Shamar Nicholson celebrates his goal against the United States in the second. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – For only the second time in several decades, the U.S. men’s national team has lost to Jamaica.
The Americans dropped a 1-0 result to the Reggae Boyz in their first visit to Audi Field in the nation’s capital Wednesday night.
The Jamaicans’ other win on U.S. soil against the host team was in the semifinals of the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup, a major upset.
The USMNT moved to 3-1-1 under head coach Gregg Berhalter. In 26 all-time matches, the USA leads Jamaica, 15-3-8. The U.S. holds a 12-2-3 advantage on home soil.
The Americans began with a strong opening 10 minutes in which they created their best opportunity of the half when Paul Arriola got around the corner of the Jamaica defense and served in a dangerous cross that Josh Sargent got his head on, but the ball skirted just wide of the back left post.
At the other end, goalkeeper Zack Steffen recovered from an early slip to make a pair of saves and cut out some probing crosses in a solid display that helped steady the U.S. defense when Jamaica’s speed unsettled the back line.
Steffen continued his impressive play early in the second half, making a strong save to deny a transition opportunity. However, there was nothing the Europe-bound goalkeeper could do on the hour mark when Shamar Nicholson created space for himself near the top right corner of the U.S. penalty area before arching a powerful drive across the goal frame and into the top left corner.
After Berhalter began using his substitutions on the night, the U.S. found better offensive footing as the introduction of wingers Jonathan Amon and Joe Gyau as well as central midfielder Duane Holmes, making his international debut, added speedy legs out wide and some sand paper in the middle of the pitch. The fresh faces helped create a flurry of opportunities around the 75-minute mark, the best of which fell to Sargent, but his shot from the right side of the box skewed wide.
Sargent was stifled a final time in the waning moments of the match when he corralled a long-range shot and put one of his own on target, but Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake got a hand down just in time to turn the ball outside the right post and preserve the 1-0 result for the visitors.
The USA’s official roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup will be announced Thursday morning before the USMNT continues its march toward the regional crown against Venezuela on Sundayat 2 p.m. ET at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.