Confident U.S. Men brace for wild CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in Jamaica
By Charles Boehm
KINGSTON, JAMAICA – The U.S. Men’s National Team enter tonight’s CONCACAF Group A World Cup qualifier against Jamaica (National Stadium, 8 p.m. ET, broadcast live on beIN SPORT network) riding a high the likes of which they haven’t experienced since the heady days of the 2010 World Cup group stage, and they’ll probably need every bit of spirit and quality they can muster against the physical, motivated Reggae Boyz.
The US have never lost to Jamaica in 18 competitive matches, but have also never won in Kingston, with only a series of road draws in World Cup qualifying to their credit. That history has given both sides ample motivation, and the combination of bullish expectations on both sides and the line of tropical rainstorms which have descended on the island nation’s capital suggest that a memorable night is in store on a wet, uneven playing field.
“We understand that the history is that the US never won a World Cup qualifier in Jamaica and that’s what we would like to do. We’re coming here to give them a real game,” said USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Thursday. “ We also understand that Jamaica is very eager to win the game as well, it’s a special year for Jamaica with the 50th anniversary of their independence and all the celebrations that go around this. We have the highest respect for Theodore Whitmore’s team, but we have a goal here and we have a real clear idea of how we’re going to approach things.”
Meanwhile, the Reggae Boyz boast one of their fastest, most talented-ever rosters, with nine MLS standouts and several European-based players on the current squad. Their nation is still euphoric in the wake of the track team’s outstanding showing at the London Olympics this summer, feeding pride and optimism that could make the 50-year-old National Stadium a cauldron tonight.
The result could also be crucial to Jamaica’s hopes of qualifying for the final round of 2014 qualifying, a feat the USMNT expects to attain easily and which goes to the top two finishers in this four-team group, which also features Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.
“Everybody is upbeat, everybody is anxious for tomorrow night, to express themselves in front of our home fans. So we can’t wait,” said Reggae Boyz and Vancouver Whitecaps winger Dane Richards on Thursday night. “For us to advance, I think history got to change on our 50th anniversary. So we’ve just got to do it. Because we did it in London, so hopefully we can do it now, keeping that momentum.
“We’re going to create history tomorrow.”
Editor’s note: read more of our own Charles Boehm’s coverage of this crucial match below, and follow him on twitter for real-time updates: