Jamaica downplay talk of payback as Andre Blake leads the way vs. Curacao

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Was it a revenge match, or not?

Mixed messages emerged from Jamaica’s 2-0 win over Curacao in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Sunday. The teams had clashed two weeks ago in the 2017 Caribbean Cup final in Martinique, with Curacao surprisingly taking the regional crown.

But Jamaica, surprise 2015 Gold Cup finalist in their own right, rebounded from that loss with second-half goals from Romario Williams and Darren Mattocks to start Group C play in winning fashion.

Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore shrugged off the revenge angle, emphasizing the Reggae Boyz are focused on the current tournament more than taking it to Curacao.

“I mean, I wouldn’t say revenge [beating Curacao], only we wanted to give a good performance,” Whitmore said in the postgame press conference.

Defender Oniel Fisher, however, admitted it did play a role in motivating the team at Qualcomm Stadium.

“Yes [it was revenge for the Caribbean Cup final],” he told MLSsoccer.com “We needed this win, to top our group and so we did today, get a bit of revenge [as well]. We are here to fight, we are here to compete, and hopefully we can do more things in our next games.”

Philadelphia Union No. 1 Andre Blake not only retained his place in Jamaica’s lineup, but the goalkeeper also served as captain for the match, making six saves to preserve the shutout, playing especially well when the game was scoreless.

“It was great, being the captain, it was fun, and it’s big for us to start off the tournament with three points,” Blake said in the press conference. “I think the guys did a great job, as coach said.”

But Blake was not afraid to be critical of the team’s performance, in spite of the win.

“It wasn’t our best soccer game, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get three points and we did that today, so hopefully we can get better from here on in,” he added.

Jamaica’s next test comes on Thursday in Denver against Group C favorites Mexico. A win on Sunday has given the Reggae Boyz a good start, but even though Whitmore, when asked, said with a laugh his team was his tournament favorite, he’s not going to jump to conclusions on repeating, or even besting, Jamaica’s best-ever showing last time out in the Gold Cup.

“It has to be a game-by-game situation. We wanted to start off on a winning note, and that we did and that will give us a push going forward to Mexico, and it’s going to be a different game entirely, as I say, it’s a game-by-game situation.”