Unlikely Group B winners Jamaica will face unlikely Group A runners-up Haiti in – dare we say it – an unlikely CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal on Saturday, with the Reggae Boyz taking on their Caribbean neighbors at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore (8 pm ET, Fox Sports 2/Univision/UDN in the US, SN World in Canada).
Both teams enter Saturday’s test coming off of positive results, with Haiti beating Honduras in their Group A finale on Monday before Jamaica topped El Salvador to win Group B on Tuesday. The winner of this one will likely face the US – who play Cuba on Saturday in the other Baltimore quarterfinal – in next week’s semifinal in Atlanta.
BOYZ SHORTHANDED: Jamaica will be missing quite the complement of players on Saturday, with four of the Reggae Boyz’ seven MLS players unavailable for the Haiti match. Houston Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor is out of the tournament due to injury, while FC Dallas midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (yellow card accumulation) and Vancouver Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks (red card) are both suspended for Saturday’s encounter.
Portland Timbers defender Alvas Powell will also be out for the rest of the tournament after he left the team on Wednesday amidst reports that he was unhappy with his playing time.
“I told [Powell], ‘your time is coming,’” said Jamaica head coach Winfried Schafer. “We need all players, we need Michael Hector, we need you, we need [Simon] Dawkins, we need Ryan Thompson.”
“Now we need him, he told me he don’t want to play. You have no chance when you think about I, I, I. No, it’s we that’s important; we, the team, that’s important.”
Powell’s agent, former Chicago Fire and Jamaica striker Damani Ralph, also commented on the situation, calling it “a sad time for the youngster and a sad time for the national team.”
DUCKENS DYNASTY: One year after nearly quitting the sport for good, attacker Duckens Nazon has emerged as one of Haiti’s best players at the Gold Cup, scoring both of Les Grenadiers’ goals at the tournament.
Both strikes were huge, with the Paris-born Nazon rifling home the equalizer in the 86th minute of Haiti’s 1-1 draw against Panama then firing in the game-winner in the 14th minute of their 1-0 win in the group play finale against Honduras.
He’ll look to continue his success on Saturday against Jamaica, who haven’t allowed a goal since the 37th minute of their Group B opener against Costa Rica, giving them a shutout streak of 223 minutes.