Soccer: Team USA well aware of stakes in Jamaica rematch
Soccer • Loss would endanger Americans’ chances of reaching World Cup.
Published: September 10, 2012 11:54PM
Updated: December 25, 2012 11:31PM

Columbus, Ohio • A reporter asked U.S. men’s national coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Monday what it would be like if his team were to lose to Jamaica for the second time in five days.

“No, we won’t [lose],” Klinsmann said with a smile. “Don’t worry.”

A lot of people are concerned, however, after the Americans lost 2-1 against host Jamaica in a World Cup qualifier Friday night — their first loss ever to the Reggae Boyz.

That defeat dropped the U.S. into a tie for second in Group A. Jamaica (2-0-1) leads, followed by the U.S. and Guatemala, both 1-1-1, and then Antigua and Barbuda (0-2-1) round it out. The top two teams advance to next year’s six-nation regional finals, with three of those moving on to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

With games remaining against Guatemala in Kansas City, and a road trip to Antigua, yes, there is reason to be somewhat on edge. Klinsmann, however, said his team knows what is at stake.

“Pressure is always there in professional sports,” he said. “Obviously, we wanted to get points in Jamaica, to be in a better kind of position than we are right now. We need tomorrow night, which is our goal and which we are focused on very strongly. It would put us in good position in that group.”

Forward Clint Dempsey said the loss at Jamaica’s home field, called The Office, certainly grabbed the team’s full attention.

“It’s no different if you look in years past. It was difficult getting points on the road, but we were able to come together and get important results at home to put us back in good position,” said Dempsey, who scored 35 seconds into his first competitive match in three months — the fastest goal ever in U.S. World Cup qualifying. “That’ll be no different if we can get the job done on Tuesday.”

The U.S. should have some reinforcements on hand.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard collided with Jamaica’s Luton Shelton 8 minutes into the second half and left with a lower right leg contusion. He did practice Sunday here, but Klinsmann said he would be 100 percent and ready to go for the rematch.

Defender Steve Cherundolo missed Friday’s game with a strained right calf but is expected to be available. Another defender, Clarence Goodson, is suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards but likely will be replaced by Carlos Bocanegra, the longtime captain who was held out of Friday’s game.

The U.S. roster includes Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

U.S. vs. Jamaica

P World Cup qualifier, Tuesday, 6 p.m.

TV • ESPN2