Jamaica will continue its quest for a place at next year’s FIFA World Cup Finals in Qatar when it faces the US at the Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas today at 7:30 pm (Est).
Jamaica, who has lost twice to the Americans this years – a 4-1 result in a friendly in Austria in March, and a 1-0 result in the quarter-finals on this summer’s CONCACAF Golf Cup Tournament, will try to reverse those results today in a game of huge significance for the Caribbean nation.
Jamaica sits bottom of the Final Round group on one point. Mexico leads with seven, ahead of Canada, US and Panama on five, with Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador on two points each.
The top three teams at the end of the home-and-away fixtures will book tickets to Qatar next year, while the fourth-placed team enters an Inter-Continental play-off for a last chance to make it to Qatar.
Jamaica’s head coach Theodore Whitmore enters the game with a squad of 20 players as three were late withdrawals forced by injuries on Tuesday, while another, Michail Antonio of West Ham United, decided to stay home after he and the Jamaica Football Federation failed to arrive at an agreement as regards having his personal physiotherapist make the trip or the next three games.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Dennis Taylor was replaced in the final group by young Jaedine White, the goalkeeper who produced two saves in a penalty shoot-out to help his club Cavalier win Jamaica’s Premier League crown for the first time in 40 years on the weekend.
White’s teammate and central defender Jamoi Topey was also drafted in a cover for Ethan Pinnock, one of the three forced out due to injuries. The others are Daniel Johnson and Liam Moore.
While Jamaica has managed just a drawn result in it first three fixtures, the Americans have done much better, winning one and drawing twice.
The Gregg Berhalter-coached US team is stacked with great talent all over the field, and despite the absence of regular Captain Christian Pulisic as well as Gio Reyna, the team is still sufficiently talented to start as firm favorites to take three points.
Jamaica, on the other hand, has been without luck, having lost two points in the closing stages of its game against Mexico. However, Jamaica was pathetic and deservedly lost the second at home to Panama. But it did bounce back against Costa Rica and should have won the game based on the number of clear chances created.
Assistant head coach Paul Hall, a member of the Jamaica squad which qualified for the FIFA World Cup Finals in France 1998, is not overly worried about the absence of these players.
In fact, he believes it provides opportunities for others to step into that void and make a name for themselves.
One of the areas most affected is central defence, and though Hall conceded that was an area of concern, he insisted that it was an opportunity for a new face to rise to the occasion.
“All the areas have got to be managed properly, that (defence) is an area that we want to manage, but when you are missing people it’s an area for other people to step up.
“People have to understand that if somebody is not here, that’s an opportunity for a young player, an old player that’s not been in the system to come back in the system, a player who is making his debut, it’s a chance for them to go and show who they are and to go and emerge and introduce themselves to the group if they have not been in the team and that’s really how we all got our places as footballers, so yes we do have to manage it.”
Today will also see Honduras hosting Costa Rica at 7:05 pm in San Pedro Sula, Mexico hosting Canada at the Azteca Stadium at 8:40 pm, after which Panama plays away to El Salvador at 9:05 pm.
Jamaica’s team should come from Captain Andre Blake, Dillon Barnes, Jeadine White, Bobby Reid, Andre Gray, Kemar Roofe, Alvas Powell, Jamal Lowe, Oniel Fisher, Damion Lowe, Tyreek MaGee, Javain Brown, Devon Williams, Jevaughn Watson, Kemar Lawrence, Adrian Mariappa, Shamar Nicholson, Junior Flemmings, Jamoi Topey, Javon East.
The Americnas are expected to select their team from: Sean Johnson, Zack Steffen, Matt Turner, George Bello, John Brooks, Sergino Dest, Mark McKenzie, Shaq Moore, Tim Ream, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Gianluca Busio, Luca de la Torre, Sebastian Lletget, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Cristian Roldan, Brenden Aaronson, Paul Arriola, Matthew Hoppe, Ricardo Pepi, Tim Weah, Gyasi Zardes.