WASHINGTON — Jamaica’s bright hopes of opening a new chapter in their rivalry against the United States will have to wait until next time, as some of the Reggae Boyz’ traditional flaws reappeared in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to a composed, physical US side in their Gold Cup quarterfinal meeting at RFK Stadium.
Struggling all afternoon to hold possession in midfield, Jamaica allowed the Yanks to take 18 shots, many of them early in the match as goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was kept busy in the first half.
“The team didn’t settle for the first 25 minutes and the US team was pushing us around,” said Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore afterwards. "I think we gave [Michael] Bradley a lot of space to play in, and that hurt us."
Yet the Caribbean side made it to halftime on level terms at 0-0, and with the Americans’ finishing skills looking less than perfect, they had reason to believe an upset was still within their grasp.
An 18-minute stretch at the outset of the second half put paid to those prospects.
First, man-of-the-match Jermaine Jones found the net with a deflected shot from range which left Ricketts no chance. Then just when the Jamaicans seemed ready to rally, the German-American midfielder’s surging run forced Reggae Boys defender Jermaine Taylor to clip him down with acres of open space ahead, earning a straight red card that effectively sealed the result.
“Well, they got a deflection goal and from there, we’ve got to make the last-man tackle, a red card, and that’s the game,” said striker Ryan Johnson. “You can’t win that kind of way. But at the end of the day we put the effort in and I’m proud of my team.”
The contest might’ve played out very differently had Johnson found a way past Tim Howard on a golden chance from point-blank range for Jamaica just four minutes in, but the veteran US netminder produced a fantastic reflex save on the fast-developing sequence.
The big San Jose Earthquakes striker could hardly hide his disappointment when asked about the play after the match.
“He made a good foot save, that’s all,” said Johnson. “Anything can happen, that’s the game.”
For all the quality the Jamaicans showed in the tournament’s group stage, they were always going to need a few factors to break in their favor in order to beat one of the region’s dominant powers.
“It’s just unfortunate today that we didn’t play as we have been doing,” said defender Shavar Thomas. “But we’ll learn from this and come back again. We definitely weren’t at our best in terms of our buildup and what we’ve been doing throughout the tournament. But next time we’ll be ready.”
Whitmore and his squad were gracious in defeat and quick to note the positives they can take away from their most impressive Gold Cup campaign in years.
“I want to congratulate the US team on a good performance,” said Whitmore. “I think our national team, the Jamaican national team, has been tremendous throughout the tournament and the future looks bright for our team.”