The U.S. Men's Soccer Team is set to begin a crucial stretch of World Cup qualifying matches with a game against host Jamaica Friday night in Kingston (9:30pm EDT).
In Jamaica, the United States will be facing an opponent that desperately needs a victory. The Jamaicans fell at home to Mexico Tuesday night, 1-0, and find themselves winless and in last place in the six-team North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) qualifying group with only two points after four matches.
The six teams in the final group play home-and-away series against one another, and after facing the U.S. Soccer Team, Jamaica only plays one of its final four games at home.
Mexico, which had played to draws in its first three contests, takes over first place in the group with six points. Panama, in second with five points, hosts Mexico Friday (10pm EDT), while Costa Rica hosts Honduras (10pm EDT). The U.S., Costa Rica and Honduras all have four points and are tied for third place.
Three teams from the group will earn automatic places at next year's World Cup in Brazil, with the fourth place team advancing to a playoff for a berth against Oceania zone winner New Zealand.
To prepare for their three World Cup qualifiers this month, the U.S. team played home friendlies against two top European teams, 12th ranked Belgium and second ranked Germany. The Americans fell to Belgium last week, 4-2, but rebounded to score an impressive 4-3 win over Germany this past Sunday here in Washington.
That should give them a confidence boost for Jamaica, and U.S. midfielder Clarence Goodson said they are familiar with the Jamaicans' style of play.
"I think it's going to be a team that very much relies on their speed, tries to get behind people, and when they're not capable of doing that I think they fall short of extra ideas," he said.
U.S. midfielder Brad Davis said a positive performance can set the stage, "For us, if we win this game we're sitting in a good position with two more games coming up back home in the States."
"So coming off a great win against Germany, we want to put our best foot forward here in Jamaica and head home in front of our fans and really put three great games together and come away with nine points from these three qualifiers," he said.
Next Tuesday, the U.S. Soccer Team will host Panama in Seattle, Washington, and on June 18 will play Honduras in Sandy, Utah, outside Salt Lake City.