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Jamaica Shocks U.S. and Advances to Gold Cup Final

Jamaica Shocks U.S. and Advances to Gold Cup Final

Posted by PanamericanWorld on July 23, 2015

For the first time since 2003, the United States will miss the final of the Gold Cup, the biennial championship soccer tournament of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The United States, winner of three of the last five editions of the tournament, which is held every two years, fell to Jamaica, 2-1, in a stunning semifinal game Wednesday night in Atlanta.

It was a dismal result for the United States, which saw its record against Jamaica drop to 13-2-8. Jamaica, the 76th-ranked team in the world, will play Mexico in the Gold Cup final after the Mexicans’ controversial 2-1 victory over Panama in extra time at the Georgia Dome.

Jamaica first staggered the United States in the 31st minute, when Kemar Lawrence flung a throw-in from deep along the left sideline that arced all the way to the penalty spot, where Darren Mattocks popped up and let the ball glance off the top of his head. The ball looped over the hand of goalkeeper Brad Guzan, hit the inside of the far post, dribbled all the way back along the goal line, knocked off the opposite bar and into the net — a tantalizing sequence that sent the Jamaicans into celebration.

Less than four minutes later, Guzan gave the Jamaicans a free kick when he carried the ball outside the penalty box while attempting a throw, setting up Jamaica’s next, punishing blow. As Giles Barnes whipped his free kick toward goal, none of the five players in the United States’ wall jumped, and the ball whizzed over their heads before darting in just under the crossbar.

The United States had not given up two first-half goals in its previous 32 games, dating to Sept. 6, 2013. It had not lost a game on home soil to a Caribbean team since 1969.

The Americans looked energized in the second half and cut the lead in the 48th minute, when Michael Bradley swooped into the box to knock in a loose rebound after Ryan Thompson, the Jamaican goalkeeper, had made a pair of untidy saves in quick succession. Bradley waved his arm around aggressively to rile up his teammates, and nine minutes later, he nearly tied the score with a knuckling shot that deflected off the left post after hitting Thompson’s shoulder.

The United States kept scrambling, trying to test Thompson, who never looked particularly assured in front of the net. The Americans outshot Jamaica, 20-8, and had 58 percent of the possession time.

With the loss, the United States missed the chance to secure an automatic trip to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. Instead, it will face the Gold Cup winner in a playoff later this year to determine the berth.

But for the moment, United States Coach Jurgen Klinsmann will face plenty of questions and second-guessing about his personnel decisions in the tournament, as well as the often-lackluster play that his team exhibited even as it advanced to the semifinal.

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