Jamaica delirious after knocking out US in Gold Cup semifinals: "The feeling right now is insane"

ATLANTA – Jamaica head coach Winfried Schaefer was so delighted by the Reggae Boyz upset victory against the heavily-favored United States in the Gold Cup semifinal that he recycled a joke that drew belly laughs from reporters the day before.

Only this time, an hour after his team rode first half goals from Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes to a 2-1 victory that will see them play in their first-ever Gold Cup final, the joke didn’t land.

Not that the crickets bothered Schaefer in the least. Jamaica – organized, physical and clinical when it mattered most – had done what few outside their camp believed they could.

“David won against Goliath. One German won against two German coaches,” Schaefer deadpanned, repeating the parable that seemed farfetched before the game but an omen after it. “We needed 100 percent or more than 100 percent. I’m very happy.”

As were his players, so much so that they streaked all over the Georgia Dome field after the final whistle celebrating with each other and scattered pockets of fans. Others simply lay on the grass in disbelief.

“We’ve just put one of the big boys out, so it just shows that we can hang with the best right now,” Barnes said. “That’s our confidence builder going into the final.”

True to form, Jamaica did it via line-by-line organization (and a little luck) that stymied the US then did their damage on set pieces – a long throw-in that Mattocks looped over US goalkeeper Brad Guzan, hit both posts and trickled over the line and a Barnes free kick that doubled as a net-seeking missle.

“Coach has three or four of us working on free kicks daily,” Barnes said. “To be honest with you, [captain Rodolph Austin] wanted it at first then he looked at it and said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘I definitely want it if you don’t want it.’”

“To see it go in, just incredible. The feeling right now is insane. We’ve come here and defeated a great side that have a great manager. Congrats to the US for getting to the semis, but we’re looking forward to the final now.”

That means another “big boy,” as Barnes put it, in Mexico after El Tri followed up Jamaica’s historic win with a controversial 2-1 triumph of their own in the nightcap.

Once again, Jamaica will be the underdog. That, of course, won’t keep anyone on the island from reveling in a high point in the nation’s soccer history.

“Back in Jamaica right now there’s got to be a party somewhere,” Barnes said. “Everyone knows how we are as a country. It will be even greater when we lift the cup in the final.”

But while the party raged back in Kingston and the rest of the island, Schaefer did his best to keep his players focused not on the history they made on Wednesday night but on the history still to be made on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I’m very happy, but we’re not finished,” he said. “We have one match more. We cannot make party now. Bob Marley is after the match [on Sunday].”