Gold Cup Scouting Report: Jamaica

B&RU isn't done for the weekend! Here's a quick primer on what the US team will be up against this afternoon against Jamaica.

Unlike past Jamaica squads, who gained a deserved reputation for being direct, physical, and somewhat unfocused defensively, this edition plays a somewhat more cerebral game. That's not to say they play slow, possession-based soccer; they just think things through a little more and pay better attention to both sides of the ball. Credit for that has to go to head coach Theodore Whitmore, who was a player on Jamaica's one and only World Cup team in 1998.

Follow us below the break for more on their potential lineup and tactics.

We may be switching from MLS to Gold Cup play, but the format stays the same. Jamaica's likely starting eleven:



Shelton

Johnson




Richards















Phillips
Austin


Morrison?








Taylor
Thomas
Reid?
Vernan









Ricketts

There is only one issue at play here, and that's whether defensive midfielder Jason Morrison will continue in the center back role he held in Jamaica's final group game against Honduras. Despite having never played center back, Morrison did well enough that there's at least a chance he'll be picked over Adrian Reid. Jamaica wouldn't find themselves in such a quandary if not for the fairly serious knee injury suffered by Dicoy Williams of Toronto FC, or if they hadn't released Colorado's Tyrone Marshall from their squad (probably shouldn't have called him up in the first place, but that's a different problem).

If Morrison plays center back, look for the imposing Damion Williams to step in at defensive midfield. DC United fans with a long memory will recall seeing Williams play a key role for Harbour View in the 2005 CONCACAF Champions Cup. Williams, like many players in this Reggae Boyz squad, now plays in Norway.

Unlike past Jamaica squads, who gained a deserved reputation for being direct, physical, and somewhat unfocused defensively, this edition plays a somewhat more cerebral game. That's not to say they play slow, possession-based soccer; they just think things through a little more and pay better attention to both sides of the ball. Credit for that has to go to head coach Theodore Whitmore, who was a player on Jamaica's one and only World Cup team in 1998.

Jamaica's strongest point is their front line. Dane Richards and Ryan Johnson tend to stay wide to stretch things out, giving room for Luton Shelton and Demar Phillips to operate. Shelton will occasionally switch places with Johnson, but in general Jamaica is better off when Johnson plays the wide role he seems more comfortable in. To slow the Jamaicans down, the outside backs for the United States will have to be up for the unique challenges both wide men offer (Johnson has plenty of brute strength and aggression, while Richards has tremendous speed). It will also be important for the American midfield to not allow balls over the top for either player to run onto. If Jamaica is forced to play slow, they will be less comfortable.

In the back, Jamaica has impressed, not yet conceding a goal. That said, they're not unbeatable. Jermaine Taylor is not a natural left back, so his relative discomfort at that position could be a big asset for Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan on one side. Down the middle, Shavar Thomas has played well but we're talking about the same guy that can't get a game for Sporting Kansas City. No matter who partners him, it's going to be Jamaica's last option for the job, so Jozy Altidore should be able to find room to trouble Donovan Ricketts, who will likely prove hard to beat.

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