It's been an eventful first half, but there are still no goals to speak of here at RFK Stadium as the U.S. and Jamaica hit halftime of their Gold Cup quarterfinal match-up.
Jamaica have only themselves to blame for not being ahead, however, as they wasted the best opportunity of the match in the 4th minute. Dane Richards, in acres of space down Jamaica's right wing, played a ball that was deflected and landed right at the feet of Ryan Johnson, who was all alone five yards out from goal. Tim Howard got across brilliantly to deflect Johnson's chance, but he could only watch as the rebound fell right at the feet of Luton Shelton. Shelton, facing an open net, rushed his shot and sent it flying over the crossbar.
The U.S. were dealt a blow in the 12th minute when Jozy Altidore signaled to the American bench that he could not continue after suffering what was later revealed to be a left hamstring strain. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and Juan Agudelo was sent on to take his place as the lone striker in Bob Bradley's 4-2-3-1 formation.
The best chance for the U.S. came in the 13th minute, when Clint Dempsey, who had returned from his sister's wedding in Texas only hours before, let fly with a tremendous right-footed volley that was tipped over by Jamaica's Donovan Rickets. Dempsey forced Ricketts into action once again with a curling 30-yard free-kick in the 36th minute that was also helped over the bar by the Galaxy keeper.
The U.S. grabbed more and more control as the first half went on, and had three golden chances to score as the first half drew to a close. First Sacha Kljestan, playing in Landon Donovan's tradition midfield spot, tried a low shot that stung the palms of Ricketts. From the ensuing corner, Dempsey tried a typcially audacious bicycle kick that sailed over the bar. On the next U.S. attack Alejandro Bedoya headed a centering cross just wide of Ricketts' right post.
Undaunted, the U.S. pressed on, barely letting Jamaica see the ball in the half's final moments. A shot from Agudelo was pushed into the path of Jermaine Jones by Ricketts, but the former Blackburn Rovers man couldn't get a clear shot with the rebound. A minute later, Eric Lichaj, attacking from his left back position, tried a low shot that was snagged by Ricketts, who made a fine dive to his left to grab and smother the shot.