ATLANTA -- The U.S. men's soccer team sustained arguably its most shocking loss ever Wednesday.
Jamaica, ranked 76th in the world, stunned Team USA 2-1 in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal at the Georgia Dome. The Reggae Boyz are headed to the Gold Cup final for the first time ever. The Americans were left shaking their heads.
Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes scored first-half goals, and Jamaican keeper Ryan Thompson came up with just enough key saves to thwart a furious U.S. rally in the second half.
Jamaica will face the Mexico-Panama winner Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The U.S. will play the Mexico-Panama loser in the third-place game Sunday in Chester, Pa.
Team USA also will take on the Gold Cup champion in an October playoff for the region's berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann tried to put a positive spin on Team USA's first loss to a Caribbean team on home soil since 1969.
"The team is disappointed. The fans are disappointed because we wanted to play the big final on Sunday in Philadelphia," Klinsmann said. "It was a very, very good performance. I told them at halftime, as well, just keep playing like that and you're going to get more opportunities and sooner or later you're going to put them in the net and you're going to turn this game around."
That looked to be the case early in the second half, as the Americans seized momentum.
Down 2-0 after a first half lacking urgency, the U.S. team quickly cut into the deficit on a Michael Bradley goal in the 48th minute. Bradley followed Fabian Johnson's free kick from just outside of the box. Thompson stopped Johnson's shot but didn't corral it, allowing Bradley to storm in for an easy goal that cut Jamaica's lead to 2-1.
The U.S. kept the pressure on and had a plethora of opportunities but couldn't find the net and lost to the Jamaicans for only the second time in 23 meetings.
U.S. defender John Brooks missed a point-blank header off a rebound that would have tied the game, and Thompson, while shaky at times, managed to turn away several good opportunities in the second-half flurry.
"We lost this game on two set pieces that we conceded," Klinsmann said. "It's as simple as that. We had enough chances to put three, four or five (goals) in there. We didn't do that. It's unfortunate, but it's reality."
Having pulled off one of the biggest wins in the country's history, Jamaica stormed the field in celebration, while the frustrated Americans walked off the field, heads down in disbelief. Team USA was 13-1-8 in previous meetings against Jamaica.
"My phone hasn't stopped, as you can imagine," Barnes said. "Back in Jamaica right now, there's got to be a party somewhere. Everyone knows how we are as a country."
Jamaica coach Winfried Schafer said his team wanted more heading into the semifinal but would need a "David-vs.-Goliath" effort. He got it in a first half that saw Jamaica capitalize on a sloppy giveaway by the U.S. defense and a careless mistake by keeper Brad Guzan.
At the 30:54 mark of the first half, Jamaican defender Kemar Lawrence's throw-in, deep into the box, found Mattocks, and the striker deflected it toward the far post. Guzan got a hand on it, but the ball trickled down the goal line, off the opposite post and into the net to give Jamaica a 1-0.
Six minutes later, Barnes made it 2-0. A forward for the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, Barnes hooked a right-footer around a less than formidable U.S. wall on a free kick and beat Guzan to the near post, stunning the crowd at the Georgia Dome.
The play was set up when Guzan was called for a hand ball after stepping outside the box on a routine throw.
Bradley said, looking at the still image, he thought Guzan may have been outside the box by an inch or two.
"But if the linesman's going to make that decision, I think he has to be right on top of the 18 (yard line)," Bradley said about the controversial call. "And I saw where he was, and he was probably 2 or 3 yards behind it. Those decisions, they sometimes don't go your way. They got a free kick, and you got to defend it."
Looking ahead, Klinsmann said he expects his team to compete in the third-place game before turning its focus to the Confederations Cup playoff and World Cup qualifying.
"We have to swallow this pill, and it's not easy," Klinsmann said. "But we owe it to our fans to finish the tournament off in style and then we keep building, keep progressing."
NOTES: The defeat ended the U.S. team's nine-match unbeaten streak, a run that included road wins over the Netherlands and World Cup champion Germany. ... The USA controlled 60 percent of the possession and outshot Jamaica 20-10, including 10-3 in shots on target. ... Excluding the 6-0 win over defection-ravaged Cuba in the quarterfinals, the only U.S. goal-scorers in the Gold Cup were F Clint Dempsey (six goals) and M Michael Bradley (two).