CARSON, Calif. — Jamaica started their highly touted Gold Cup 2011 campaign with a convincing victory over fellow Caribbean nation Grenada, trouncing the Spice Boyz 4-0 at the Home Depot Center on Monday night.
The Reggae Boyz took the lead in the 21st minute off a short corner when Rodolph Austin fired in a cross that found the left toe of Jamaica forward Luton Shelton, who played it past Grenadian goalkeeper Andray Baptiste.
Throughout the match, the Jamaicans were on their front foot, and doubled their lead in the 39th minute of play when the Red Bulls winger Dane Richards broke through the Grenada defense. Richards swung in a cross to San Jose Earthquakes forward Ryan Johnson, who tapped the ball into the back of the net.
There was a moment of pause for Sporting Kansas City fans as Grenada midfielder Craig Rocastle underwent a nasty collision with Jamaican defender Eric Vernan near the end of the first half. Rocastle attempted to continue but was eventually removed at the half. The absence of the Sporting KC midfielder didn’t help the already-overwhelmed Grenadians struggle to deal with the speed of the Jamaicans, who dominated the possession and the chances throughout.
As the Reggae Boyz pushed forward, they were spearheaded by the play of Johnson, who had countless chances at the Grenada net. The forward had his best chance of the second half in the 76th minute when, off a breakaway, he fired a shot that appeared to hit the inside of the cross bar and bounce out. Replay clearly showed that the ball crossed the line before being pushed away by the goalkeeper.
However, while Johnson wasn’t awarded for his tally, the goals soon came as Jamaica scored two more within minutes of one another. The first was a brilliant individual effort by Delmar Phillips in the 80th minute of play. Just four minutes later, Omar Daley fired a rocket of a shot from the top of the box that went into the top right corner of the Grenada net for the final score line.
Both teams head to Miami’s FIU Stadium for the second group stage game. Jamaica take on Guatemala Friday at 7 pm ET, while Grenada will take on Honduras at 9:30 pm ET.