CARSON, Calif. — Can winning by four goals end up a disappointment? For a Jamaican side with aspirations of greatness at the Gold Cup, Monday’s performance was just that.
The Reggae Boyz tallied four goals on their Caribbean rivals Grenada in a convincing victory at the Home Depot Center. Perhaps testament to the high expectations of the Reggae Boyz — who have said their goal for the Gold Cup is at least qualifying for the semifinals — the match was considering something of a let-down.
The gap in class between the two sides may have been huge, yet the Reggae Boyz squandered numerous chances to extend their lead. Following the match, Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore was blunt in his assessment of the Reggae Boyz performance.
“The guys could have done better tonight, and I think the finishing was a big let-down,” said the Jamaica head coach, who couldn’t hold back a chuckle during his answer. “We did manage to score four though, and that is a good way to start off the competition.”
The Jamaica attack was spearheaded by the play of forward Ryan Johnson, who continually made daring runs as the middle striker in Jamaica’s three striker system. The San Jose Earthquakes attacker was awarded the CONCACAF Man of the Match after the victory, but he leaves the first match of the Gold Cup believing he could have done more.
Johnson’s fellow MLS employee, New York Red Bulls winger Dane Richards, helped terrorize the Grenadian defense throughout. The two even combined for a goal when Richards sent in a cross that found Johnson, who easily tapped it into the back of the net.
The San Jose forward was unlucky to not score a second goal in the 76th minute when he broke away from the defense and fired a shot from distance that bounced off the underbelly of the crossbar and was quickly handled by Grenada goalkeeper Shemel Louison. Television replays showed the ball crossing the line, but it was not awarded.
For Johnson, it was important to put the no-goal and an impressive, yet still lacking performance behind him.
“We just need to keep looking forward," he said. "You can’t worry about the chances that you miss. Just focus on what you did well and put that toward the next game. It was just very significant with us to start off with a win, and we did that tonight.”
The Reggae Boyz will now look ahead to their next match on Friday in Miami against a much stronger Guatemala side, who boast their own MLS contingent in Carlos Ruiz and Marco Pappa.
As Johnson and Jamaica focus on a match that they hope will book their passage into the knockout stages, it is clear that they must continue to build on an encouraging performance at the Home Depot Center.
“I’m just trying to do my job the best way that I can, because I want us to go very far in this tournament,” said Johnson. ‘We’re a very good team and this was just the beginning for us.”
Adam Serrano works for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano