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Meek USMNT falls to Jamaica in final Gold Cup warm-up

The first national team game at Audi Field was not one to remember

Soccer: International Friendly Soccer-Jamaica at USA Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A toothless United States men’s national team fell 1-0 to Jamaica in their first-ever game at Audi Field. Shamar Nicholson’s swerving long-range rocket on the hour mark was the game’s only goal, and the Reggae Boyz held the USMNT without a shot on goal until the 88th minute.

A tepid opening saw several U.S. crosses miss their targets, and Jamaica stumbled into the game’s first chance. An errant pass from Zack Steffen went directly to Maalique Foster near the top of the American penalty area. Still, the USMNT recovered just in time to prevent a quick shot, and despite several attempts to cut the ball back, nothing got through from the Reggae Boyz.

The Americans continued to patiently knock the ball around, but their attacks rarely even got into the final third, much less create danger. At the other end, a 38th minute cross from Kemar Lawrence found right back Alvas Powell making an adventurous run that no one in red picked up. Powell beat Tim Ream to the ball in a great spot, but arrived just a bit too soon, nodding well over the crossbar.

The first shot of any note from the U.S. finally arrived in the 43rd minute. A passing sequence saw Paul Arriola send Cristian Roldan down the right as Jamaica remained stagnant, giving the Seattle Sounders midfielder plenty of time to cross. He picked out Antonee Robinson at the back post, but the Everton man’s header floated harmlessly high.

Jamaica showed some vigor to start the second half, forcing Wil Trapp into a 53rd minute turnover. Kevon Lambert had the option of passing off to Dever Orgill, but opted to go for goal himself, with Steffen blocking the ball off his chest after it took a bounce just ahead of him. Three minutes later, LAFC midfielder Peter-Lee Vassell curled a 24-yard effort wide after the U.S., still looking reactive and sluggish, was slow to close him down in a pocket of space.

The USMNT wasn’t heeding the warning signs, and seconds after Gregg Berhalter made a double substitution (bringing Jonathan Amon and Nick Lima in for Jackson Yueill and Tim Ream), Jamaica took the lead on the hour mark. Seconds after recovering from another Trapp turnover, Cristian Roldan got the ball back only to give it away again, and this time Jamaican forward Shamar Nicholson made it count, curling a spectacular long-range shot over Steffen and in.

The aforementioned double sub came with a move to a 4231 formation, and after regaining their bearing following the goal, the USMNT started to show a bit more bite. First, Arriola set Djordje Mihailovic up for a chance inside the box, only for the Chicago Fire midfielder to have his shot blocked. Moments later, substitute Duane Holmes got on the ball on the endline and cut it back for Josh Sargent, but the young striker’s lunging shot from inside the six yard box skewed wide.

However, after that brief spell of American pressure, the game reverted to form, with Jamaica calmly keeping their defensive shape, frustrating the USMNT’s attempts to create anything, and forcing turnovers often enough that they weren’t ever forced to bunker. Berhalter made numerous subs, including wingers Joe Gyau and Jonathan Amon, but nothing seemed to really shake the Reggae Boyz.

At long last, in the 88th minute, Andre Blake was forced into a good save. Holmes spun before putting a hopeful low ball into the box. Sargent shot while falling, and seemed to have the bottom corner picked out, but Blake came up with a wonderful save low to his right. It was the first save Blake had to make all night long.

With virtually the final play of the game, Mihailovic forced a giveaway at midfield and stormed in on a solo mission to level the score, but Jamaica managed to put him off just enough, and his falling cross attempt was hacked clear by the visitors.

The USMNT will have one last Gold Cup warm-up, as they face Venezuela on June 9th at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.

Highlights will be added when they are made available.

Box Score

International Friendly
Jamaica 1 (Nicholson 60)

USA (3421): Zack Steffen; Matt Miazga (C) (Cameron Carter-Vickers 72), Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream (Nick Lima 59); Paul Arriola (Joe Gyau 72), Wil Trapp, Jackson Yueill (Jonathan Amon 59), Antonee Robinson (Daniel Lovitz 80); Cristian Roldan (Duane Holmes 66), Djordje Mihailovic; Josh Sargent

Jamaica (4231): Andre Blake (C); Alvas Powell, Damion Lowe, Shaun Francis, Kemar Lawrence; Kevon Lambert (Devon Williams 64), Michael Hector (Andre Lewis 51); Maalique Foster (Shamar Nicholson 56), Peter-Lee Vassell (Tyreek Magee 77), Brian Brown (Alex Marshall 64); Dever Orgill (Darren Mattocks 85)

USA - None
Jamaica - None