USMNT Should Have A Field Day In Austin As Jamaica’s Best Player Pulls Out Of World Cup Qualifying

Anything less than a victory will be unacceptable.

The Reggae Boyz knew they would be without some of the big names like Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), Michael Hector (Fulham), Amari’i Bell (Luton Town) and Cory Burke (Philadelphia Union) heading into the second window of Concacaf World Cup qualifying. However, another bombshell was dropped on Wednesday when Michail Antonio, the Premier League’s third highest goal scorer this season, announced he was withdrawing from Jamaica’s next three games.

Michail Antonio Pulls Out Of Jamaica's Next Three Games

Antonio recently made his international for debut Jamaica in September after a long wait for his passport that saw him miss the 2021 Gold Cup. The West Ham striker was born in England but has ties to Jamaica that allow him to play for the Reggae Boyz. 

He initially wanted to represent England, but after never making an appearance for the Three Lions he decided he wanted to help Jamaica reach the 2022 World Cup.

This decision hasn’t paid off for Antonio just yet as the first window saw him barred from playing in Mexico and Jamaica (two countries on the UK’s red list). The only game he saw in action in was Jamaica’s 3-0 defeat at home to Panama where Antonio featured for 70 minutes with minimal impact.

When Antonio returned to West Ham from the international break, he looked tired and sluggish. David Moyes, West Ham’s manager, will be delighted to know that Antonio won’t be traveling thousands of miles to play in Texas, Jamaica and Honduras before trying to return to a busy club schedule.

Antonio said he is still dedicated to Jamaica despite pulling out of the next three games.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week,” he said. “Myself, West Ham United and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

How Does The USMNT Look?

The USMNT also faces some challenges as several big names are missing. Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna were absent from head coach Gregg Berhalter’s latest roster as the two are still recovering from injuries. John Brooks won't feature in the three upcoming games either as he is dealing with a back injury.

The good news is that the U.S. didn’t need Pulisic, Reyna and Brooks to defeat Jamaica in the Gold Cup in July. Of the 15 Jamaican players that featured in the quarterfinal against the USMNT, 13 are on roster for the latest qualifying window.

A boosted USMNT roster with the likes of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, Sergiño Dest, Ricardo Pepi and Brenden Aaronson (all of whom didn’t play against Jamaica last time) should be able to easily handle Thursday’s match. 

Anything short of victory will be an absolute disaster for Berhalter and the USMNT. 

USMNT vs. Jamaica Prediction

U.S. wins 3-1

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