Wednesday night’s friendly against Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz left fans here with mixed reactions.
On one hand, Philadelphia Union fans will rejoice after a very strong performance from Jamaica’s captain and man between the sticks, Andre Blake. On the other, the U.S. was less than convincing in a 1-0 loss after conceding a 60th minute goal to Shamar Nicholson.
Although not facing much of a challenge throughout the game, Blake consistently came off of his line to grab balls out of the air and went to ground to stop crosses from all sides. In the 88th minute the Blake that all Union fans love showed off his talent by keeping his Jamaica side’s 1-0 lead over the USMNT by making a fantastic effort by laying out and pushing U.S. stiker Josh Sargent’s shot wide right.
Downingtown native and former Union Academy/FC Delco goalkeeper Zack Steffen had an uneven start as he kept the over-shot lofted balls away from any goal-hungry Jamaican attackers but at the same time, however the now Manchester City loanee played a little too laid back and passed the ball away to a Jamaican attacker within his own 18-yard box that the U.S. were able to tidy up and get themselves out of a dangerous situation.
With the Gold Cup starting for the U.S on June 18, USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter saw this as a time to experiment; both in style of play and players on the field. Unfortunately, this hurt the young U.S. team as they played very lax; this was evident in the lack of pressure on the Jamaican defense from U.S. attackers, poor turnovers in the midfield, and careless mistakes that could’ve been prevented if they stayed on their toes just a bit more often.
Another local native, Daniel Lovitz, was brought on in the 80th minute and didn’t make a real difference in the last 10 minutes as a trailing USMNT continued to play without urgency, which left you wondering what will Berhalter do when the USMNT lineup to compete in their first Gold Cup match against Warren Creavalle and Guyana.