US men’s national soccer team faces worthy foe in Jamaicans
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Beating Italy was a breakthrough moment. Winning at Mexico ended nearly a century of frustration.
And now the US men’s national team will look for another first — one that, on some level, might be more significant than either of those memorable victories from this year.
The Americans play a 2014 World Cup qualifying match at Jamaica Friday night, with a chance to take complete control of the Group A standings. It’s the start of a home-and-home series with the Jamaicans, the second leg on Sept. 11 at Columbus.
But the start of the series at National Stadium in Kingston, at least from the US perspective, is vital.
‘‘You want to have a positive result because you carry that through to the next game,’’ US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. ‘‘Nobody should even think for a second about the home game. Everybody has to focus only on the game in Kingston and once that game is over we can focus on the home game. It’s tricky, but it’s tricky for both sides.’’
The US and Jamaica are both 1-0-1 for four points in Group A qualifying so far, the Americans sitting atop the standings because of a better goal differential. A win is worth three points in the group, meaning if there’s a US-Jamaica victor, that team would be assured of outright possession of first place at the midway point of this qualifying round.
No American team has ever lost to Jamaica, with 10 wins and eight ties in 18 previous meetings. Of those, four have been World Cup qualifiers in Jamaica, all of which have ended as draws.
‘‘It’s going to be difficult,’’ US forward Clint Dempsey said. ‘‘The fans are going to be really up for the game, therefore the players are going to be really up for the game. You have to make sure we go out and take care of business. I'm looking forward to these games and trying to qualify for the World Cup because that’s the goal. Everybody wants to do something special in their lifetime. World Cup is certainly that.’’
The Americans will be without national team regulars Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley for the game, both of whom have injuries that kept Klinsmann from summoning them to camp.
The US won at Italy in February on a goal from Dempsey, and is coming off a win last month at Mexico — where the Americans had been 0-23-1 over a 75-year span.