JAMAICA, U.S. CLASH

Mexico’s Pablo Barrera, front, is challenged by Jamaica’s Jermaine Hue during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Mexico won 1-0.
AP Photo/Andres Leighton

Jamaica and the U.S men’s national teams renew their fierce rivalry tonight (Friday, June 7) in a CONCACAF final-round World Cup qualifying showdown at the National Stadium in Kingston. The teams, though, are going into the game, coming off different results: Jamaica, on Tuesday, three days earlier, lost to Mexico, 1-0, at the National Stadium in what was the fourth qualifying game for each, while the USA is coming off a 4-3 win over a weaken German national team.

In a very competitive match Tuesday night, Jamaica failed to duplicate its good play that garnered a goalless draw in Mexico in the teams’ first match-up earlier in the year. Only goal keeper Donovan Ricketts, with another stellar performance on the night, managed to repeat his good play. The sharpness, work rate and smart play of the Reggae Boyz that hushed the full house at the awesome Azteca Stadium in Mexico City was missing; instead, we saw a well organized Jamaican team, including German-born Daniel Gordon in his Reggae Boyz debut, that needed a few extra practice sessions in finishing. Lone striker Ryan Johnson needed better service and support in the offensive third of the field. Johnson and teammates did produce scoring chances that scared the visitors, but Mexico’s goal keeper Jesus Corona made the crucial saves.

Mexico, meanwhile, seemed to explore a Jamaican weakness on the night: the inability of the Jamaican defense to deal with high crosses in the penalty area. From the outset, Mexico’s strategy was to get the ball wide to its wingers to supply crosses into the penalty area; it created the most important moment in the game when Carlos Salcido overlapped on the left wing and crossed to Aldo De Negris for the winning goal in the 34th minute.

The much-needed win for Mexico (6 pts.), which drew its first three qualifiers, vaulted the Tri-Color to the top of the standing and brightens its hope of qualifying for Brazil 2014; Mexico plays in Panama tonight. Jamaica (2 pts.), with only two points from four games and taking on a positive USA team tonight, faces a much harder task of qualifying, but Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore has a positive outlook.

“We know it’s going to be tough, we set out on ten tough games,” said Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore. “We’re very disappointed but we’ll have to stay strong. We’re still just one win away [from the qualifying places in the table]. We can definitely still turn it around.”

The USA, celebrating its centennial anniversary last Sunday, surprised a sold out crowd of 47,359 at RFK Stadium in Washington DC and millions on television by scoring a 4-3 upset of the German National team. A Jozy Altidore strike in the 13th minute and a Clint Dempsey pair (60th,65th ) in the second half, propped up by an own-goal, paced the U. S., which showed no effects of the 5-2, spanking by Belgium three days earlier.

The U. S. got another solid performance from Michael Bradley at midfield, who missed the Belgium game. Altidore, who played only the first half against Belgium, played most of the game and showed the form that produced his 30-plus goals for his team I n the Dutch Premier League. Goal keeper Tim Howard played the entire game and put in another strong performance for the U. S. The Americans have always found the going tough in Jamaica; the last time there it suffered a 2-0 defeat in the earlier round.

The win puts the U.S. in a positive mood as it kicks of a three game stretch, which includes the second game on Tuesday against Panama in Seattle and a third on Tuesday, June 18 against Honduras in Sandy, Utah. Dempsey’s goals put him at second on the U.S. all-time scoring list with 35, trailing leader Landon Donovan (49). Heik Westermann (35th ) Max Kruse (78th ) and Julian Draxler (82nd ) scored for Germany.

U.S. WOMEN WIN

The U.S. women’s national team was part of celebrating 100 years of organized soccer in the U. S. and traveled to BMO Filed in Toronto and defeated a stubborn Canadian national team, 3-0, on a pair of goals by Alex Morgan and a tally by Canada-born Sydney Leroux. Canada held the U.S. to a goalless first half until a change in the Canadian defense allowed Morgan enough room to tally twice. Canada went from a four-person backline to a three-person defense, which hurt the team’s chances for a better result

MLS

The New York Red Bulls lost its first match in eight games Saturday night, to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2-1, at Red Bull Arena in front of 19,969 spectators. The loss broke New York’s unbeaten run (5-0-2) of seven games, its best in 10 years. In other MLS results, Columbus and Houston and Toronto FC and Philadelphia all played to 1-1 draws; Montreal topped Sporting KC, 2-1; Dallas and Colorado ended, 2-2; Real Salt Lake beat San Jose, 3-0; New England thrashed Los Angeles, 5-0; Chicago gave DC United its eleventh straight defeat, 2-0; and Seattle topped Chivas USA, 2-0.

Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, right, fights for the ball with Jamaica’s Daniel Gordon during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Mexico won 1-0.
AP Photo/Andres Leighton

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