Jamaica 2 USA 1: Two steps forward one step back

Expectations for teams grow with success. At one point, team USA was simply proud to be in the competition, win or lose. Eventually, it grew to the point where wins were more common than losses and losses were viewed as learning experience. Now, we have reached a point where losses are viewed as learning experiences and significant disappointments.

The loss to Jamaica is a learning experience for the team. But it is also a huge disappointment because it was a game the team should have won: they dominated possession and put the shots on goal.

Instead, they suffered a high profile defeat due to a lapse in concentration by the goalie in how he handled the ball that set up the second goal from a free kick. It will be argued that the central defenders were not marking properly on the set piece leading to the first goal. And finally, on offense, the USA had its chances but close doesn't count as the ball has to go into the net. What separates the top level teams from the wannabes is cashing in those opportunities and being able to bounce back from the occasional howler. Thus, objectively, the USA remain wannabes on the world stage.

Of course, some fans are on the ledge calling for Coach Klinsmann to be sacked. The adage in sports is don't get too high or too low. Indeed, a high profile loss but on balance the team is making progress.

Jason Davis at ESPNFC offers up a top-10 list of bad losses by team USA and rank this Gold Cup loss as #2.

I've only been actively following the USMNT since 2010 so many of these losses were not familiar to me. I do recall watching the loss to Ghana in the 2010 World Cup. I don't remember if experts were expecting the USA to win that game. But as a novice viewer, at that time, I did not get the sense the USA was the "better" team just failing to cash in opportunities. To my untrained eye, it looked like an even match. Looking on the internet for game stats, it looked like an even match.

In any event, Klinsmann will continue to try to find the right combination of veterans and younger talent to put on the field. If there wasn't such a good crop of younger players developing, the future of team USA would be in question. As it is, the potential is all there and the challenge is to realize that potential and in particular in high profile matches. That didn't happen against Jamaica and the team and the coach will take some heat for the defeat and rightly so.