Shamar Nicholson Leads Jamaica to 1-0 Win over United States in Gold Cup Tune-Up

The United States men’s national team suffered a disappointing setback with a 1-0 loss to Jamaica in Wednesday’s international friendly.

Shamar Nicholson provided the only goal of the match in the 60th minute as the Reggae Boyz completed the upset at Audi Field in Washington D.C. Team USA struggled to generate any offense and only finished with five shots total and one on goal.

The Americans had been undefeated in four matches so far in 2019, but the latest loss will kill a lot of momentum heading into the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The loss was especially notable considering how the team had previously fared in these matchups:

Without many of the squad’s big names like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Michael Bradley, this was a game for experimentation from Team USA.

First, there were several players in the lineup looking for spots on the Gold Cup roster or a bigger role, as head coach Gregg Berhalter explained coming in.

“I think there will be a few positions that are up for grabs, but not many,” Berhalter told reporters Tuesday. “A lot of the work has been done beforehand, but we will make a few decisions based on tomorrow’s game.”

Eyes were especially on midfielders Cristian Roldan and Djordje Mihailovic, although both were inconsistent with their passing and failed to create many opportunities on the field. Antonee Robinson showcased a high work rate but poor touch on the attack, making him ill-suited for offensive play.

Meanwhile, the match allowed Berhalter to try out a different hybrid formation as part of his system, as Stu Holden explained:

This created an aggressive attack that saw the team push forward toward the opposing net. With more experienced and skilled forwards, this could lead to more scoring chances and greater control of the action.

Unfortunately, this lineup couldn’t take advantage of the possession without the ability to penetrate into the box. It also allowed several counterattacks early on, with Jamaica taking eight shots in the first half compared to one from the U.S., including the only two on goal.

Of course, other than a few quick chances from the road team, there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement from either side in the first 45 minutes:

The second half was even worse for the United States, as Jamaica became the aggressor and tested Zack Steffen with some long shots.

Nicholson was finally able to produce with an impressive shot for his first career international goal:

Substitutes like Joe Gyau and Duane Holmes brought some energy in the final 20 minutes of the game, with Holmes especially providing value:

Still, it barely brought the Americans any closer to a goal in a rough offensive showing overall.

The result wasn’t nearly as important as the evaluations from this friendly match, but the United States still should expect better against this level of competition.


What’s Next?

The United States will face Venezuela on Sunday in Cincinnati for the team’s final international friendly before the start of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.


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