Gold Cup: Grenada put forth valiant effort in huge loss

MIAMI — A heavy final score of 7-1 left Grenada coach Michael Adams disappointed, but he wants the record to show that a decimated underdog actually held its own in Friday’s Group B match against Honduras at FIU Stadium.

“All the history books will read is 7-1 and, in fairness, while there was a capitulation at the end, it wasn’t necessarily reflective of a good portion of the game’s performance,” Adams said in the post-game press conference. “For 60 percent of the game, it didn’t look like it was going to be that way.”

Grenada took a surprise lead after 19 minutes when forward Clive Murray netted an opportunistic goal, the first in five all-time Gold Cup matches played by the tiny Caribbean country.

But the advantage lasted only a few minutes, as the Grenada defense was infiltrated time and again by incisive runs and piercing through balls. The offside trap did not work all night.

“We should have bunkered [at 1-0],” Adams said. “We’ve been ravaged by injuries and tonight, Leon Johnson, who would normally play at the back, he’d control that line and he had to come off. We have a lot of young boys playing in the team and this was a level too much for them and we paid the price for that.”

For those seeking to judge Grenada’s quality of play from Friday night’s result, Adams was quick to point out that the long list of absences have been difficult to overcome. In addition to Johnson, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Craig Rocastle was injured in the first group game. Benedict Modeste was lost to a shins condition and David Cyrus was also missing. Add to that the fact that New England Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph decided to withdraw from the Gold Cup – something “which [Grenada] didn’t expect to happen,” according to Adams.

But the Spice Boys still felt they were in the game when the score was 3-1 in favor of Honduras in the second half. Forward Delroy Facey’s solo effort, which was deflected against the post by the Honduran goalkeeper, could have reduced the deficit to just a single goal.

However, a turnover in midfield conceded a few minutes later by Grenada led to a quick transition by Honduras and another goal for the Central Americans, at which point the wheels came off.

“For us, that was turning point,” Adams said. “From our point of view, it’s about momentum and we lost the momentum.

“The momentum we had got taken away when we gave away a stupid goal, which was a schoolboy error as far as I’m concerned,” continued Adams. “And then there were the offside goals and then the team lost its heart.

“We’re playing against world class opposition and they’re going to punish you, and rightly so. … What they have to understand is that at this level, you can’t capitulate like that.”

Adams was not about to criticize Honduras for running up the score.

“That’s what they’re there to do,” he said, pointing out his impression that two of the Hondurans’ final goals were offside goals, which he called “ridiculous.”

Among the highlights for Grenada was the play of 21-year-old Murray, who plays in the country’s domestic league and whom Adams calls “a great talent.” Murray also hailed the play of his goalkeeper, Shemel Louison, who made several miraculous saves when his goal was being peppered.

Grenada will close out their second consecutive Gold Cup participation with a match against Guatemala at Red Bull Arena on Monday, June 13. And while passage to the quarterfinals may not be on the line for the Spice Boys, it’s another opportunity to prove themselves.

“It’s not meaningless to us,” Adams said. “I think that whilst I’m feeling very, very sore now, I’m still very proud of my country. Ultimately, we’re the smallest nation ever to do this. Some of these guys are village footballers and they’ve never played at this level.

“I’ve resented some of the questions that have come in about whether we should be here or not. We’ve been here twice because we deserve to be here. It’s only by coming at this stage that we will be better the next time. And we will be here another time.”