Matt Miazga's US U-20 team is no longer favorite to win its group in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship and progress to the tournament final, but it is still expected to secure qualification for the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
To do that, the team cannot afford any further slip-ups in a campaign which has delivered just one win in three games played to date - and that win came against Aruba, the team apparently destined to lose each and every match it plays in this competition. Former Red Bull Amando Moreno scored his first goal of the tournament against Aruba.
The New York Red Bulls' young center back, Miazga, was rested for the Aruba match. If he returns to the starting lineup for this game against Jamaica, it will suggest his absence against Aruba was merely down to coach Tab Ramos letting second-stringers get minutes against the weakest opponent his team will face in this tournament. If Miazga stays out of the lineup, the implications are more troubling for him.
The young Americans are favorites to win this match, not just because they are favorites to win every match in their group, but also due to Jamaica's lamentable form - the Reggae Boyz have one point from their three games played to date.
The host nation has injury problems (D.C. United's Michael Seaton is out for the rest of the tournament) and has not scored a goal since its opening game. If Miazga starts in defense for the US, he will be part of the unit expected to prolong Jamaica's scoreless streak, and allow Tab Ramos to breathe a little easier as he plots his team's path to a summer in New Zealand.
CONCACAF U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP
USA vs Jamaica
Date: 18 January 2015
Start: 8:00 pm (Eastern)
Venue: Montego Bay Sports Complex, Montego Bay, Jamaica
TV: Fox Sports 2 (FS2), Univision Deportes Network (UDN)
Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go