Heading into the Quarterfinal matchup between the USMNT and Jamaica, the Stars and Stripes had put forward two unconvincing performances against Haiti and Canada on the way to winning their group. It seemed like Jamaica would be the toughest test for the USA so far in the 2021 edition of the Gold Cup.
The Americans would lineup in a 4-3-3 with Matthew Hoppe and Paul Arriola playing on the wing as any attacking spark from the wide areas had been badly lacking in the tournament so far. Jackson Yueill started the game on the bench.
Jamaica lined up in a 4-3-3 of their own featuring players scattered about MLS, the Championship, USL, Jamaica domestic league, and other sundry locales with a Bundesliger and Premier Leaguer thrown in for good measure.
My preconceived notion about the game was that it might be tricky for the US Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they had a trick up their sleeve.
either Jamaica bunkers and counters and the US isn’t able to break it because of not enough creative players or Jamaica presses and the US can’t break it because of not enough creative players and Blake stands on his head but maybe an accidental Gyasi goal saves the US— Parker Cleveland Guardians (@AekprrAcdeellnv) July 25, 2021
In the end, I was kinda right but it didn’t matter because the US scored a late goal in what was overall a game the Americans struggled to take hold of but would win anyway. While the US had a tough time playing cohesive soccer, give Jamaica credit. The Reggae Boyz well well organized and pressed the Stars and Stripes effectively.
So, how’d it go in gif and word form?
The game took place in the most pure and perfect setting for a soccer game: an NFL stadium with dome and temporary grass pitch laid over a artificial surface. It was pure magic.
Jamaica almost scored 14 seconds in after a bad exchange with the USA backline following the kickoff. Through about 20 minutes the teams played fast and frenetic soccer. The game was exciting and open though neither side could do much in the final third.
This did happen, this was nice.
Aside from that, it wasn’t a great half for either team. The US tried to pass though the midfield, the Reggae Boyz would press, the US would cycle back to the defenders, try to work down the wings, Jamaica would press, the US would cycle back to the defenders and then just go over the top. Luckily, the backline and Kellyn Acosta had a solid first 45 and didn’t let Jamaica do much on the counter and the match went into the locker rooms at nil-nil.
The second half started with Hoppe again forcing Blake into a huge save and Matt Turner making a big play of his own. As far as adjustments... the American’s didn’t change much or improve over their showing in the first 45.
Miles Robinson might have saved the whole game for the USA by himself when he stuffed Junior Flemmings on a breakaway and stooped what would have been a tough one v. one for Turner just before the 60th minute.
At the hour mark Arriola and Dike made way for Cristian Roldan and Gyasi Zardes. Their introduction did open the game up and Zardes began getting more involved in the buildup while Roldan provided a lot of energy with his running. It still wasn’t that great, but it did yield results when Hoppe headed home a goal in the 83rd minute.
That would be it. The USA would see the game out and stamp their ticket to playing against Qatar in the semis. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win which is preferable to not winning.