96th minute Jamaica own goal saves Gregg Berhalter’s job in nervy USMNT win

A casual soccer fan checking the score of the United States men’s national team’s Concacaf Nations League semifinal vs. Jamaica will see the 3-1 final score and assume it was a business-as-usual victory.

It was anything but. 

The USMNT only secured the victory thanks to a Jamaica own goal in the final seconds of regulation to send the game to extra time. Gregg Berhalter’s job was dangling by a rope the size of a mosquito’s leg.

A Miles Robinson header and subsequent deflection off Cory Burke’s cranium was Berhalter’s savior.

USMNT goal vs Jamaica at the death

That close to one of the most embarrassing defeats in recent USMNT history.

Jamaica came into Thursday’s game with many starters and stars out for a variety of reasons. Most notably Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey missed out as he’s boycotting the national team until conditions get better.

Thursday’s game should’ve been a simple victory for Berhalter and his side, but they looked half asleep. Starting right back Joe Scally was caught napping at the back post in the opening minute as Jamaica stunned all 12 people inside AT&T Stadium and took the lead.

Tickets were sold as a doubleheader for the U.S. game and the following Mexico-Panama game which the Mexican fans showed out for leaving the U.S. to play in front of minimal fans.

The USMNT looked flat, uninspired and out of ideas for about 90 minutes. The USMNT's two best chances in the first half were wasted.

Berhalter hooked Scally for Gio Reyna at halftime and moved McKennie to right back.

Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake faced few serious chances up until the own goal.

In the 63rd minute Berhalter threw the kitchen sink at Jamaica bringing on Haji Wright, Ricardo Pepi and Tyler Adams. Still, the U.S. failed to click in the final third for ensuing 30 minutes.

Credit does need to go to Jamaica for a stellar display of parking the bus and frustrating the USMNT.

The Wright and Reyna connection finally started to shine in extra time as Reyna twice assisted Wright to give the USMNT the win.

March’s famous saying of “survive and advance” crossed into the soccer-sphere as Berhalter will be thanking his lucky stars that the USMNT booked a spot in the Nations League final on Sunday.

If Berhalter wants to win back any faith in him and his side then they must lift the trophy. No excuses.

Editor’s note: I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. For those who don’t know we writers will be working on our story as the game progresses.

I had about eight paragraphs of a “BERHALTER OUT” story written before Jamaica’s own goal. You all deserve to read it.

Here you go:

The dictionary doesn’t contain a word negative enough to accurately describe how awful the United States men’s national team played in Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Jamaica in the Concacaf Nations League semifinal.

This wasn’t Jamaica’s A-team with a litany of usual starters and biggest stars not competing in the game. On paper this was a walk in the park for the USMNT, but Gregg Berhalter’s uninspired, slapdash side pitifully crumbled in front of an empty AT&T Stadium.

Thursday’s nightmare saw the Reggae Boyz score in the first 40 seconds. The USMNT still looked half asleep as Joe Scally lost his man at the back post and Matt Turner couldn’t keep out Greg Leigh’s close-range effort.

USMNT fans then had to watch a 90-minute train wreck of tactics and offense. Jamaica dropped the entire team back and watched as the U.S. passed around the box and sent in fruitless crosses over and over and OVER again.

It didn’t look like there was any game plan whatsoever with the U.S. hardly troubling Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.

The best chances for the USMNT came in the first half but the final pass and finish was always missing.

At halftime Berhalter decided to hook Scally. With Sergiño Dest serving a red card suspension there was no right back available. Instead, Weston McKennie played right back for the second half. His creativity in the midfield was missed but honestly, we’re not sure it would have made a difference.

Berhalter then threw the kitchen sink at (it was at this moment the USMNT equalized).

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