Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
KANSAS CITY, Kansas, USA:
A confident start against the United States fizzled into a limp finish which dashed Jamaica's 2014 World Cup qualifying hopes yesterday with a 2-0 defeat. Here's how the Reggae Boyz fared.
GOALKEEPER: Dwayne Kerr hardly had anything to do for long periods. His first real save came in the 45th, comfortably holding a long-distance shot. Could do little to stop either US goal, made a fabulous foot save and moved sharply off his line.
DEFENCE: Impressive first half, especially the central pair of Wes Morgan and Adrian Mariappa, which shut down US dangermen Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan easily. Demar Phillips and Lloyd Doyley, however, didn't offer enough in attack.
Nearly all US shots came from Jamaica's turnovers in midfield, which cannot be blamed on this unit.
Gave Jamaica few causes to worry about conceding until a five-minute period of confusion late, which led to the US goals. The second score was particularly disappointing as the unit appeared to stand around dazed and shell-shocked, marring what started as a good show, but faded into a sideshow of desperation.
MIDFIELD: The Boyz easily held their own in this area at the outset. Je-Vaughn Watson showed composure and creativity, comfortable in the centre of the pitch. He and Rodolph Austin's timely interceptions made sure Jamaica stayed on par. In tandem with roving Jobi McAnuff, Jamaica took the sting out the Americans early.
But ill-timed turnovers and sluggish counterattacks robbed the Boyz of potential scoring opportunities throughout. Austin's late half free kick, which just missed the upright, was among Jamaica's rare goalscoring opportunities.
Watson's sweetly timed pass set Deshorn Brown on goal early in the second half. The biggest blow for Jamaica was when he left the field with an injury with about 20 minutes to go. Jamaica, desperate to score, then gave up control and the US took charge of this area - and the game - for the remainder.
FORWARDS: Brown, another rookie, was sharp early and often, pressing US with his pace and direct approach. Late in the first half Darren Mattocks came to life, his speed worrying US from the left flank. His second-half header was saved by US goalkeeper Tim Howard. Ryan Johnson, alone as the target man, was under pressure all day, but missed a good chance when he failed to follow quickly enough to capitalise on a spilled save by Howard.
Brown's muff of Watson's pass could have given Jamaica a lead. Theo Robinson replaced Watson, but was ineffective. Jermaine Anderson, Jamaica's goalscorer in the last match, entered the game way too late to make a significant mark.
Again, the Boyz failed to score - the sad story of the campaign.
COACH: Winfried Schäfer made several bold changes by starting six new starters - Kerr, Mattocks, Brown, Johnson, Phillips and Watson. His 4-3-3 formation not only signalled intent to attack, but was also a key twist from the five-man defensive backline.
Yet, despite Jamaica's inexperienced line-up, the team started confidently, justifying the coach's faith. The three-man front-line worried US with pace. The team, especially Watson, showed confidence.
But there were questionable moves by the German - the most glaring being the late introduction of Anderson.