Jamaica open the CONCACAF Hexagonal next week with the unenviable task of facing Mexico at Estadio Azteca. And they’ve shockingly cleaned house.
In a direct response to Jamaica’s embarrassing flameout in December’s Caribbean Cup, head coach Theodore Whitmore has named a 23-man squad that features only three MLSers, three school boys and five foreign recruits who have never suited up for the Reggae Boyz in an official match.
New faces Marvin Elliott, Joel “Jobi” McAnuff, Garath McCleary, Theo Robinson and Jermaine Beckford all were born in and play in England, but were part of the Jamaican Football Federation’s push to recruit players in Europe with Jamaican ancestry.
Only Houston defender Jermaine Taylor and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and forward Ryan Johnson of Portland represent Major League Soccer, as does recent export Dane Richards, now with England second-division side Burnley.
Johnson is one of only four players to return from the Caribbean Cup squad that went winless and bowed out at the group stage for the first time since 2007, eliminating them from participation in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"One of the mistakes that we will never make again is to have Jamaica parade an 11 on the field that we know is not the strongest 11 available," JFF president Horace Burrell said at Thursday’s press conference in Kingston. "We should never repeat what happened in the Caribbean Cup. We have gone all out to try and secure the strongest 11 possible players to represent this country.”
Jamaica face Mexico in both nations' opener in the final round of World Cup qualifying on Feb. 6 at 6:30 pm ET (ESPN2, UniMás).
FULL JAMAICA NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER
Goalkeepers (3): Donovan Ricketts (Portland Timbers), Dwayne Miller (Syrianska/Sweden), Duwayne Kerr (Strommen/Norway)
Defenders (6): Alvas Powell (Portmore United FC/Jamaica), Nyron Nosworthy (Watford/England), Damion Stewart (Notts County/England), Adrian Mariappa (Reading/England), Demar Phillips (Aalesunds/Norway), Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo)
Midfielders (9): Andre Lewis (Cavalier SC/Jamaica), Joel McAnuff (Reading/England), Jermaine Johnson (Sheffield Wednesday/England), Tremaine Stewart (Aalesunds/ Norway), Rudolph Austin (Leeds United/England) Marvin Elliot (Bristol City/England), Jason Morrison (Aalesunds/Norway), Jermaine Hue (Harbour View/Jamaica), Omar Daley (Motherwell/Scotland)
Forwards (5): Garath McCleary (Reading/England), Jermaine Beckford (Huddersfield Town/England), Theo Robinson (Derby County/England), Ryan Johnson (Portland Timbers), Dane Richards (Burnley/England)