Heading into last Friday's match in Kingston, many Americans were keeping their eyes on Clint Dempsey. The United States' best player had not played a competitive match since early June and as good as he may be, it is tough for anyone to be anywhere near their top form or fitness after such a long layoff. Some were wondering whether he was even fit enough to start.
Dempsey did start and 36 seconds into the match he showed why, scoring the quickest goal in U.S. qualifying history. But the rest of the match was not nearly as good for the American start.
While Dempsey continued to work hard and try to get involved, he was not at his best and in the second half looked gassed. By the end, he was just trying to drag his legs along until the final whistle, which is to be expected of a player who hadn't played in so long.
Now just four days later, the U.S. has to play again and this one is even more important than Friday's. This time it is a must-win and the Americans would like to have their best player out there, but can Dempsey go 90 minutes again?
It's unlikely that he can put in the same shift that he put in on Friday, when he couldn't really even make it 90 minutes. Now it is more a determination of whether he can play an hour and start or whether he has just 30 minutes in him and comes of the bench.
Maybe it was a mistake for Jurgen Klinsmann to play Dempsey for 90 minutes on Friday, but he did and there is no way back now. The U.S. has to win and they may have to do it without Dempsey. At this point, all that matters is the win and the U.S. will get no sympathy for who played, didn't play or who wasn't in form -- Dempsey included.
We'll have live coverage of the game in our USA vs. Jamaica StoryStream. For more on the United States, head over to U.S. soccer blog Stars and Stripes FC. For more on the entire world of soccer, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter. Check out our video preview of the match below.