Aside from the badges on the jerseys, US men's national team defender Tim Ream expects few similarities between Wednesday night’s Gold Cup semifinal against Jamaica at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium (9:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN) and the teams’ friendly last month.

Back in June at Audi Field in Washington, Jamaica beat the US 1-0 behind Shamar Nicholson’s goal from distance in a tournament tuneup for both sides. Although it was a decidedly poor US performance even considering the circumstances — “slow and methodical” as Ream puts it — there were also some contributing factors, he said.

“It’s a very different feel now,” Ream said. “We had a lot of guys trying to get up to speed fitness-wise, guys coming from Europe who had been off 2-3 weeks and had been out of season, and then you bring in the guys who had been playing in MLS and only had like 1-2 days training with the team, so it was a bit of a mixed team really, with some of the young guys who were at the camp in Annapolis getting some good minutes.”

Ream and D.C. United’s Paul Arriola were the only two starters from that match who went on to be in coach Gregg Berhalter’s preferred starting XI for two of the last three Gold Cup games, including their 1-0 quarterfinal win over Curacao.

And although the US went on to concede three goals in their final pre-tournament friendly against Venezuela, they haven’t allowed a goal since in four Gold Cup matches.

That’s a definitive sign of improvement, but not a finished product, says San Jose Earthquakes defender Nick Lima.


“We’ve had some moments where we’ve got to go back and look on it — our communication — and continue to improve,” Lima said. “This is the semis, it’s the next stage. It’s one game away from the finals, but we’re continuing to grow, and that’s what we plan to do in this next game, and be even more of a force. And that’s the goal, another shutout.”

For Ream, more informative than that previous match against The Reggae Boyz has been the way they've played during its own four-game tournament run. Particularly their penchant for strong starts, having scored two of their five tournament goals inside the opening 15 minutes and three before halftime.

“They’ve shown over the tournament that they start out games really, really fast,” Ream said. “And that’s something that’s probably a little bit hard to sustain in the temperatures that we’re playing in and the conditions. For us, we’re expecting a fast, physical game as you always get with a team like Jamaica. They’ll be very quick on counterattacks and transitions, and that’s something that we’ll definitely have to be aware of.”