September’s round of three World Cup Qualifying games netted the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) five out of a possible nine points. Realistically, it is not a terrible set of results. Especially when taken into account the fact that two of the three games occurred on the road in hostile Central American stadiums.
But, U.S. fans grew concerned with the manner in which the three games unfolded. Firstly, Gregg Berhalter’s squad played to a lifeless, scoreless draw in El Salvador. Secondly, just three days later, the U.S. dropped points at home in a 1-1 draw with Canada. Thirdly, things began to fall and sent flashbacks of October 10, 2017. The Americans trailed 1-0 at the half against Honduras, playing disorganized and lackluster soccer.
Fortunately for the USMNT, a scoring tsunami hit in the second half. In the end, the U.S. walked out 4-1 winners over the Hondurans.
Holistically, five points was a decent return for three games. However, many fans would see five points as a disaster for the upcoming October international break. Moreover, two of the three games are at home. The first one is in the Lone Star State, when the USMNT takes on Jamaica in matchday four.
USMNT roster shakeup
The roster for the USMNT lacks two prominent names that featured in the September slate of games. Both Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna will miss out on these three games with nagging injuries.
Further headaches for supporters abound with the United Kingdom government keeping their COVID-19 travel restrictions. The British government deemed a number of countries around the world “red list” countries. Anybody who travels into those countries must quarantine for 10 days upon their return to the United Kingdom, regardless of vaccination status.
Panama is one of those countries. It is also the site of the second of the USMNT’s three games this window. As a result, U.S. Soccer already stated Zack Steffen (Manchester City) and Antonee Robinson (Fulham) will not make the trip to Panama.
Also, John Brooks will miss the Americans’ three games. The center back remains sidelined with a back injury.
READ MORE: American players currently at European clubs.
On a more positive note, Weston McKennie makes his return to the USMNT roster. The Juventus midfielder returns to the fold after his dismissal from camp in September for several violations of team COVID protocols.
Despite the rash of injuries to big name players, replacements continue to step up for the calling. The most exciting of these options come up front with two players who scored in that win over Honduras. Ricardo Pepi made his debut for the team in that 4-1 triumph, scoring one and assisting two. Also, Brenden Aaronson looks to bring his hot form from RB Salzburg into international duty. The Medford, New Jersey, native has five goals in 10 appearances for the national team.
Scouting out Jamaica
Jamaica struggled through their first three games in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying this session.
Since the fall of 2020, Jamaica has three wins in 11 games, featuring seven losses. They reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 Gold Cup. However, the team fell to the US on an 83rd minute goal from Matthew Hoppe.
Their start to qualifying in September sank them to bottom of the octagonal. A 90th-minute loss on the road against Mexico preceded a 3-0 pounding at home from Panama. The Jamaicans drew 1-1 away to Costa Rica, which is actually a decent result. The U.K. government’s “red list” restrictions did not handicap the manager, Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, this time. He recalls a mostly full-strength squad ahead of the game against the U.S.
Of the 20 players called up, five of them play for clubs based in the United States.
The United States leads the all-time series against the Jamaicans with a record of 17-3-8. The last time these two side met was on July 25, 2021, in that Gold Cup quarterfinal fixture.
This will be the second time the USMNT plays at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, in two-and-a-half months. In that game, the U.S. knocked off Qatar, 1-0. That game was part of a long run of unbeaten games for Gregg Berhalter’s side. Furthermore, the USMNT is unbeaten in their last 12 games. Additionally, the team only has one loss in their last 22 games.
They look to continue that run to help their standing in the Octagonal, where they sit tied for third. Mexico is two points ahead of the Americans with two wins and a draw. Next, Canada and Panama join the U.S. on five points. Then, Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador are in a log jam at two points. Finally, Jamaica rounds out the standings on one point.
Thursday night’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET from Austin, Texas. Live broadcasts of the game will be on ESPN2, Univision, and TUDN.
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