USMNT vs. Jamaica: Top Storylines and Predictions for 2023 Gold Cup
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The United States men’s national team begins its Concacaf Gold Cup title defense on Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago against Jamaica.
The Gold Cup roster is almost entirely different from the group we saw hoist the Concacaf Nations League trophy last week.
Interim manager B.J. Callaghan will utilize a majority of players on the fringe of the USMNT first team who play in Major League Soccer and across Europe.
Only five members of the USMNT’s 23-man squad own 25 or more international appearances. DeAndre Yedlin and Jordan Morris are the only ones with over 50 caps.
Jamaica, a two-time Gold Cup runner-up, should be the USMNT’s toughest opponent in Group A.
The Reggae Boyz are bringing arguably their strongest roster ever to the continental tournament, and they could be viewed as a dark horse to win the trophy by some because of their talent level.
Gold Cup Serves as Proving Ground for USMNT Depth Players
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The USMNT roster is full of players in need of strong tournaments to be considered in the true first team.
Yedlin, Morris, Aaron Long, Cristian Roldan and Matt Turner are the most experienced players on the roster, but only one or two of them could be considered full-time first-teamers.
Fourteen members of the USMNT squad have fewer than 10 international appearances, so the Gold Cup will serve as a proving ground for them ahead of the second Gregg Berhalter era.
Berhalter was re-hired as USMNT head coach last week, but he not serve as the head coach for the Gold Cup. Callaghan, who was one of Berhalter’s assistants, was the interim boss for the Nations League and will serve in the same role for the Gold Cup.
Berhalter should have close eyes on the roster, and there are few spots on the true first team 23-man squad up for grabs when everyone is healthy.
Defenders John Tolkin, Jalen Neal and Bryan Reynolds are among the top players 21 and under to keep an eye on.
Neal could compete for minutes at center back, especially while Miles Robinson recovers form a calf injury, while Reynolds and Tolkin are fighting for time on the outside.
Nineteen-year-old forward Cade Cowell turned heads at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and could make an immediate impact on the USMNT forward line.
Morris is the only player on the USMNT roster with more than 10 international goals, so there is a massive need for the scoring to come from somewhere, and Cowell could provide that boost.
The USMNT’s expectation is still to win the Gold Cup, but the task will be tougher with a weakened squad, which is why Jamaica could be dangerous.
Jamaica Comes to Gold Cup with Strongest Roster Ever
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Jamaica announced during its roster unveiling that Everton’s Demarai Gray switched international allegiances from England.
Gray is the latest, and one of the more high-profile, recruits to join the Reggae Boyz over the last few years.
Antonio, Gray and Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey give the Caribbean nation a strong attacking trio for any team in Concacaf to match.
The hope for the Reggae Boyz is that Gray assimilates in the squad right away and makes an instant impact against the current top team in Concacaf.
Jamaica may not concede many goals throughout the tournament, either, as it has three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake in net.
Blake has long been one of the best goalkeepers in Concacaf, but he has never had this type of attacking support to help him win games.
Jamaica went to the 2015 and 2017 Gold Cup finals, and a result against the Americans could be the springboard to more success on the continental level.
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United States 1, Jamaica 1
The Americans may need a moment of individual brilliance to beat Blake at his best level.
Morris is the obvious choice to be the primary source of goals, but do not be surprised if a younger player, like Cowell, steps up to challenge the Jamaican defense.
Jamaica’s attack the best its ever been, and it will challenge Turner on a handful of occasions.
The potential absence of Robinson, who is a game-time decision with a calf injury, per Fox Sports’ Doug McIntyre, could hurt the American defense and make it more susceptible to Jamaica’s rushes into the final third.
A draw is not a bad result for either side. They are both expected to beat Trinidad and Tobago and Saint Kitts and Nevis, so Group A could come down to goal differential from the other two games.