Men’s Soccer: USA vs Jamaica Gold Cup Semi-Final Preview, Picks & Betting Predictions

Weston McKennie: USMNT vs Jamaica PredictionsUSMNT are one step away from the 2019 Gold Cup final, with Jamaica next up in the final four at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN on Wednesday (9pm ET, live on FS1 / Unimas).

Team USA have already faced a slew of Caribbean sides en route to the semi-finals. They easily saw off Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago during the group stage. They then had a slightly less comfortable time of it against Curacao in their quarter-final on Sunday.

Gregg Berhalter’s side made a decent start. Christian Pulisic forced an early save from the Curacao goalkeeper and he then turned provider as they took the lead on 25 minutes. A neat team move saw him released down the left, and after cutting inside, he measured a cross to the far post that was headed home by the fast-arriving Weston McKennie.

It would also be fair to say that Curacao held their own during the opening 45 minutes, and had a couple of decent looks of their own. After the break, the United States struggled to move the ball or put together dangerous counter-attacks, while Curacao pushed men forward without always creating an end product. Zack Steffen was, though, forced to make a couple of solid saves, and at the end of the match the shot count read: 10 for the US; 13 for Curacao.

The result was the most important thing, as Berhalter was quick to emphasize in his post-match press conference. It sent USMNT through to the final four for a 10th consecutive Gold Cup, but to be outshot by a team ranked outside the top 100 in the world (at least by the ELO ratings system), even after taking an early lead, was not a particularly impressive outcome. There is still clearly much for Berhalter to work on.

While it is easy to see the hallmarks of the possession-based style the former Columbus Crew coach wants to implement, the execution isn’t there yet. The U.S. are too passive out of possession and aren’t always generating the angles and movements they need to in attack. In personnel terms, there seem to be a few cases of square pegs in round holes, although the return of players who missed this tournament through injury should partially alleviate that.

All of which is to say that even though the US have so far progressed through the Gold Cup with four wins from four without once conceding, there are some weaknesses there for competent teams to take advantage of. Jamaica probably fall into that category.

The Reggae Boyz are ranked the 63rd best team in the world by the ELO ratings system and come into Wednesday’s match on the back of topping their group, with a win and two draws, and then seeing off Panama in a tight quarter-final. A 75th-minute penalty from Darren Mattocks was the eventual difference between the sides, as Jamaica won 1-0.

There are plenty of familiar faces within a squad that contains 13 players who currently ply their trade at various levels in the USA. Theodore Whitmore’s side generally keep matches pretty tight, as demonstrated by the fact that only one of their seven internationals this calendar year has seen a winning margin, for or against, of more than one goal.

America are fully aware of Jamaica’s approach and qualities because the two teams faced off in a pre-tournament friendly in Washington, D.C. at the start of June. Shamar Nicholson scored the only goal of the contest, as Jamaica emerged as 1-0 victors against a relatively understrength US starting XI that featured just three players who have been part of the first-choice lineup at the Gold Cup itself.

The teams have also met towards the business end of each of the last two CONCACAF Gold Cups. Two years ago, the United States defeated Jamaica 2-1 in the final to lift the trophy. In 2015, Jamaica knocked out the US at the semi-final stage with a victory by the same scoreline. Overall, their last eight encounters have yielded three wins for Jamaica and five for the US, but again, only one of those matches was settled by a margin of more than a single goal.

All of which is to say that with the US slightly overrated on the win market, there is some solid value to be found in backing Jamaica on an Asian Handicap.

Our Preview’s USMNT vs Jamaica Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict

  • Bet on Jamaica +1 goal on the spread @ best odds of +105 with Bovada.