And with that, the United States are knocked out of contention for the 2015 Gold Cup. After their stunning 2-1 defeat to Jamaica, the U.S. will have to settle for a spot in the consolation match in Philadelphia. Was it just bad luck? Or was is something a lot more complicated?
Two set pieces in the middle of the first half and some stout defending was enough for Jamaica to pull off the upset. To say the USMNT was poor would be harsh. They played very well in the first 30 minutes of the match before the Jamaicans scored against the run of play.
It's an undeniable disaster to not reach the Gold Cup final, but it's in no way the end of the world. Major changes to the roster must be made in the future, but we're here to evaluate the present. Who is at fault for the loss? Who helped their standing despite the poor result? Here's what we think:
Fabian Johnson: The one consistent performer throughout the tournament, Johnson was constantly overlapping and cutting inside any chance he got. He was arguably the U.S. most effective attacking player from his left back position.
Michael Bradley: The captain had a poor first half, there's no way around it. When the second half began he came out of the tunnel like a bat out of hell. He willed the ball into the net for his team to get the comeback attempt under way. He ran all over the field the entire second 45 minutes trying to get the equalizer. Unfortunately, his heroic efforts came up just short.
Aron Johannsson: Once again when the competition gets tough, Johannsson fails to provide any type of dynamic influence on the game. His hold up play was lacking and he just wasn't able to impact the attack the way he had against lowly Cuba. It may be harsh to label him already, but his international career looks strangely reminiscent of Chris Wondolowski's. With young stars Rubio Rubin and Jordan Morris waiting for their chances, not to mention Jozy Altidore, the AZ Alkmaar man hurt his USMNT standing with this performance.
Gyasi Zardes: We all know Zardes is a great athlete, this is unquestionable. What we don't know is, how good of a soccer player he is. He's shown glimpses of being able to produce at the international level. However, his poor technical ability and overall understanding of the game is what lets him down when it really counts. Zardes will surely still get chances, but we should in no way be labeling him a future star yet.
Kyle Beckerman: The 33-year-old defensive midfielder looked every bit that age and maybe a little older during this Gold Cup. Beckerman was adequate defensively, but he's clearly lost a half step of mobility. His technical ability and passing have always been his biggest detriment. Now with him slowing down it's hard to see much of an international future for him. The USMNT desperately need to find a replacement for him as soon as possible.
Brooks and Alvarado: The supposed center back pairing of the future was once again thrown into the spotlight by Klinsmann. Both players struggled at different moments in the match. Jamaica's first goal was a product of Darren Mattocks out-jumping four different defenders, including both center backs, to loop in a header. It was a truly embarrassing goal to concede. One has to question if having the more experienced options of Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream in the lineup would've changed things. Both players are young and will receive more chances, but they didn't take advantage of this big opportunity handed to them.
Brad Guzan: On the day Tim Howard announced that he's ready to return to international duty, the man who replaced him as the USMNT No. 1 goalkeeper made a huge mental mistake that proved to be the difference in a loss. Guzan's error of handling the ball outside of the penalty area that led to Giles Barnes game-winning free kick goal. Otherwise, Guzan was satisfactory on the night, but huge errors like this absolutely cannot happen in a match of this magnitude. The battle for the U.S. starting job will be very interesting going into the Fall.