Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sport
WASHINGTON DC, United States:
JAMAICA were knocked out of the CONCACAF Gold Cup yesterday, going down 2-0 to the United States, before a 45,423 capacity crowd at the RFK Stadium in Washington DC.
"I'm very disappointed," said Jamaica's head coach, Theodore Whitmore, of the Jamaicans' elimination. "But I still have to give credit to the players, they went out there and they performed."
Jermaine Jones (49th) and Clint Dempsey (80th) netted second-half goals to ensure that the Americans, who played a sound tactical game, kept their unbeaten record against the Caribbean champions.
The United States now advance to Wednesday's semi-final in Houston against Panama, after their 5-3 penalty kick victory over El Salvador in the other quarter-final played at the same venue. Penalties were needed to settle the tie after both teams played to a 1-1 regulation and extra time scoreline.
Jones volleyed a headed clearance from a corner kick powerfully along the ground at near 25 yards, and it took a wicked deflection off Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor's right boot, to steer it beyond the path of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Dempsey got an easy goal. With the Jamaican defence unmanned, Juan Agudelo took advantage with a dribble into the box on the flank, made a grounded square to Dempsey, who dummied Ricketts into a dive, before placing the ball into the empty goal.
Yesterday's win lifted the Americans' tally to 10 in the 18th contest between the nations' senior football teams, as the hosts took over the match from near the middle of the first half and dominated for the rest of the way.
Interestingly, they could have won by a much wider margin had goalkeeper Ricketts not been in brilliant form, as he made a number of key saves.
The Reggae Boyz ended the game with 10 players, following the ejection of Taylor at the 67th minute.
In similar fashion, Taylor had not finished the last Gold Cup match-up between the teams, when he was ejected almost on the stroke of half time, when Jamaica went on to lose 3-1 at the same quarter-final stage at the Foxboro Stadium, in Massachusetts, in 2005.
Broke for goal
Taylor, who represents Houston Dynamo in the USA's Major League Soccer, was red-carded after Jones broke for goal at the centre of the pitch then went down as the central defender, the last man, got into position and made a challenge.
TV replays suggested the Jamaican never touched his opponent.
Ironically, it was the Jamaicans who got the first wide-open chance to take the lead, as early as the fourth minute. Two unmarked players - Ryan Johnson and Luton Shelton - combined to squander what was a golden opportunity at goalmouth, after Dane Richards had slipped a pass inside from the right flank to Rodolph Austin, wide at the top of the penalty box.
Austin hit the ball one time low to the far post and Johnson met the ball inside the six-yard box, only to place it on to goalkeeper Tim Howard's body. With Howard floored, the rebound rolled out nicely to Shelton, who amazingly side-footed the ball over the empty goal from six yards, with not a single opponent within reach.
"The keeper made a good foot save, that's all," admitted Johnson.
Whitmore believes it made a difference.
"I think that was very crucial," he said of the miss. "I think that would have changed the complexion of the game. But as I said before, we can't keep getting chances and not score, especially against a team like the US.
"That would've made a lot of difference in the game this afternoon," he stated.
The Americans, who left out star player Landon Donovan at the start, ensured that Jamaica never got another opportunity that easy to score, even while the Boyz were giving their best performance of the match, up to the 25-minute mark.
Even then, they failed to match the heights of their previous impressive performances, which was characterised with heavy ball possession, patient build-ups and confident all-round play.
"I think we never kept a lot of possession, I think we allowed Bradley to dictate the pace of the game," Whitmore confessed. " ... It could be nerves. I think some of our better players never played today."