ATLANTA - After his team toppled the defending champion United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals Wednesday night, Jamaica coach Winfried Schafer put the stunning achievement into perspective.
"David beat Goliath," he said.
The Reggae Boyz' 2-1 victory handed the Americans one of their most crushing defeats on U.S. soil, a result that delayed their hopes of clinching a berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
Instead, the Americans will play Panama for third place on Saturday at the Philadelphia Union's stadium.
The last time the United States lost to a Caribbean team at home during a World Cup qualifying segment was a 1-0 defeat to Haiti in 1969.
"It's very disappointing, very frustrating," said captain Michael Bradley, who scored the United States' lone goal off a rebound in the 48th minute. "You have no divine right to be in the final. We certainly didn't think that. We knew from the get-go this was going to be an extremely difficult tournament."
The Americans struggled during the group stage, recorded a relatively easy 6-0 quarterfinal win over a weak Cuba side and then played its best game of the tournament against Jamaica, which faces Mexico Sunday in the Gold Cup final.
"I cannot complain about the performance of the team," coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "We kept pushing, pushing, pushing. We had enough chances to put two, three, five in their net. We didn't do that. We have to swallow that pill."
The United States paid dearly for five minutes of shoddy defense late in the first half. Defender Kemar Lawrence's throw-in set up the open Darren Mattocks with a header in the box that hit the right post and then bounced before settling into the left corner in the 31st minute.
Five minutes later, goalkeeper Brad Guzan was called for a hand ball outside of the penalty area when his arm went over the line as he threw the ball. Giles Barnes drilled a perfectly placed 18-yard free kick into the upper right corner.
"Hand ball? I don't think I've ever seen that called, especially when it's a matter of inches," Guzan said. "If the linesman is three yards behind me, I think that's an impressive call from his point of view."
After Bradley's goal, Jamaica put numbers behind the ball and goalkeeper Ryan Thompson came up with big saves.
"When they had that many numbers behind . . . it's going to take a special play, a ball bouncing for you a little bit, a little bit of luck, a combination of all of the above," Bradley said. "Tonight we couldn't find it."