It’s only the fourth of 14 World Cup qualifiers that will be played by the U.S. men’s national team, but Thursday’s home game against Jamaica is a big one. Costly points dropped at home cost the USA a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and after drawing Canada 1-1 in Nashville, Tenn., last month, the Americans need all three points against Jamaica.
The Reggae Boyz are short-handed and in last place in the eight-team CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings with a lone point — only the top three book a ticket to Qatar in 2022 and the fourth-place team gets to play in a play-in series — but they will still prove a challenge. Jamaica has always played the USA tough and it held the Americans scoreless until the 83rd minute in their recent Gold Cup quarterfinal.
Plus, the USMNT will be missing three key players — Christian Pulisic (ankle), Gio Reyna (hamstring) and John Books (back) — because of injury, and it’s a young squad that’s still finding its way. All eyes will be on 18-year-old striker Ricardo Pepi, who has fans buzzing after his exploits last month and Weston McKennie, who is back from last month’s suspension and is starting.
Sporting News will be following the event live and providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
MORE on USMNT:
- Three players to fill the shoes of Pulisic & Reyna
- DeCourcy: Berhalter has no real choice for his No. 1 ‘keeper
- USMNT’s best striker is obvious now
USA vs. Jamaica live score
USA vs. Jamaica updates & highlights
Standings and results: Updated World Cup qualifying table
(All times Eastern)
Halftime: USA 0, Jamaica 0
Halftime: Jamaica created the best chances of that first half. The USA is left to recriminate after three questionable calls from the referee. Two that could’ve resulted in straight reds and another that was really close to being a penalty. The USA needs a little magic from someone to come up with a big play. The crosses in the box aren’t going anywhere and there’s nowhere to run. Matthew Hoppe and Tim Weah off the bench could bring that type of play.
46th min.: Penalty shout for the USA! Paul Arriola is shoved from behind on the corner of the Jamaican box. No call from the referee.
45th min.: Wow! Jamaica with the best looks of the first half. Shamar Nicholson with the glancing header on a corner kick and he nearly finds the far post.
41st min.: Big save by Matt Turner! Jamal Lowe with a low, curling left-footed shot and Turner dives to sweep it away from danger.
40th min.: Here’s today’s referee crew. Once again a reminder, no VAR:
- Referee: Reon Radix (Grenada)
- Assistant Referee: Keytzel Corrales (Nicaragua)
- Assistant Referee: Iroots Appleton (Antigua & Barbuda)
- 4th Official: Tristley Bassue (St. Kitts & Nevis)
36th min.: The USMNT is opting for lofted crosses in the box and Jamaica can handle those all day. The USA has been most dangerous with quick combinations that allow for runs in behind.
33rd min.: Another incident. This time it’s Brenden Aaronson sprung in behind and Damion Lowe hacks him down right outside the box. But Aaronson was alone on goal. Here, too, the referee opts for a yellow card. The USMNT can’t believe it.
30th min.: Weston McKennie tries to solve the issue. He makes a run down the heart of the Jamaica defense after a give-and-go with Brenden Aaronson. His cross inside the box is blocked for a corner, but nothing comes of it.
25th min.: So not much is happening in either end. Jamaica is giving the USMNT the flanks. Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest are getting on the ball deep in Jamaica’s half. But the Reggae Boyz are clogging the middle so there are few clear looks. A Gio Reyna or Christian Pulisic would’ve been helpful in this situation with their dribbling ability and vision.
20th min.: Weston McKennie is active. Minutes after he won a free kick wide right, he blasts a long-distance shot that is off target. But he’s involved.
13th min.: Cross by Jamaica’s Shamar Nicholson and U.S. ‘keeper Matt Turner gobbles it up before it can get to any of his Jamaican teammates.
11th min.: Jamaica chance! Tyreek Magee gets the ball behind the U.S. midfield (with an arm in Tyler Adams’ face) and Magee fires a left-footed shot that just misses the top right corner of Matt Turner’s goal.
8th min.: Strong start for the USMNT. Gregg Berhalter wasn’t kidding: The Americans aren’t wasting any time when they win the ball. They go vertical immediately and they’re finding space, especially out wide.
3rd min.: In case you were wondering why there’s no VAR in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying — read this.
1st min.: We’re 18 seconds into the game and Kemar Lawrence could easily have received a red card here for tugging down Paul Arriola who’s sprung in behind on goal with green space in front of him. But the referee opts for the yellow card. Wow.
7:43 p.m.: It’s a full house in Austin:
7:42 p.m.: Anthems. (And a new look for Weston McKennie.)
Weston McKennie’s bleached spot of hair will power the USMNT to victory
— Ryan Rosenblatt, World Series Champion (@RyanRosenblatt) October 7, 2021
7:33 p.m.: Tifo incoming:
7:03 p.m.: Warmups underway:
6:52 p.m.: ESPN’s answer to the Paramount+ crew:
6:09 p.m.: Bus is almost at the stadium.
USA vs. Jamaica: Starting lineups
Gregg Berhalter gives Matt Turner the start at goalkeeper over Manchester City backup Zack Steffen, and Pepi gets a second straight start. Walker Zimmerman gets the nod over Chris Richards at center back and Yunus Musah is thrown right into the starting XI after needing a follow-up COVID-19 test.
USA starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 1-Matt Turner-GK — 5-Antonee Robinson, 12-Miles Robinson, 3-Walker Zimmerman, 2-Sergino Dest — 8-Weston McKennie, 4-Tyler Adams (c), 6-Yunus Musah — 11-Brenden Aaronson, 16-Ricardo Pepi, 7-Paul Arriola
USA subs (12): 13-Zack Steffen-GK, 22-Shaq Moore, 21-George Bello, 18-Mark McKenzie, 15-Chris Richards, 14-Luca de la Torre, 17-Sebastian Lletget, 10-Cristian Roldan, 23-Kellyn Acosta, 20-Tim Weah, 9-Gyasi Zardes, 19-Matthew Hoppe (Note: Gianluca Busio, Sean Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin did not make the matchday squad)
As mentioned, the Reggae Boyz are short-handed. According to local reports, they will be missing three England-based players because of injury: Ethan Pinnock (Brentford), Liam Moore (Reading) and Daniel Johnson (Preston North End). That’s on top of Leon Bailey (Aston Villa) and Michail Antonio (West Ham) already being out. But Jamaica is still optimistic. “We have enough quality in the squad to beat these Americans,” assistant coach Paul Hall told the Jamaica Observer.
Jamaica starting lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): 1-Andre Blake-GK — 20-Kemar Lawrence, 17-Damion Lowe, 19-Adrian Mariappa, 5-Alvas Powell — 22-Devon “Speedy” Williams, 15-Jevaughn Watson — 9-Jamal Lowe, 21-Tyreek Magee, 10-Bobby Reid — 11-Shamar Nicholson
Jamaica subs (9): Dillon Barnes-GK, Jeadine White-GK, Javain Brown, Oniel Fisher, Jamoi Topey, Junior Flemmings, Javon East, Andre Gray, Kemar Roofe
How to watch USA vs. Jamaica
- Date: Thursday, Oct. 7
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN2
- Spanish-language TV: Univision, TUDN
- Streaming: fuboTV, ESPN+
The World Cup qualifier between the USA and Jamaica will be televised in English (ESPN2) and Spanish (Univision, TUDN). Those networks are available to be streamed on fuboTV, which offers a free seven-day trial for new users.
The match will be held at a sold-out Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas. It will be the first USMNT match at the venue, which opened in June. The U.S. women’s national team played the first match at the venue.
USA vs. Jamaica: Betting odds & prediction
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Pick: USA -1.25 Asian Handicap (-140)
The USMNT is the clear favorite to win the match and the only question is how many goals the Americans will score. The Jamaicans will play defense-first and when they’re on their game and goalkeeper Andre Blake is having a blinder, they can stymie the best teams (see the opening match vs. Mexico). They’ve also capitulated in other matches.
Even with a decimated Jamaica squad, it’s best to steer away from goal totals. Because the sides are unplayable, the focus turns to the spreads market. Seeking some insurance in case Jamaica has one of those games, the recommended play is the USA -1.25 Asian Handicap, which gives you back half your bet if the USA only wins by a goal.
Prediction: USA 3, Jamaica 1
- Moneyline: USA -330/Draw +425/Jamaica +750
- Spread: USA -1.5 (+100)/Jamaica +1.5 (-120)
- O/U 2.5 total goals: Over -130/Under +105
- Both teams to score: Yes +120/No -160