The U.S. face Jamaica twice in five days in their World Cup qualifying group. They first travel to Kingston on September 7th before the return game on the 11th at Columbus Crew Stadium. US Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is well aware that they cannot afford to let points slip away and has been with his 24-man squad since Sunday in preparation for the two matches.
The U.S. leads Group A with four points from two matches in the Semi-final Round of Qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Jamaica has the same number of points but the U.S. lead on goal difference. There is no room for complacency in the American camp as they have not managed better than a draw in four previous qualifiers in Jamaica. Klinsmann originally named a 25-man squad but midfielder Joshua Gatt was forced to withdraw with a hamstring injury.
Klinsmann has set his team the target of maximum points from the two matches to set themselves firmly on the path to the World Cup finals. He elected not to call up a replacement for Gatt and is happy with the team he has at his disposal. Striker Clint Dempsey is something of a talisman for the U.S. and he completed a high profile move across London from Fulham to Tottenham last week. Klinsmann, hugely popular at White Hart Lane during his playing days, is delighted with the move for Dempsey and feels he will benefit from competing for a top four Premiership side. Spurs were only denied a place in the Champions League by Chelsea?s success in the competition but are looking to move forward under youthful new coach Andre Villas-Boas. Dempsey had been linked with a number of clubs including Liverpool and Aston Villa and it was a late swoop by Spurs that sealed his transfer.
Klinsmann was sympathetic towards Dempsey for the way he has dealt with the added media pressure in recent months and feels that he has a very important role to play for the U.S. He has not played since June but Klinsmann will not hesitate to introduce him against Jamaica if he is fit and in the right frame of mind. Klinsmann has had to juggle his goalkeepers a little with Sean Johnson covering for the first game in Jamaica before returning to the Chicago Fire and Nick Rimando stepping in for the second game. The improvement in the American game was highlighted by the national teams victories over Italy and Mexico this year and they now have that extra confidence that comes from beating the best.
The U.S. are rated around 6-5 favourites to win in Jamaica with the hosts priced at 3-1 and the draw 12-5. Clint Dempsey is 6-1 favourite to open the scoring in his first appearance since his £4million transfer to Tottenham.