On a date seared into the minds of Americans and many across the globe, our nation has a chance to come together today and root for our flag. The United States Men's National Team are facing Jamaica today (5 P.M. PDT, ESPN2) in Columbus, Ohio, and will fittingly be wearing their red and white striped "flag" jerseys. As 9/11 is now over a decade in the past, Bin Laden is gone, and the wars in the Middle East are winding down, the tributes and remembrances are taking on new meaning. But the pain is still there, as it always will be. Thousands of loved ones lost their lives; many more were scarred physically, emotionally, and mentally from that day.
The U.S. players feel privileged to play for their country on a day like this:
"It's a very patriotic day, especially here in Columbus in middle America," Bocanegra said. "It'll be a nice feeling. Hopefully, we can do our part to bring a little joy and pride to the country on Sept.11."
"It's such a sad and important time in our country's history," U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "Hopefully, that will spur us on and give us inspiration."
The fans will also be doing a tribute, as it has been reported that officials are handing out flags for fans to wave as they stand from the 9th to 11th minutes, and some first responders will be honored on the field prior to the game. It will certainly be a sight to see and will be emotional.
The game itself is more than unimportant. Fresh off a 2-1 defeat at "The Office," the U.S. has fallen into a tie for second place in group qualifying with three games left. The Reggae Boyz lead the group with 7 points, while the U.S. and Guatemala both have 4, and Antigua & Barbuda have 1. After this game, the U.S. plays at Antigua & Barbuda on Oct. 12, then Guatemala at home on Oct. 16th. A win puts the U.S. in strong position to move on to the hexagonal round; a loss puts them in a much more dangerous position. It is not a "must-win," but it is close.
Tactically, Klinsmann's lineup is pretty much anyone's guess (this story will be updated with lineups below). It's almost a lock that Tim Howard is in goal, Clint Dempsey will be on the field, and Carlos Bocanegra will be in the defense as the captain, but beyond that, nobody really knows. Clarence Goodson is suspended. Geoff Cameron could play as another DM, or could partner with Boca. Marice Edu has also played CB recently. Klinsmann has been fond of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones in the center recently, and is pretty much fond of DMs in general. (I also highly recommend this article by Matthew Doyle for Howler about the U.S.'s tactical history if you have not yet read it) Whatever lineup ends up on the field, here's to hoping it works.
U.S.: Howard; Cherundolo, Cameron, Bocanegra, Johnson; Zusi, Jones, Williams, Torres; Gomez, Dempsey.
Bench: Spector, Beckerman, Edu, Corona, Shea, Guzan, Parkhurst, Altidore, Boyd.
Jamaica: Miller; Nosworthy, Palmer, Watson, Austin; Talyor Morrison, Mariappa, Shelton; Cummings, Johnson.