8 a.m. ET: The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team continues its journey to the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Jamaica on Friday.
The Americans have already qualified for next year’s tournament, but they will face the Reggae Boyz with the same focus and intensity that has taken them to the top of the CONCACAF hexagonal standings. U.S. players are playing for their places on the team — both now and in Brazil next summer — and a potential seed at the World Cup. They also want to give their supporters a good show in what is the Americans’ last home game in this World Cup qualifying cycle.
The Associated Press reports U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has issued this latest challenge to his players. He wants them to maintain the lofty standards, which saw the U.S. qualify with two games to spare.
“You want to win every game, get the points, win the group and be No. 1 in CONCACAF,” he said.
Friday’s game will test the depth of the U.S. squad, as regulars Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Omar Gonzalez, Eddie Johnson and Fabian Johnson are out with injuries. Expect Rhode Island native Geoff Cameron to start alongside Matt Besler in central defense. The midfield could have a new look, and Landon Donovan could feature heavily in the attack. The absences will give other players a chance to impress Klinsmann and increase the level of competition for places in the World Cup squad.
Jamaica has a mathematical chance to qualify for the World Cup, but it must win its remaining two games (and benefit from fortunate results in games involving other teams) in order to reach a playoff series against New Zeland. Winfried Schaefer replaced Theodore Whitmore as head coach in July. The German led Jamaica to a draw in Panama in September. Schaefer and the Reggae Boyz know it’s now or never.
“We have to win,” Schaefer said. “There is no choice for us.”
Veteran goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts will miss the game due to injuries. Richard McCallum will likely start in goal.
Sporting Park, home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City, will be the venue for the game. The $200 million jewel of the Midwest will be sold out, as over 18,500 fans will certainly provide another world-class atmosphere for the game. Besler hopes to enjoy a special homecoming. The 26-year-old Sporting Kansas City star grew up in nearby Overland Park, Kansas, (just 13 miles from Sporting Park). He’ll have plenty of family, friends and fans in the capacity crowd.
Join us right here starting at 6 p.m., as we’ll bring you all the action from USA-Jamaica.
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