This game wasn't about Landon Donovan sitting out the first 65 minutes due to arriving in D.C. at 7:30 AM this morning. And it wasn't about Jozy Altidore exiting in the 12th minute due to a hamstring injury. It was about their replacements, and how Bob Bradley adjusted his formation and tactics, both to make up for Donovan's absence, and to counteract Jamaica's strengths.
The United States used five midfielders in its starting lineup today, and two - Sacha Kljestan and Alejandro Bedoya - were getting their first starts of the Gold Cup. But it was the central holding midfielders - Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley - that really stood out. Jones had the game-winning goal early in the second half, and Coach Bradley specifically mentioned their partnership in his press conference after the game.
We've seen in recent games that the understanding in the center of the field between Jermaine and Michael has been good. At certain moments you see one of them going forward and the other one staying back.
Juan Agudelo coming in cold for Altidore was just as critical though. I also spoke with Kljestan after the game about what adjustments the team had to make with one JA replacing another, and he said that it was basically a one-for-one replacement. Bradley also mentioned Agudelo's confidence.
Well the confidence for this team must be high now.
Bradley and Donovan both said after the game that this was the best game that they'd played all tournament.
I thought we played a good game today. I thought from the start we were able to do a good job of passing the ball, keeping the ball moving. At our game today, I thought we did an excellent job
It was nice to see the U.S. having its way with an opponent. Well at least in the second half. They had so many chances that I actually believe that Bradley may have told the forwards to take their foot off the pedal towards the end. And after so many opportunities, Clint Dempsey definitely deserved his goal. Meanwhile, I'm reasonably sure that Jamaica didn't get a shot on target in the second half.
It should also be said though that Jamaica played quite easily their worst game of the tournament. Passes were missed and half-chances were wasted far too often. It was as if the moment - playing in front of a sold out crowd of 46,000 biased fans - was too large for them.
Bradley said "I think [the players] would be excited to about the opportunity to have a rematch" against Panama. Well they're going to get that opportunity on Wednesday in Houston.