'Tappa' turns attention to Qatar 2022Tuesday, July 27, 2021
SEAN WILLIAMS AT THE CONCACAF GOLD CUP in USA
DALLAS, United States – For Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, Sunday night's elimination from the Concacaf Gold Cup is now water under the bridge.
Though the 0-1 defeat to hosts United States hurt, already the Jamaica tactician has turned his focus on the more important Concacaf World Cup qualifiers which get cracking with a match away to Mexico on September 2.
No doubt, the disappointment of not advancing deeper into the tournament would leave a bitter taste, not only for the 22 players and the governing Jamaica Football Federation, but the entire nation of Jamaica.
Sunday night's elimination at AT&T Stadium would certainly be viewed as a massive underachievement for the Reggae Boyz who have made the semi-finals of the previous three editions of the biennial tournament.
Added to that, they were finalists in 2015 and 2017.
The USA, one of Jamaica's nemeses, defeated the visitors 2-1 in the 2017 finale, and eliminated them 3-1 at the semi-finals in 2019.
In Sunday night's game, FC Schalke's Matthew Hoppe got the winner in the 83rd minute.
The striker scored when he rose majestically between two Jamaican defenders to head into an unguarded goal, after Blake had advanced to take the incoming ball but appeared to have misjudged its flight and trajectory.
In the curtain-raiser, Canada blanked Costa Rica 2-0 to advance to the semi-finals where they will face Mexico in Austin on Thursday.
The USA will face guest team Qatar in the other semi-final match-up.
“It is a disappointment but again, we have to brush ourselves off as we have the World Cup qualification coming up.
“We played a tough game tonight, and I am pleased with what the guys have done in the tournament. We still have some work to do but we just have to pick up the pieces and look forward to the qualifiers,” said Whitmore.
He, once again, bemoaned the poor finishing of his attackers, while showering praise on the overall effort.
“I thought that we handled the conditions well but still there are aspects of the game that I was not comfortable with, especially in front of goal. I think we need to be more composed,” Whitmore observed.
“Again, the game is about taking chances, and the USA did that tonight [Sunday].”
He said he and his technical team will do a post-mortem on the tournament to chart the course forward, with World Cup qualifiers around the proverbial bend.
“We have to sit as a technical team to assess our performance in the Gold Cup, and then after that we will make our decision as to how we will approach the World Cup qualification,” Whitmore noted.
The Jamaica coach became the first team official to speak publicly about the status of Leon Bailey, after the Bayer Leverkusen winger missed the team's last two games of the tournament.
“Leon is carrying a knock from the game we played against Guadeloupe,” was his short response.
USA Coach Gregg Berhalter paid tribute to the Jamaica defence, spearheaded in the centre by Liam Moore and Damion Lowe.
“I must give Jamaica a ton of credit for the way they [Boyz] defended their penalty box. They are a very physical team, and we knew it was going to be a challenging game,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was Jamaica who were quickest on the attacking front when, in only the first minute, an attempted clearance by a USA defender crashed into Blair Turgott and rolled for Bobby Reid, but the offside flag went up.
In the minute 14th the Boyz were again on the move when Cory Burke held up the ball well before drifting across the face of the goal and then passing for Alvas Powell, but the latter went for a side-footed effort from just inside the 18-yard box which was easily gathered by goalkeeper Matt Turner.
The USA got their first sniff of the Jamaican goal in the 16th minute.
Goalscorer and hero of the night Hoppe lofted a ball in from the left side for Shaq Moore arriving down the right channel, but Boyz attacker Junior Flemmings tracked back to block the shot.
Three minutes later Jamaica, opting to use the counter-attacking ploy throughout, threatened again when Devon Williams floated a ball to the left side for Flemmings who created space for himself to unleash, but his shot skidded marginally wide from the edge of the box.
Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake was tested for the first time in minute 22 when Hoppe let fly with the left boot, but the Boyz custodian had the measure of the ball and turned it behind for a corner.
The USA threatened once again in the 36th when a flighted ball from midfield picked out Daryl Dike down the right side, but first-half substitute Oniel Fisher put in a timely tackle to avert the danger.
Flemmings tested Turner in the 39th minute with a firm shot, but the goalie responded with a save.
Two minutes later, Jamaica left back Kemar Lawrence drove forward and laid off an inch-perfect pass for Reid, whose tame left-footed effort did not justify the previous hard work.
On the stroke of half-time, the USA's Kellyn Acosta drove towards goal on the volley after Burke's headed clearance fell nicely for him, but the effort did not require Blake's intervention.
Two minutes after the resumption the USA forged ahead, the move ending with Hoppe firing goalward, but Blake put his body behind the shot and kept his goal safe.
As the possession switched, Jamaica attacked down the left in the 55th minute as Flemmings broke loose, cutting inside his escort, and as he was about to pull the trigger a back-tracking USA defender snuffed out the chance with a timely boot.
In the 66th minute Blake was again on the receiving end when newly introduced striker Gyasi Zardes rifled goalwards, but the acrobatic Jamaica goalie unfurled to his left to parry wide.
Jamaica came close to breaking the deadlock in minute 78 when a sliding substitute Shamar Nicholson got within a few inches of a free kick floated into the box.
The USA went ahead in the 83rd minute when hatchet man Hoppe greeted a Cristian Roldan right-side cross after out-jumping the Jamaican defence to head home and close the show in front of a massive USA supportive crowd. Over 41,000 fans attended the match at the 80,000-capaity stadium.
Jamaica – Andre Blake, Damion Lowe, Liam Moore, Alvas Powell (Oniel Fisher 28th), Kemar Lawrence, Blair Turgott (Shamar Nicholson 74th), Daniel Johnson, Bobby Reid, Devon Williams, Cory Burke (, Andre Gray 74th), Junior Flemmings (Tyreek Magee 86th)
Subs not used: Dillon Barnes, Dennis Taylor, Adrian Mariappa, Michael Hector, Amari'i Bell, Leon Bailey, Lamar Walker
Booked: Burke (30th), Turgott (50th), Lowe (89th)
United States – Matt Turner, Sam Vines, Miles Robinson, James Sands, Shaq Moore (Reggie Cannon 84th), Gianluca Busio, Sebatian Lletget (Cristian Roldan 63rd), Kellyn Acosta, Paul Ariola, Matthew Hoppe (Nicholas Gioacchini 84th), Daryl Dike (Gyasi Zardes 63rd)
Subs not used: Sean Johnson, Brad Guzman, Jackson Yueill, Jonathan Lewis, Eryk Williamson, George Bello, Henry Kessler.
Referee: Cesar Ramos (MEX)
Assistant referees: Albert Morin (MEX), Miguel Hernandez (MEX)
Fourth official: Selvin Brown (HON)
Referee assessor: Carlos Batres (GUA)
Match commissioner: Sudesh Singh (SXM)
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login