Last night’s Gold Cup semifinals were played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta featuring the two most powerful nations in CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), Mexico and the United States. The United States faced off against Jamaica and Mexico went head-to-head against Panama later in the evening.
The USA played Jamaica at 6pm and the game was televised throughout North and Central America. What most American fans didn’t know was, Jamaica came to this match unafraid and teeming with confidence. Earlier in the summer, the Reggae Boyz competed in the 2015 Copa América and lost 1-nil to Uruguay, Paraguay and the eventual runners-up Argentina. Facing stiff competition in that tournament adequately prepared Jamaica and coach Winfried Schafer for what they would face in a hostile environment at the Georgia Dome.
The first half saw the Americans dominating play from the outset. They dominated possession, they created chances and they sliced open the Jamaican defense. The Americans also had the backing of a raucous crowd in Atlanta. Yesterday was the first time the U.S. Men’s National Team played in Atlanta in 38 years.
However, Darren Mattocks put Jamaica in the lead in the 31st minute. He scored on a throw-in with assistance from Kemar Lawrence and a goalkeeping blunder from the USA’s Brad Guzan. Five minutes later, Giles Barnes put Jamaica 2-0 up with a free kick that found the high center of the goal. It was a brilliant shot and Guzan had no chance.
In the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half, the Americans attacked feverishly. As the crowd got restless captain Michael Bradley scored on a left footed shot from the middle of the 18 yard box in the 48th minute giving the USA a lifeline. As the drama continued to build, Jamaica continued to withstand the pressure from the USA. The United States had 20 shots on goal compared to Jamaica’s 10 and had possession 60% of the time. However, it proved to be a moot point as the back four continued to be a major problem for U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.