What with competitive U-23 games going on, it’s easy to forget about the endgame – improving the senior national team – but a FIFA International Window means a pair of friendly matches for the adults. Today, Jamaica.
Time, Location: Thursday, March 25, Noon. CDT • Weiner Neustadt, Austria
Weather: 52ºF, 2% chance of rain, 59% humidity, negligible wind
Watch: ESPN2 (national) • Unimás/TUDN (nacional)
The FIFA rankings: USA 22 , Jamaica 47
Competition: International friendly
The Reggae Boyz
This is a largely-domestic roster for Jamaica, with nine of 20 call-ups playing in the Jamaican league. The other 11 largely play in the Championship (two from Bristol City, one from each of Blackburn, Brentford, Reading, Rotherham), though there are varying levels of the English League system – including soon-to-no-longer-be-Premier-League Fulham’s Michael Hector.
What you don’t see are some of the recent dual-national commitments (former England youth international Michail Antonio of West Ham among them). That takes a little luster off the match, with a full-strength Jamaica still ranked well below the United States in the FIFA rankings – though up to third in the region, ahead of Costa Rica, Honduras, and Canada teams that for practical purposes are probably better right now – and the US able to bring in most of its top Europe-based players.
Speaking of bringing in top Europe-based players, caps for Yunus Musah (plays for Valencia in Spain, committed to the US over England and others), Theo-Jordan Siebatcheu (plays for Young Boys in Switzerland, also a former France youth international) would be nice. They wouldn’t cap-tie those guys to the US, but would certainly go a ways toward connecting those guys with the program. There are also a few guys (John Brooks, Reggie Cannon, and Nicholas Gioachinni) who have to head back to their clubs after the first match, so let’s slide them a start, as well.
Beyond that, give the people what they want: the big names. I’m talkin’ Zack Steffen in net, Sergiño Dest at left back (conveniently, he can play his more natural right side after Cannon’s departure, should that be desired)… uh, Brenden Aaronson at attacking mid?, Pulisic on a wing. As close to a full-strength group as possible for this one is nice.
On the flipside, it really depends on managing minutes for some of those guys and deciding whether you’d rather be at top strength against Jamaica – or in a few days’ time against Northern Ireland. I do believe it would behoove the Americans to win both of these games (and thus to put as strong a lineup as possible on the field for both of them), even if they’re ultimately meaningless friendlies.
Getting into the top 20 of the FIFA rankings before a very busy Summer would be nice.
Keeping it brief because we’re under two hours from kick.
United States wins 3-1.