the reason the second half was so poor on the ball was the absence of Jones. We all knew he was a focal point, but only until he left did we actually see the results of his absence in front of our very eyes.
It was reported a few minutes after Jones departed that he had a concussion, not a surprising report considering how woozy he looked (it appeared he may have even been knocked unconscious for a bit). He therefore will almost certainly miss at least the next qualifier against Panama on Tuesday.
It will be a huge blow to the midfield, as Jones pretty much ran the offense much like a point guard, dishing out the start of chances to others both up the middle and down the wings. Let’s hope Jurgen Klinsmann can work out a replacement. He brought in Geoff Cameron, which looking back on it could have been worse, but was a head-scratcher at the least. While Cameron began his career as a defensive midfielder, it’s still not even close to what the squad looks like with Jones there.
3) Graham Zusi has quietly cemented himself into the squad
What a wonderful surprise Graham Zusi has been for the USMNT. Sporting KC fans are the only ones who aren’t the least bit surprised. We knew what he could do coming in, but the surprise is that it has been perfectly translatable to the higher stage. Zusi was the next level in the progression following Jones, handing out crosses and cutting passes up and down the pitch. His cross to Jozy Altidore for the first goal was sublimely placed, not where Jozy currently was, but where his head was going to be on the final touch.
Zusi’s play wasn’t just great in the match with Jamaica, but has been wonderful ever since he took Landon Donovan’s place in the squad following his sabbatical. It just has gone relatively……not unnoticed, but unheralded.
The unfortunate part is he received a yellow card in the 88th minute last night, meaning he will miss the match against Panama. With the absence of both Jones and Zusi, the best two players in the U.S. attack in Kingston will need to be replaced, and it won’t be easy for Klinsmann to do.
(More: Steve Davis talks about who will replace Zusi and Jones in the squad for Tuesday)
Have any other tidbits that we learned about the USMNT against Jamaica?