Jamaica beats US 1-0, 2nd home loss vs Caribbean since ’69

<p>
              Jamaica forward Shamar Nicholson (11) celebrates his goal during the second half of the team's international friendly soccer match against the United States, Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Washington. Jamaica won 1-0. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
            </p>

WASHINGTON (AP) — Not much went right for the United States in its next-to-last prep match for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Jamaica dealt the U.S. just its second home defeat to a Caribbean nation in a half-century, beating the Americans 1-0 in an exhibition on Wednesday night that made coach Gregg Berhalter’s new-look team appear far from prepared for the fast-approaching tournament.

Shamar Nicholson took advantage of a giveaway by Christian Roldan to score from outside the penalty area in the 60th minute, five minutes after he entered the match.

“We lacked speed. We lacked aggression in the final third,” Berhalter said. “When the ball’s wide, there should be four guys in the penalty box and we only had two half the time.”

Without midfielders Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, the U.S. failed to generate much offense, and striker Josh Sargent squandered what chances he did have, including a point-blank shot that went wide in the 71st minute. The Americans had installed a new, alternate formation during just two days of training.

“Personnel affects formations and performance, for sure, but I think that we’d be selling these guys short if we didn’t say that they can still perform at a high level,” Berhalter said. “Today just wasn’t our day. It wasn’t our best.”

The question now is whether Berhalter’s team can find form in time for its Gold Cup opener on June 18, the Americans’ first competitive match since the October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago that ended the U.S. streak of seven World Cup appearances.

Since a 1969 defeat to Haiti at San Diego, the only U.S. home loss to a Caribbean team had been 2-1 to Jamaica in a 2015 Gold Cup semifinal at Atlanta. The Reggae Boyz beat the Americans for just the third time in 26 meetings, which have included 15 U.S. wins and eight draws.

Berhalter was hired in December and tasked with implementing a possession-oriented, attacking style. He started with three wins and a draw as he experimented with lineups.

Pusilic is scheduled to report to training camp on Thursday, three days before a friendly against Venezuela at Cincinnati. Adams is not due to arrive until next Tuesday.

McKennie (sprained left ankle) and Gyasi Zardes (bruised left foot sustained during training Tuesday) did not dress along with forward Jozy Altidore, who arrived Sunday and has not played for the national team since the loss at Trinidad.

Berhalter said Sebastian Lletget will not be on the 23-man Gold Cup roster, which will be announced Thursday. The midfielder hurt his left hamstring playing for LA Galaxy on Sunday.

“We’re going to miss him,” Berhalter said. “He was important to this group from a versatility standpoint, and these things happen to players and it’s never nice.”

Nicholson, who debuted against the U.S. in February 2017, got his first international goal when he beat goalkeeper Zack Steffen from 22 yards after Roldan’s giveaway, taking advantage of Wil Trapp’s inability to pressure him.

“There were some bright spots in the first half in particular, but overall we started to lose a little bit of structure and continuity as the game went on,” Trapp said. “In the final third we were just a little anemic at times with the speed of play and the quality of chances we were creating.”

Steffen appears the likely Gold Cup starter after Brad Guzan was not invited to training camp.

“I think our spacing was a little off when we had the ball,” Steffen said. “There could have been a little more communication to help our press and do a little bit less running. I think there was a lot of running and we looked a little tired.”

Jackson Yueill, a 22-year-old midfielder who is not eligible for the Gold Cup, started in his U.S. debut. Duane Holmes, a 24-year-old midfielder, made his debut in the 66th minute.

Joe Gyau, a 26-year-old forward from Silver Spring, Maryland, entered in the 67th in his third international appearance and first since 2014.

Berhalter started a three-man back line that included Matt Miazga on the right, Omar Gonzalez in the center and Tim Ream on the left.

Antonee Robinson, making his seventh U.S. appearance, was active on the left. His clean header missed high after a Jamaica giveaway in the 43rd minute.

Djordje Mihailovic had the last chance for the U.S., a breakaway in stoppage time, but he took a poor touch and was unable to get off much of a shot. Jamaica outshot the Americans 13-5, including a 5-1 advantage in shots on target.

The U.S. drew 17,719 for its first match at Audi Field after playing 24 games at RFK Stadium, the Americans’ most at any venue.

“D.C. has always been great to the national team,” Berhalter said. “The guys tried. I think we gave a decent effort. We didn’t play well, and you’re going to have nights when you don’t play well.”