Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) – Giles Barnes struck for the first-half winner on Wednesday as the United States crashed out of the Gold Cup in the semifinals thanks to a 2-1 upset at the hands of Jamaica at the Georgia Dome.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s men came into the semifinal round riding a nice wave of confidence following a 6-0 drubbing of Cuba last week, but a moment of poor defending, followed by an excellent free kick was too much for the Americans to overcome.
The U.S. started brightly in the opening minutes of the half, but the Jamaicans hit for the opening goal in the 31st minute when New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence launched a long throw-in into the penalty area.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Darren Mattocks got his head to the ball, despite being surrounded by U.S. defenders, and nodded it into the top right corner, past the diving Brad Guzan.
The Reggae Boys doubled the lead six minutes later, but not without a bit of controversy.
Referee Ricardo Montero whistled Guzan for handling the ball outside of the penalty area, awarding Jamaica a free kick right on the edge of the box.
Barnes, the Houston Dynamo man, lined up the free kick and blasted it past Guzan to double the lead, stunning the crowd at the Georgia Dome.
Klinsmann’s side went into the break down by two needing to regroup, and things looked to be back on track just three minutes into the second half when Aron Johannsson ripped one on frame from distance.
Jamaica goalkeeper Ryan Thompson spilled the shot, and U.S. captain Michael Bradley was there to slam home the rebound.
The goal gave the U.S. life and it continued to create quality scoring chances throughout the second half.
Klinsmann looked to take advantage of the pressure by sending Alan Gordon onto the field for Johannsson in the 73rd minute, while also adding DeAndre Yedlin to the mix to add some pace down the flanks.
But as the clock reached 90 minutes, the U.S. seemed to run out of ideas in the attacking third as the Americans continued to send long balls into the box hoping for a knock-down second ball or a defensive mistake.
The Jamaican defense held out through three minutes of added time to move on to the Gold Cup final for the first time in team history.
Jamaica will play either Mexico or Panama in the final at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday, while the U.S. is relegated to the third- place game at PPL Park on Saturday.