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What went wrong for the USA against Jamaica?

For the first time since 2003, the USMNT will not appear in the final of the Gold Cup after an extremely disappointing semi-final defeat against Jamaica.

The USMNT lost in extremely disappointing fashion against Jamaica in a Gold Cup semi-final.
The USMNT lost in extremely disappointing fashion against Jamaica in a Gold Cup semi-final.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Well, that was a disaster.

Nobody expected the US Men's National Team to fall to a Caribbean opponent that had beaten them just once out of 22 matches, but it happened.

It happened just like Jamaica manager Winfried Schaefer's David vs. Goliath analogy predicted, as the Reggae Boyz, fresh off a couple surprisingly-close losses to top-level South American teams in the Copa Amèrica, defeated the home side 2-1 with the winner scored by Houston Dynamo's own Giles Barnes.

It was a very forgettable match for the US that eerily draws back memories to the 2011 Gold Cup in which the USA fell to Mexico 4-2 in the final, after which then-coach Bob Bradley was fired.

The same fate most likely will not be given to current manager Jürgen Klinsmann, as his job security relies on his success of October's match against Jamaica/Panama/Mexico that they need to win in order to qualify for the 2017 Confederation's Cup. But even so, it is a match that the US never should have lost, and the reasons for the defeat are pretty clear.

A ton of key factors played into the defeat. Not one in particular was the main reason, so here are three of them (for the sake of time), not listed in any order:

1. Jürgen's tactical decisions should've been better

Players like to have continuity. It helps them pass better, work well together, and ultimately provides them with what they need to succeed.

So changing formations seemingly every match is not the best formula. Unfortunately, nobody told that to Klinsmann, because he decided to go with a brand new formation for the all-important knockout round match.

The 4-2-3-1 put midfielders Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman together in front of the defense, presumably trying to do what the USWNT did in the Women's World Cup, putting Carli Lloyd with Morgan Brian as central midfielders to utilize the latter's defense and allow the former to play more of an offensive role.

It seems like a solid strategy right? I mean, it clearly worked pretty well for the women. Beckerman is a good enough defender that Bradley can move forward and produce like Lloyd did (or at least try to; I don't think anybody will produce like she did again).

But Klinsmann forgot to account for Jamaica's speed and the fact that his 33-year old defensive midfielder isn't exactly known for his pace. The result was not pretty for the Americans, as multiple fouls by the RSL star in a dangerous area were one of the many less-than-ideal repercussions from having to chase after attackers. Without a secure defensive-mid behind him, Bradley couldn't go forward, taking away the USMNT's only player that somewhat qualifies as a playmaker.

Beckerman was caught by the Reggae Boyz's speediness too many times, but this could have been avoided had Klinsmann stuck with his most-used formation, the 4-4-2 diamond that puts Bradley up top right behind the two forwards.

One more thought on the strategic decisions of the manager: He should have started Omar Gonzalez at center-back. Ventura Alvarado made a bad mistake on the first goal and liked to push up the field way more than a central defender ever should, plus he and John Brooks had no chemistry whatsoever.

2. Brad Guzan has a rough day at the office

Don't get me wrong: I'm not expecting Brad Guzan to make saves on either of the two goals that were scored.

But the second could have been prevented before Barnes ever took the free-kick.

Guzan had the ball in his hands and was ready to start a counter attack from one of his signature sling-shot throws. But he made the mistake of bring his hand, still holding the ball, outside the 18-yard box, resulting in a free-kick from just beyond the box.

It was a good call by the referee, despite being an unusual one. Guzan can't make those kinds of mistakes if he wants to retain his starting job when World Cup hero Tim Howard returns from his sabbatical.

If this were a winners and losers article, he would be a loser.

3. Gyasi Zardes (and Clint Dempsey) becomes a ghost

One of the main reasons for the lack of sufficient offense from the red, white and blue was the absence of a right winger.

Well, technically Gyasi Zardes was there as one, but you wouldn't have known that while watching the game, despite his glamorous (and very recognizable) blonde mohawk.

He might as well have been back in LA with Steven Gerrard, because he didn't do anything of significance at all against Jamaica.

Zardes barely saw the ball, and when he did not much came of it. He had two solid chances inside in the box, but skied both shots.

He was inactive down the wing, and while making runs on the outside and through the channels aren't his strengths, those are things he should have been able to do. It would have opened up the field a lot more for the hosts, and maybe could've resulted in a goal that didn't come from goalkeeper Ryan Thompson (of the USL's Pittsburgh Riverhounds) fumbling a ball right to an American.

But, you know, coulda, shoulda, woulda. Those three words some up the entire Gold Cup for the USA.