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USA vs. Jamaica, 2021 Gold Cup quarterfinals: What to watch for

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We preview the last match of the group stage.

United States v Canada: Group B - 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team are in the knockout stage of the 2021 Gold Cup, and they begin with the quarterfinals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Standing between the Group B winners and a trip to the semifinals is Jamaica, the team that finished 2nd in Group C and has played the USMNT in the last 3 Gold Cup knockout stages. Jamaica beat the USMNT in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinal, while the USMNT won in the 2017 final and the 2019 semifinals.

Accordingly, this will be a very intense match that feels like a semifinal. The United States will hope to move onto Austin, but they’re going to have to play their best match in this tournament to get past the Reggae Boyz.

Latest Form

USA

W (1-0) - Canada - Gold Cup Group B

W (6-1) - Martinique - Gold Cup Group B

W (1-0) - Haiti - Gold Cup Group B

W (4-0) - Costa Rica - Friendly

W (3-2) - Mexico - Concacaf Nations League Final

Jamaica

L (0-1) - Costa Rica - Gold Cup Group C

W (2-1) - Guadeloupe - Gold Cup Group C

W (2-0) - Suriname - Gold Cup Group C

L (0-4) - Japan - Friendly

D (1-1) - Serbia - Friendly

What To Watch For

Neutralize the physicality. When the USMNT beat Jamaica 4-1 back in March, head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match that he challenged his team to neutralize the physicality that Jamaica usually brings. That has to happen again tomorrow. Showing Jamaica that they can also be physical and still execute will frustrate Jamaica just like it did back in March. If that happens, the USMNT will have a clear advantage.

Dominate possession. Back in March, the USMNT had 69% possession against the Reggae Boyz. It may be a lot to ask them to do those kind of numbers again, but dominating possession keeps the flow of the game headed downfield for the Americans. The onus is on the midfield to make sure that possession stays with them and to set up the attack.

Be much cleaner on defense. The defense looked quite shaky against Canada at different points during the match, especially when Walker Zimmerman had to sub off due to injury. Since he has departed the team due to that injury, the defense need to accept the challenge and clean up the mistakes they had last Sunday.

Lineup Prediction

There are a lot of ways that Gregg Berhalter can go with his lineup, but this seems to be what is most likely to occur out of the 4-3-3:

Predicted Lineup vs. Jamaica

Matt Turner is the #1 at goalkeeper for this tournament, so he’ll be the starter the rest of the way. The back line has 4 players this time, with Sam Vines at left back and Shaq Moore back at right back and Miles Robinson and James Sands forming the centerback pairing.

In the middle, Berhalter goes with the players he trusts to help neutralize the Jamaican attack and send the ball moving foward. Kellyn Acosta operates as the 6, with Sebastian Lletget playing as the 8. Cristian Roldan is in the middle in the hopes that he can spark the attack.

The front 3 are really 3 #9s. Daryl Dike and Matthew Hoppe are put out on the wings, with Gyasi Zardes in the middle. If Paul Arriola is good to go, you could see him enter as a substitute. Nicholas Gioacchini could be a late match option as well.

Prediction

This is a match that goes into extra time 1-1 and has lots of scoring chances. In extra time, a late goal by the United States sends them to the semifinals with a 2-1 win.