Jamaica should be wary of US – Ralph
As Jamaica looks towards the final round of the World Cup qualifiers, former national striker-turned-agent Damani Ralph says that the Reggae Boyz will have to be wary of the United States and their emerging young talent.
Jamaica will begin the final round of the qualifiers in September with five of the first seven games on the road, including their opening fixture against Mexico and the United States in October. Additionally, the Reggae Boyz will have to play three times in the same international window, except for the month of November.
The US failed to qualifier for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but since then they have seen an increase in the number of young players plying their trade in some of the top leagues in Europe. Ralph has credited the work that US head coach Greg Berhalter has done in giving the youngers their opportunities and believes that their young corps will pose challenges.
Young quality players
"The US has a golden generation that is coming through right now. They have young quality players playing in top leagues in Europe, and not just playing, but starting and [being] impact players. How does that translate into the overall set-up on a national team level? We don't know as yet," Ralph told STAR Sports. "But the talent is there and is going to be there for a long time."
Among the country's promising players are Giovanni Reyna of Borussia Dortmund, Sergino Dest of Barcelona, Tyler Adams of RB Lepizig, Weston McKennie of Juventus and Christian Pulisic of Chelsea. Adams helped his team to the last season's Champions League semi-finals, and Pulisic finished his first English Premier League season with nine goals and six assists, and also helped his team to last year's FA Cup final.
However, Ralph says that the US is not the only threat to Jamaica returning to the World Cup for the first time in over 20 years.
"Jamaica doesn't only need to be wary of the US, because there is Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama. We have our hands full. We just need to focus on ourselves at the moment," Ralph said. "I think we have a very good young crop of players that's coming through as well. And I think that what we saw in the last game against Saudi Arabia leaves a lot of optimism and excitement from our fans and our country."