HOUSTON – After they pushed all game, Rodolph Austin finally got Jamaica the goal they deserved in stoppage time.
After more than 91 minutes of futility, Austin got on the end of a Garath McCleary cross and headed it home, locking up three points for the Reggae Boyz and putting them atop Group B with Saturday night’s 1-0 win over Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Despite being out-possessed on the night, Jamaica outshot Canada 21-7 and dominated the run of play.
Both teams conclude group play on July 14, as Canada face a must-win against Costa Rica on home turf at BMO Field in Toronto. Jamaica wrap up with a match against El Salvador.
Neither attack was particularly sharp during a first half in which tackles were coming hard and fast. And although Jamaica had the better of the opportunities, Canada had the first real chance in the 12 minute, but Tosaint Ricketts couldn’t beat the goalkeeper in a 1-v-1 situation.
Jamaica took over shortly thereafter and New York Red Bulls fullback Kemar Lawrence came close to opening the scoring in the 28th minute. After suspect defending by Canada, Lawrence picked up a loose ball in the box, pushed to the end line and took a shot which was cleared off the line by Canada defender David Edgar.
Jamaica continued to control the first half and Giles Barnes and Adrian Mariappa both had header chances inside the box but neither found the frame. As Jamaica pushed, Canada fell back and was relegated to repelling the Reggae Boyz attacks.
When it wasn’t Canada, the woodwork denied Jamaica. Playing in his home stadium, Barnes was a crossbar away from breaking the deadlock at the hour mark. The Houston Dynamo talisman took a short run-up and bent his free kick over the wall, but watched it clang against the framework as the match remained scoreless.
Second half substitute Darren Mattocks, who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps, was active with his speed, but like his teammates his finishing was also off. After a pass from Barnes in the 84th minute, Mattocks touched a clear-cut chance from eight yards out but missed the mark.
Austin made up for that and all the other chances with his stoppage-time header less than 10 minutes later as Jamaica took control of Group B.