Can this crop of Reggae Boyz do what no Jamaican side has done before? They certainly seem to believe so.
The word out of Kingston this week is that Jamaica are confident, hopeful that Friday’s World Cup qualifier against the United States at Independence Park (8 pm ET, beIN Sport, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) is finally their time to claim a scalp against one of CONCACAF’s two dominating presences.
And while 90 minutes will ultimately decided which side takes the lead in Group A after three games, history is decidedly in the Americans' favor.
In 18 meetings between the two nations dating back to 1988, the US hold a commanding 10-0-8 lead with 31 goals scored to just 10 allowed. Jamaica have only scored multiple goals once, instead relying on their ability to keep the Americans hogtied rather than attempt outscore their northern counterparts.
And although Friday’s match appears primed to capture the imagination of the island nation, it will have a lot to live up to in order to match the three most compelling meetings between the US and Jamaica.
3. August 18, 2004 – Jamaica 1, USA 1 (World Cup qualifying)
HIGHLIGHTS: JAM 1, US 1
With just minutes left on the clock, it looked like the Reggae Boyz had finally done it. After a set-piece goal early in the second half from defender Ian Goodison, all Jamaica had to do was hold on to their slender lead in front of 30,000 strong in Kingston.
They couldn’t do it.
In the 89th minute, with the Americans pushing for a much-needed equalizer, right back Cobi Jones sent a hopeful ball in the box. It fell to Landon Donovan, who laid it off to an unmarked Brian Ching for what would be the then-San Jose forward’s first-ever goal in a US uniform, a dramatic drive past a helpless Donovan Ricketts.
By the time Ching’s rocket slammed into the back of the net, the hometown crowd was silent, a historic result cruelly snatched from their grasp by a little bit of American stick-to-it-ness.
2. May 16, 2002 – USA 5, Jamaica 0 (friendly)
It was a coming out party of sorts, one with a distinct MLS flavor.
HIGHLIGHTS: US 5, JAM 0
Although it didn’t mean anything from a competitive standpoint, the US’ blowout victory against Jamaica in the build-up to the 2002 World Cup was a crucial step in the journey to the quarterfinals in South Korea and Japan.
The stars – and goalscorers – in that match? None other than MLS products Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff and Clint Mathis. Wolff got two goals, while Donovan, Beasley and Mathis each grabbed one in the second-to-last warm up for that summer’s tournament.
Less than a three weeks later, that same attacking quartet helped Bruce Arena’s side knock off Portugal and eventually Mexico, taking the US farther than they’d ever been in World Cup competition.
1. October 7, 2001 – USA 2, JAM 1 (World Cup qualifying)
This one was memorable for a handful of reasons.
HIGHLIGHTS: US 2, JAM 1
First and foremost, it was the victory that sealed World Cup qualification for the US. Second, it came on the day the US government commenced military operations in Afghanistan, not even a month after September 11.
After three minutes, it seemed the US were destined to cruise to a straightforward victory on a day of both historical and sporting importance. Joe Max-Moore dove to nod Claudio Reyna’s cross into the back of the net in the third minute, and it appeared Foxboro Stadium crowd was in for a show.
That was not to be, however. Jamaica leveled things 10 minutes later, and both sides held steady until the 79th minute, when Reggae Boyz defender Tyrone Marshall had a moment to forget. With Donovan in behind, the center back slid in recklessly and scythed him down viciously.
Up stepped Max-Moore, putting the penalty safely inside the right post, helping seal a World Cup berth in the midst of a turning point in US history.