CONCACAF's marquee competition kicks off on July 7. For comprehensive 2015 Gold Cup coverage, bookmark this page.
CAN REGGAE BOYZ CAPITALIZE ON CARIBBEAN CUP SUCCESS?
It’s been a wild few years for the Reggae Boyz. They opened the most recent Hex with a famous draw at the Estadio Azteca in February 2013, then proceeded to crash out and miss the 2014 World Cup. They then triumphed at home in the 2014 Caribbean Cup to clinch a spot in next year’s Copa America Centenario. The team spent much of the last 18 months going up against opponents from around the globe, with mixed results (including an 0-3 run at Copa America 2015). The question now is—will the team have the energy (and motivation) to perform at their peak in this year’s Gold Cup?
GROUP C SCHEDULE
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Darren Mattocks, F, Vancouver Whitecaps: There’s no doubt the 24-year-old thinks highly of his own abilities, as evidenced by his self-aggrandizing, referring-to-self-in-third-person rant on Jamaican TV back in 2013. But there’s also no doubt that Mattocks, who has eight goals for his national team, can decimate opposing defenses with his blinding speed, when he’s up for it.
Rodolph Austin, M, Leeds United: The Jamaican captain is one of the squad’s most experienced players, earning his first cap in 2004. The versatile 30-year-old is a stabilizing force in the middle of the Reggae Boyz’ midfield, and will cause problems for opponents as they attempt to launch attacks.
Giles Barnes, F, Houston Dynamo: Fans in Texas need no introduction to Barnes’ prowess (26 goals in four seasons with the Dynamo), but he is a newcomer to the Jamaican setup. The England-born 26-year-old only began representing Jamaica (the birthplace of his paternal grandparents) several months ago, but will present a dangerous option for the team at this Gold Cup.
Winfried Schafer shocked the world (well, a small subset of soccer fans, anyway) in July 2013 when he abruptly left Thai club Muangthong United to take the helm in Jamaica. His goal was to salvage the team’s fading hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup – a quest that ultimately proved unsuccessful.
The 65-year-old German has an eclectic resume, previously managing the national teams of Cameroon and Thailand, and club sides in Germany, Uzbekistan and the UAE.
- Group B preview: Costa Rica are the favorites in Group B free-for-all
GOLD CUP HISTORY
Jamaica has a pretty patchy Gold Cup history—they shared third place in 1993 (their best-ever result), then failed to qualify in 1995. They made the quarterfinals in 2003 and 2005, then failed to qualify in 2007. Quarterfinals in 2011, a no-show in 2013. In all, they’ve been at eight of the previous tournaments.
Still, it beats their legacy at the old CONCACAF Championship, in which they participated just twice (1963: eighth place, 1969: sixth place).
The connections are plentiful, no matter what position you’re looking at. In goal, you’ve got Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union). In defense, there’s Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls) and Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers). Up top you’ve got Mattocks and Barnes, and in the midfield, there’s Je-Vaughn Watson (FC Dallas). There are also contributions from the NASL (Lance Laing, FC Edmonton) and USL (Ryan Thompson, Pittsburgh Riverhounds).