Having already qualified for the World Cup during the last set of international matches, the United States threw out a bit of an experimental team on Friday night against Jamaica. Unsurprisingly, without some of their best players and without anything to play for but pride, the USMNT looked flat. However, they started to play well late in the second half and recorded a fairly easy 2-0 win over Jamaica, who have been eliminated from World Cup contention.
A dull first half with few chances for either team led Jurgen Klinsmann to make a halftime substitution. Landon Donovan, who was average in the first half and has recently battled an ankle injury, was subbed off for hometown hero Graham Zusi. Whether it was because he was healthier, more motivated or some combination of the two, Zusi was much more effective than Donovan.
Still, the game was a slow one, devoid of chances until Klinsmann made a couple of other changes. Edgar Castillo replaced DaMarcus Beasley in a like-for-like switch of attack-minded left backs, while Sacha Kljestan came on for Aron Johannsson, who was lively in his first start for the U.S., moving Mikkel Diskerud to a more advanced role. All three substitutes played well from the introduction of Kljestan on, while Diskerud was more effective after the change, as well.
Zusi's opener came in the 77th minute on a well-placed finish from 15 yards. Alejandro Bedoya set it up, cutting the ball back from the right flank. Castillo set up Jozy Altidore for a goal four minutes later with an excellent cross from the left flank at the end of one of his many effective ventures forward.
The U.S. now heads to Panama for what could be a tough test against a team that will have a lot to play for, regardless of the result of their game against Mexico later Friday night.
United States: Howard, Evans, Cameron, Besler, Beasley (Castillo 66'), Bedoya, Diskerud, Jones, Donovan (Zusi 46'), Johannsson (Kljestan 72'), Altidore
Goals: Zusi (77'), Altidore (81')
Jamaica: Kerr, Doyley, Morgan, Mariappa, Phillips, McAnuff, Austin, Watson, Johnson (Anderson 85'), Mattocks (Robinson 73'), Brown