The USMNT faced off against the Jamaica National Football Team in a CONCACAF clash for the first time since the stars and stripes lost to the Reggae Boyz in Atlanta during the Gold Cup in 2015. Two Atlanta United players, defender Greg Garza and forward Romario Williams, took a Midnight Train to Georgia on the Chattanooga Choo-Choo to represent their respective countries in the match.
GK - Luis Robles, D - Graham Zusi (Captain), D - Steve Brinbaum, D - Walker Zimmerman, D - Jorge Villafana, M - Dax McCarty, M - Chris Pontius, M - Benny Feilhaber, M- Sebastian Lletget, F - Jordan Morris, F - Juan Augdelo
Subs: Luis Robles off - David Bingham on, 46’; Benny Feilhaber off - Michael Bradley on, 60’; Dax McCarty off - Darlington Nagbe on, 62’; Graham Zusi off - Brad Evans on 68’; Chris Pontius off - Alejandro Bedoya on, 74’; Jorge Villafana off - DaMarcus Beasley on; 86’
GK - Andre Blake, D - Sergio Campbell, D - Damion Lowe, D - Alvas Powell, D - Oniel Fisher, M - Ewan Grandison, M - Jevaughn Watson (Captain), M- Owayne Gordon, M - Michael Binns, F - Cory Burke, F - Romario Williams
Subs: Andre Blake off - Ryan Thompson on, 46’; Owayne Gordon off - Omar Holness on, 56’; Sergio Campbell off - Ladale Richie on, 61’; Ewan Grandison off - Rosario Harriot on, 78’; Romario Williams off - Jourdaine Fletcher on, 83’; Cory Burke off Shamar Nicholson on, 83’
The first half was dominated by the US, but for all of their possession and passes into the box, there were few chances. A Dax McCarty header and screaming curler that just missed the upper 90 along with a wasted 2 on 1 from Jordan Morris were the best chances the US could manage.
Sebastian Lletget was excellent in the first half for the US with most of the possession concentrated on the left side of the midfield. In the 18th minute, the LA Galaxy midfielder worked the ball down the left flank and sent a low cross that Juan Augdelo managed to get a touch on but sent the ball wide of goal.
For their part in the first half, Jamaica looked less like the Reggae Boyz and more like a sewing circle content to sit back and engage in a classic tactical battle. They had few chances but with 10 minutes left in the half, forward Cory Burke took the ball down the left flank, skinning Graham Zusi along the way, and fired a shot that Luis Robles deflected into Romario Williams in front of goal. The ball bounced off of Williams but, luckily for the US, he ended up in the open net while the ball rolled harmlessly out for a goal kick.
To start the second half, Jamaica came out looking to press and were more successful at interrupting the US possession. The US still looked the better side, but Jamaica was less content to just sit back and absorb pressure for the second 45.
Just before the hour mark, Benny Feilhaber and Jordan Morris worked a nice one-two in the penalty area before Feilhaber set up Jordan ‘Zack’ Morris who slotted his shot into the Jamaica net.
The game largely settled after the US goal with the US making several substitutions before the 80th minute. The red, white, and blue was mostly content to wind down the game and seal the win rather than push for a second score.
- Given that Jamaica had limited chances, Romario Williams played well. He was in the right place at the right time to have a chance at knocking putting Jamaica ahead 1-0.
- Graham Zusi was effective going forward as a right back but was beaten badly on a the play that nearly led to Williams goal. Luckily Walker Zimmerman recognized that he was beat and stepped to challenge the Jamaica forward to disrupt the shot.
- While Dax McCarty almost scored two goals, he gave up several turnovers at the center of the pitch, one of them leading to the chance Zusi was beaten on. He needs to do better if he is going to be an international level player.
- Though he was not often pressed into action, Georgia native Walker Zimmerman was very effective in defense for the US. He handled his defensive responsibilities well and looked poised for a young player earning his first senior team cap.