Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sports
KANSAS CITY, Missouri:
FOLLOWING a brief morning training session spanning about half-hour with some light drills at the Johnson County Community College playing field, Reggae Boyz head coach Winfried Schäfer expressed a liking for the vibe in his team.
"We've good spirit in the team. Everybody smile, happy, talk. The young and new players, Watson, Phillips, Campbell, Brown. This is a good team at the moment," he said after yesterday's morning session. "We need good spirit and everybody is happy."
The coach said the duration of the session, the Jamaicans' first since their arrival on Monday evening, had to do with their arduous travelling.
"This is a recovery training. Players (are) very tired from the flight - Jamaica-Miami, Miami-Chicago, Chicago-Kansas; the same with the players from Europe, London-Miami, Miami-Chicago, Chicago-Kansas, the training is only for warm-up today," he explained.
"Today (yesterday), we will do more with the ball, tactical training, technique training, and we work for the goal; crossing, shooting, all that's important for the match," he said of the evening session.
With most journeying practically the entire day, all but one member of the 23-man squad assembled at the Marriott Hotel in Overland Park on Monday, where they were granted an evening of rest. Alvas Powell, who plays in the US Major League Soccer (MLS), is due to arrive today.
Five Jamaica-based members of the squad, along with coaching and management staff, started gathering at the Norman Manley International Airport from close to 4 a.m. on Monday morning, before touching down at their Kansas City base near 7 p.m.
Their teammates who play professionally in Europe and the United States' MLS, arrived just about the same time or later in the state where temperatures dipped to 48 degrees. It is expected to be colder during Friday's match at Kansas City's Sporting Park, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The Jamaica squad is without five players from the previous match against Costa - strikers Marlon King and Luton Shelton, who were dropped, and Jermaine Beckford, along with midfielders Garath McLeary and Chris Humphrey.
Beckford's wife is expecting, there's a death in Humphrey's family, and McLeary is injured.
Also, No. 1 custodian Donovan Ricketts is unavailable due to a broken finger, while his deputy, Dwayne Miller, remains injured.
Influential left-sided defender/midfielder Demar Phillips returns after a long absence through injury, while Austin and Powell are back in the team after serving a one-match suspension for a red card (two yellow).
Included for the first time is Deshorn Brown, whose MLS scoring form has been good; and local-based Romario Campbell of Waterhouse, who has netted four goals since the Red Stripe Premier League kick-off last month.
Jamaica sit at the bottom of the CONCACAF hexagonal with four points, while Mexico and Panama are tied on eight, with Honduras third on 11, Costa Rica second on 15, and the United States leading with 16. All the teams have played eight of their 10 matches.
Both the United States and Costa Rica have secured qualification, with the top three automatically advancing the next year's World Cup Finals in Brazil and the fourth-place team set for a play off against Oceania champions New Zealand.