Wednesday’s second CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final sees the renewal of an absorbing modern rivalry as the six-time winners the USA take on two-time runners-up Jamaica in Nashville Tennessee, and the home side are likely to start the game as strong favourites. 

A Modern Rivalry

Since their first meeting on a football field, in 1988, the USA and Jamaica have played 26 times, and the USA have had the better of the rivalry, winning 15 and drawing 8. But there are signs that the gap between the two football nations is closing. 

Jamaica have won two of their last four meetings, including a friendly last month, and the last two Gold Cup tournaments have pitted the two nations against one another in the knock-out stages. In 2015, Jamaica pulled off a major victory, winning 2-1 in the semi-final, and in 2017, they also pushed the USA close in a quarter-final match-up, eventually losing 2-1. 

Stuttering States

With home advantage, the USA are tipped to dominate this game and are as short as 1/2 with some bookmakers. That also reflects the fact that Gregg Berhalter’s side emerged from their Group with three wins from three, and three clean sheets. In fact, they haven’t conceded a goal all tournament, having beaten lowly Curacao in their quarter-final. 

But their performances so far have not been as impressive as the stats suggest. They were made to work hard by Curacao, who played largely on the counter, and Berhalter has yet to fully ingrain his tactics, leading to some positional uncertainty among his players. 

Resilient Jamaica

Jamaica’s Group record wasn’t quite as impressive. They scraped past Honduras and were held to draws by El Salvador and Curacao. They also spent much of their quarter-final against Panama on the back foot, before clinching the game with a late penalty. But they are a solid, well-organised side, with goal-threats in the form of Leon Bailey and Shamar Nicholson, and they won’t have any problem coping with the pressure of a semi-final. 

Goals at a Premium

The USA will hope that their young star Christian Pulisic can unlock the Jamaican defence, while Jamaica will hope to catch the home team on the break in what promises to be an absorbing tactical battle, where one goal could be enough to settle it. 

Published by Andie Hughes

Based in England, Andie Hughes is a freelance betting writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. Andie has written for ESPN, Betfair, Sporting Life, and Boylesports, and can be contacted at andiehughes73@gmail.com.

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