Gregg Berhalter used Wednesday night's friendly against Jamaica at Audi Field as the final showcase for a couple of fringe players for the Gold Cup, as the USA lost 1-0 to the Reggae Boyz. Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Weston McKennie were all excluded from the game-day roster, as Berhalter sent out his side in a 3-4-2-1 formation.
Substitute Shamar Nicholson scored a screamer in the second half for Jamaica, who were the better side for much of the night in Washington, D.C.
With rosters for the Gold Cup due just hours after the conclusion of the game, Berhalter gave several players a chance to shine. With Zack Steffen in goal, the three-man back line was comprised of Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, and Omar Gonzalez. Paul Arriola and Antonee Robinson were the outside backs, with Wil Trapp and Jackson Yueill filling the midfield spots.
Josh Sargent was the lone striker up top and was supported underneath by Cristian Roldan and Djordje Mihailovic, giving the starting lineup a heavy MLS influence.
The change in formation and unfamiliarity of the group caused a disjointed performance for the U.S. in the first half. Jamaica outshot the hosts by a margin of 8-2, with the U.S. not really troubling Jamaica keeper Andre Blake.
At the other end, a loose pass from Steffen resulted in a turnover in his own box, but the U.S. was quick to react to prevent an easy goal for Jamaica. The best chance of the half came in the 37th minute when forward Dever Orgill headed just over the goal for Jamaica.
A series of inexcusable turnovers from the U.S. in their own half gave Jamaica several scoring opportunities early in the second half. The third of these turnovers, from Roldan, resulted in Nicholson's thunderbolt goal in the 60th minute.
There was little that Steffen could do, as Nicholson wasn't closed down quickly enough outside the box, allowing the striker to open the scoring in style.
The goal woke the U.S. up a bit, with Sargent, who was mostly neutralized throughout the night, putting an effort wide of the goal in the 71st minute after a feed from Duane Holmes. Berhalter emptied out much of his bench before the 80th minute, as the U.S. eventually moved away from the 3-4-2-1 to a 4-2-3-1.
Sargent had a chance late on to get an equalizer, knocking down a delivery in the box in the 88th minute. A quick turn and shot was destined for the bottom corner, but Blake dove across to push the shot out for a corner.
The U.S. will have one more chance to prep for the Gold Cup when they play on Sunday against Venezuela at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.