Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica can expect no favours from the United States when the countries clash in a World Cup football qualifier next month, although the Americans have already advanced to football's biggest tournament in 2014 while the Reggae Boyz desperately cling to fading hopes of a trip to Brazil.
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has vowed to field a full strength team for the Americans' final home game in the CONCACAF Hexagonal round on October 11 in Kansas City, Missouri. The aim is to beat the Boyz and then win against Panama away four days later to cap US competition in the 'Hex'.
"Definitely for our last two qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama, our approach is six points," Klinsman told ussoccer.com earlier this week.
"We want to win these two games badly, and we are going to bring in the best players. We are going to bring in everyone that is available and finish this qualifying campaign on the highest note possible."
US are already buoyed after defeating Mexico on September 6 to secure a World Cup place and top spot in the six team group with 16 points, 12 more than cellar dwellers Jamaica. Costa Rica, with 15, also qualified.
Honduras, 11, and Mexico and Panama, both on eight, round out competition for the third and last automatic World Cup spot. Jamaica can only hope for fourth place, which earns a play-off against New Zealand for another place in Brazil.
But American fans expect nothing less than victory at Livestrong Park, which has a capacity of 18,400-plus. The stadium is sold out and Klinsmann believes the US should reward supporters by closing out America's home stand strong against Jamaica.
" ... We owe them a real good game," he said. "Therefore, everybody that is fit and healthy and belongs in that group will be there."
Torrid time for Boyz
The last time Jamaica played the Americans in the US, the Boyz endured a torrid time in Columbus, Ohio before going down 1-0 on September 11, 2012 in the CONCACAF semi-final round. Four days earlier the Boyz had clipped the Americans 2-1 in Kingston, the first time Jamaica defeated the US in a senior football international.
However, Jamaica lost 2-1 on June 7 at the National Stadium when the countries met in the 'Hex'.
Much has changed since. Theodore Whitmore was replaced as Jamaica's head coach by German Winfried Schäfer for the last two qualifiers. Improved defence earned draws against Panama (0-0) and Costa Rica (1-1). Anything short of victory next month - against the US and Honduras on October 15 - and the Boyz are out of the World Cup. A win by either Panama or Mexico eliminates Jamaica as well. To qualify for the fourth spot, Jamaica must win and hope Panama or Mexico secure no more than one point total from their last two games.
The US, meanwhile, expect no letdown. With a deep pool of players chasing precious places in next year's World Cup squad, Jamaica can expect a tough night in Kansas City.
"Competition is an ongoing, never-ending topic in our environment," Klinsmann told ussoccer.com. "We want to challenge everyone. The starting guys need to feel there is a guy behind that wants to take his spot away, and even that guy is challenged by another guy.
" ... This competition is really just starting now."
Jamaica must brace for the brunt of it.