USA push for a Nations League three-peat with Jamaica their next obstacle

March 21  The USA continue their push for a third consecutive Concacaf Nations League title tonight at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

They face Jamaica in the first semi-final, the winners will face either Mexico or Panama in the final on Sunday March 24, also in the AT&T Stadium.

In qualifying for the final four, the US almost slipped up in the quarter finals against Trinidad and Tobago (a place where they have fallen over before in failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup). A 3-0 win at home in the first leg was followed up with a 2-1 loss away.

It is the first time that returning coach US Gregg Berhalter will have his full squad together since the World Cup as the US looks to build a competitive side for their hosting of the 2026 World Cup.

In the Nations League finals in June last year the US unleashed a younger looking line-up and a style of play under interim coach BJ Callaghan that was both free flowing and exciting to watch. Berhalter will be looking, and expected, to build on those performances.

Berhalter has been forced to make two last minute additions to his squad with injuries to Celta Vigo’s Luca de la Torre and Norwich’s Josh Sargent. To replace them he has called up two more European based players in Coventry City’s Haji Wright and Union Berlin’s Brenden Aaronson.

But the real focus will be on how he meshes the mercurial talents of Gio Reyna, Ricardo Pepi, Tim Weah, Folarin Bagolun and Yunus Musah.

Berhalter has his reliable old(er) stagers Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie – keeping faith in McKennie who has had a difficult season at Juventus – but is under scrutiny to show progress.

Nations League Team Stats – USA

 

Jamaica will provide a significant first challenge but the US will start as favourites.

The Jamaicans have dropped standout winger Leon Bailey for disciplinary reasons, while Demari Gray and top scorer Shamar Nicholson have a match suspension to serve.

Much will subsequently rely on whether Michail Antonio (West Ham) and Bobby Reid (Fulham) can provide a threat in front of goal to keep the US pegged back.

The Jamaicans are also without their Premier League defenders Ethan Pinnock (Brentford) and Amari’i Bell (Luton) who are both injured. They do have Philadephia Union’s Andre Blake in goal and he can be expected to have a busy Texas evening.

Jamaica have the ability to cause upsets. In their quarter final against Canada they lost the first leg 2-1 and looked to be out the competition until a second half comeback away from home levelled the aggregate at 4-4. Jamaica won the penalty shoot-out.

The last six meetings between the two countries have seen the win four, but the last two meetings have been draw.

Nations League Team Stats – Jamaica

 

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