Little more than two weeks after the USA women’s soccer team pulled off the feel-good sports story of the year, winning their third World Cup, the USA Men’s National Team engineered a feel-bad story likely to send shockwaves throughout the United States soccer program as the USA crashed out of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, beaten 2-1 by a Jamaica side that ranks 42 slots lower than the USA in FIFA’s world rankings.
The USA men often appeared sloppy and undisciplined, and 30-year-old goalkeeper Brad Guzan made a boneheaded blunder that set up what turned out to be the winning goal in a stunning defeat at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Wednesday night that could put Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s job on the line.
The previous USA Men’s team coach, Bob Bradley, was fired after the team was soundly beaten by Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup Final. But this year’s team, despite being the tournament’s defending champions and playing in five straight Gold Cup Finals, could not even get past the semifinal.
The first Jamaica goal came in the 31st minute when the USA failed to defend a long throw-in, allowing Jamaica’s Darren Mattocks, who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer, to get his head on the ball, looping it over the head of Guzman, who also appeared out of position.
Just five minutes later, Jamaica scored again after Guzman threw the ball downfield from the edge of the box — but extending his arm over the line, which resulted in a whistle for handball.
The violation set up a free kick for Giles Barnes, the Houston Dynamo striker, who expertly guided the ball over a motionless USA wall, over Guzman and into the net.
The defeat was the first time the USA has been eliminated from the Gold Cup by another CONCACAF team other than Mexico. The USA was last eliminated before the Final in 2003 when they lost in a semifinal to international powerhouse Brazil, a non-CONCACAF team invited to participate in the tournament.
In Sunday’s match, the USA got a goal back in the 48th minute off the foot of Captain Michael Bradley, but were stymied by the Reggae Boyz defense the rest of the way, despite a few promising chances.
Team USA is ranked 34th in the world, while Jamaica sits in the 76th position. In fact, the two teams had faced each other 22 times in their history with Jamaica winning only once before the stunning 2015 Gold Cup upset.
[Image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]