KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Vin Blaine believes the requisite quality exists in this Reggae Boyz squad to inflict a first defeat on the USA on their home soil, should they report in anything but their best form in their CONCACAF World Cup qualifier at Sporting Park here tomorrow evening.
Match time is 5:30 pm Jamaica time.
"I do believe that we have the players in our team that will be able to take advantage (of any let-up by the Americans)... and if you noticed the training session yesterday (Tuesday), the players were in that mood," assistant coach Blaine told the Jamaica Observer.
But USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a German like Jamaica's head coach Winfried Schafer, has selected a strong team for the match-up against Jamaica, who are the bottom of the six-nation CONCACAF play-offs with a mere four points.
The USA coach had said publicly that he intends to end the qualifying campaign on a high, indicating that Jamaica can expect no favours.
"We don't view these games as the end of World Cup qualifying. For us, it's the start of preparations for the World Cup, and therefore we have to continue to raise the bar. We have had such amazing support from our fans throughout the last two years, and we owe it to them to put our best foot forward," Klinsmann was quoted
With Jamaica caught between a rock and a hard place as their Brazil 2014 campaign dangles precariously, Blaine said his team will be focused from the first minute, thinking nothing of what's happening in
the match-up between
fellow strugglers Panama
and powerhouse Mexico at the Azteca.
"We are aware that we are in a difficult situation and we have to depend on other results to stand a chance to advance, but when we take the field on Friday (tomorrow) we will only be focused on what we have to do," he said.
In Tuesday's first full training session for the game, the Boyz appeared exceptionally sharp in training with strikers, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers looking in awesome form as they tried to catch the coach's attention.
"The training session was good as the players really looked lively and responded to what the coach wanted... what I can tell you is that he (Schafer) wants the forwards to be more involved in the game, so that training session was geared towards getting the forwards to hold up the ball and come toward the ball," noted Blaine.
The co-ordinator of women's football, Blaine, said the adrenaline in Tuesday's exhilarating and much-talked-about session is flowing from the fact that there's little pressure on the players.
"I don't think the players have put any pressure on themselves and they know the job at hand and they know what they have to do," he said.
With another training session due for last evening, Portland Timbers defender Alvas Powell was expected to join his teammates, being the last player to complete the 23-man squad.
Meanwhile, Blaine is not convinced that the USA will come out with all guns blazing tomorrow, and he has based his argument on psychological reasoning, claiming that it's difficult to see the Americans going all out knowing they have already booked their spot to Brazil 2014 with their 16 points earned with two matches still to be played.
"I really don't think the USA are going to come and play us hard knowing that they already qualified for the World Cup. I don't think they will come and play with the same intensity as if they were trying to qualify... the players, I believe, will not want to risk injuries as they want to be in the World Cup, plus they wouldn't want to go back to their clubs with injuries," said the former Harbour View coach yesterday.
"The training for the next couple of days will be pretty much more of what we did yesterday. On Thursday (today) the coach may decide to use a full field with a two-team match just to give him a closer look at the players to give him a better view to select his team," Blaine said.
Schafer, in response to Tuesday's electrifying session, said "everybody has got to work hard. It's now to pick the right team."
There are those who believe that the coach should consider as many MLS players as possible as they would be accustomed to the climate and would be familiar with some of the USA players. It is not, however, believed that Schafer's final 11 will be hinged on those factors.
"I don't believe that the coach will select his starting team on the basis that players who play in the MLS or not, I think he will select the team based on what people are doing in training," he said.
Meanwhile, Honduras host Costa Rica in San Pedro Sula, while Mexico and Panama clash at high-altitude Azteca in Mexico City on tomorrow.
Along with the USA on 16 points, Costa Rica (on 15 points) have also booked their Brazil 2014 World Cup spot. Honduras follow in the race with 11 points and are on the verge of clinching the third automatic qualifying spot.
Jamaica will close out their Brazil 2014 campaign next Tuesday in a home game against Honduras.
The top three teams will qualify directly for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Finals, while the fourth-placed team will play a home-and-away series against New Zealand, the winner of Oceania.
Jamaica squad — DuWayne Kerr, Daniel Gordon, Lloyd Doyley, Marvin Elliott, Jermaine Johnson, Ryan Johnson, Joel McAnuff, Darren Mattocks, Theo Robinson, Shaun Cummings, Jermaine Taylor, Westley Morgan, Alvas Powell, Adrian Mariappa, Je-Vaughn Watson, Rodolph Austin, Demar Phillips, Deshorn Brown, Richard McCallum, Gariece McPherson, Jermaine Anderson, Romario Campbell, Kemar Lawrence.