The United States Women’s National Team opened the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship with a 3-0 against Haiti. Next on the schedule is a match against Jamaica at the Estadio BBVA in Guadalupe. Three points could clinch a spot in the semifinal round and qualification for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The two nations have faced off four times, with the USWNT holding a 4-0-0 historical advantage, most recently winning last summer’s friendly by a 4-0 margin. Jamaica reached the competition by finishing atop Group C in qualifying with a 4-0-0 record, rolling past Bermuda, Grenada, the Cayman Islands, and the Dominican Republic, surrendering a mere two goals. Their tournament run opened with a crucial 1-0 win over Mexico.
Lorne Donaldson was appointed to the manager role last month following the departure of interim Vin Blaine, who reported “irreconcilable dressing room differences after the majority of the squad signed a letter to the Jamaica Football Federation” requesting his removal. The former player was previously on the staff but resigned in January 2020 due to what was described as “a lack of integrity and professionalism” in the organization. Citing “familiarity with the football culture and knowledge of the players,” he is expected to receive “all necessary support” in order to “hit the ground running,” quite literally by “working on fitness” in absence of pre-tournament friendlies.
“It’s a good score for us, obviously we got three points,” Donaldson said after defeating Mexico. “It’s a long way to go. We have two more games to go, and we can’t sit around and wait. We can enjoy this game tonight and then we have a few more tough games coming up. We have to try to get some more points out of the next two games.”
Donaldson named a 23-player roster for the competition, with several call-ups who could be considered highly-experienced at the international level. All of the represented clubs and universities are based abroad. Veterans such as Konya Plummer, Dominique Bond-Flasza, and Marlo Sweatman were left off the squad, while Tiffany Cameron was held out with “a minor muscle strain.” Sashana Campbell was included in the Jamaica Football Federation release but not the CONCACAF list.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Rebecca Spencer (Tottenham), Sydney Schneider (Kansas City Current), Yazmeen Jamieson (Simcoe County Rovers)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Kalyssa Van Zanten (University of Notre Dame), Drew Spence (Tottenham), Havana Solaun (North Carolina Courage), Khadija Shaw (Manchester City), Atlanta Primus (London City Lionesses), Trudi Carter (FC Gintra), Deneisha Blackwood (Unattached), Paige Bailey-Gayle (Unattached), Jade Bailey (Liverpool), Chinyelu Asher (AIK)
FORWARDS (6): Tiernny Wiltshire (Unattached), Vyan Sampson (Charlton Athletic), Kayla McCoy (Rangers), Mireya Grey (Unattached), Jody Brown (Florida State University), Olufolasade Adamolekun (University of Southern California)
In the first match of the tournament, Donaldson deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation. Against inferior competition, Jamaica plays a direct shock-and-awe style with frequent long balls into the box. During qualifiers, there was a significant gap between the back line and the midfielders which was exploited on the counter-attack. Conventional wisdom is to play a bunker-and-counter against the USWNT. When in possession against Mexico, at least three players were always behind the ball.
Rebecca Spencer, a former England youth international, joined the program last year and started three out of four qualifiers, which helped her to “enjoy football again.” Despite being a touch undersized, she brings “outstanding shot-stopping and an ability to competently play out of the back.” Donaldson could also turn to Sydney Schneider, the New Jersey native who starred at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The first-choice center back pairing is a duo of former American youth internationals who also happen to be sisters. The elder, Allyson Swaby, competes for Angel City FC in the National Women’s Soccer League after several successful seasons with Roma. According to Chiesa Di Totti, she “leans toward direct football, can man-mark with the best of them, and launches passes straight through the pitch whenever [given] the opportunity to do so.” Her equally technically-skilled sibling, Chantelle of Rangers, is just shy of 6’ and can slot into the defensive-midfielder role. The 23-year-old embraces contact during the build-up, often opening up space by shouldering defenders off the ball.
Nneka Moneme nets the golden goal to lift #RFutbol to victory and claim three B1G points! Chantelle Swaby assisted the game winner to push RU to 11-2-2 overall and 5-2-1 in league play! Rutgers 1, Purdue 0 pic.twitter.com/mMKVI0IO0k— RUTGERS WOMEN’S SOCCER (@RUWSoccer) October 18, 2019
Versatile and pacey winger Tiernny Wiltshire, recently on the books at KuPS in Finland, could line up at fullback. The New Jersey native moves tirelessly up and down the field, whether tracking down an opponent or streaking into the final third with menacing intent. Gabrielle Gayle – who can also play center back – is rostered at the University of South Alabama, earning First-Team All-Sun Belt honors last fall. The 21-year-old has elite closing speed, often reaching the ball before a tackle becomes necessary. Deneisha Blackwood of the Houston Dash might start again but is working back to full fitness after undergoing knee surgery last August.
AIK midfielder Chinyelu Asher started all four matches during qualifying. She can expertly work her way out of pressure and looks to play the ball up the field. Described by the Jamaica Observer as “a nuisance,” Trudi Carter has revived her career with FC Gintra in Lithuania. The creative 27-year-old puts in work on defense and knows how to read passing lanes. Illinois-born Kayla McCoy is a looming threat in the final third and cannot be stopped after building up a full head of steam. The rotation could also feature Leicester City’s Paige Bailey-Gayle, who keeps possession moving and looks for the most proactive action at all times, or the vertically-inclined veteran Havana Solaun of the North Carolina Courage, a starter against Mexico.
With Sweatman and Cameron off the roster, the two starting wingers will likely be players from the American collegiate ranks. Olufolasade “Sade” Adamolekun competes with the University of Southern California and made one start at the 2019 World Cup. She likes to cut into the center of the field and provides a healthy mix of size and speed. Diminutive forward Jody Brown is a member of Florida State’s 2021 national championship squad, contributing four goals and ten assists. The pacey 20-year-old darts around opponents and latches onto long passes, meshing well with a target striker. Atlanta Primus, an English-born attacker with a dominant presence in the final third, could also feature in the lineup.
Jamaica’s attack begins and ends with the prolific Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, who has scored 52 goals in 37 career international appearances. The six-foot-tall Manchester City striker models herself after Robert Lewandowski and plays a physical game but is also capable of lining up on the wing. Calm and composed in the box, she likes to receive the ball at her feet and makes methodical runs between the center backs, often carving out a single yard of space to place a shot into the bottom corner.
This is a Jamaica squad that is going through a bit of transition but put in an eye-opening performance against Mexico, utilizing intelligent tactics and avoiding overextension. The Reggae Girlz are stronger than advertised, capable of scoring before locking into a structured and difficult-to-penetrate bunker. If the back line can shut down Shaw, the USWNT should clinch a convincing victory.
The match is scheduled for Thursday, July 7th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 pm Pacific. Viewing options include Paramount+, ViX, and FUBO TV (free trial).