Americans dominate Jamaica and earn Gold Cup rematch with Panama in semifinals.
By Robert Wagman
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sunday, June 19, 2011) -- The United States men moved on to the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals with a dominating 2-0 victory over Jamaica in a sellout of 45,423 at RFK Stadium.
The U.S. will face Panama in the Wednesday night semis in Houston. Panama defeated the Americans 2-1 en route to winning Group C. The 7 p.m. (ET) match will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel and Spanish-language Univision.
From the opening whistle, the U.S. pushed forward with an offensive-minded formation. Left-side defender Eric Lichaj was pushed far forward into the midfield for most of the match and the Americans made due with three in the back.
Lichaj pushing so far forward paid another dividend. In the opening moments, Jamaica winger Dane Richards was a big problem. But as Lichaj pushed forward, Richards had to drop back to cover him and a major weapon was taken away from the Reggae Boyz.
Dovovan Ricketts, in net for Jamaica, kept his side in the match with nine saves. For a long time, it looked like the Americans would present another example of wasted opportunities, but then a goal from midfielder Jermaine Jones in the 49th minute opened up the match. Then, inserting active midfielder Landon Donovan's fresh legs into the match in the 65th minute was more than the tiring Jamaican defense could handle and the second goal soon followed.
"I thought we played a good game today," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "I though we did an excellent job of establishing our game."
The unexpected change in today's lineup was Donovan beginning the game on the bench. He only arrived in Washington from his sister's wedding in California this morning.
"It was a busy stretch for Landon," Bradley said. "It was an afternoon game in some heat and we thought he could do well as a substitute."
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 6: Only needed to make a pair of saves, both sterling, in a solid effort, while he organized his three back defense well.
Defender Eric Lichaj - 5.5: Played most of the match deep into the offensive midfield as a winger, dropping back on defense as needed. He did very well in this role, not giving up much on defense while adding a lot to the attack.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra - 6: With Lichaj pushed forward, he was essentially in charge of the whole left side of defense. Made almost no missteps in a strong performance.
Defender Clarence Goodson - 6: Used his size to good advantage, both in winning head balls and using his long legs to clear balls out of danger. Played his position very well.
Defender Steve Cherundolo - 6: Another veteran performance. With Lichaj pushed forward, he had to stay home in the three-back set and ranged into the middle as needed.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones - 7.5: He was simply everywhere. Made key defensive stops and moved deep into the attack at key moments. Earned a well-deserved goal. At times, he is too physical and too easily draws yellow cards.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan - 5: While he made only a few noticeable mistakes, he seemed a step off most of the day. Many of his passes were a slightly off the mark and his first touch let him down often.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey - 6: He finally got the goal that eluded him in the last match, this time by taking an extra step around the goalkeeper. He played as a central attacker for much of the match and was a constant problem for the Jamaican defense.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 5.5: At times, he was very good, but at other times less so. He kept up a high work rate all day and was able to take advantage of space allowed him, especially in the first half. He might have done a bit better with his chances.
Forward Alejandro Bedoya - 6: Playing as a right wing maintained a hgh work rate and put in a very physical 65 minutes. Caused Jamaica no end of problems in a very good appearance.
Forward Jozy Altidore - no rating: Hurt his hamstring before he could settle into the match.
Forward Juan Agudelo (12th minute for Altidore) - 5.5. If there is a criticism of his play, at times he simply tries to do too much. When he keeps things simple, as he did leading up to the second goal, he can be a very dangerous player.
Midfielder Landon Donovan (66th minute for Bedoya) - 6.5: Kept in reserve because he did not arrive in Washington from his sister's wedding until this morning, was simply too much for the tiring Jamaicans and ran wild. He was all but unstoppable and a key to the second goal.
Midfielder Maurice Edu (75th minute for Jones) - 5: He did not have much to do with the U.S. playing a man up against a tiring Jamaican midfield. Made the one or two needed stops.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Jermaine Jones.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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