Ja­maica keep­ing it cool in big win

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

PASADENA: Af­ter Ke­mar Lawrence ripped an ex­quis­ite shot over Mex­ico’s five-man wall and into the top cor­ner for one of the big­gest goals in Ja­maican soc­cer his­tory, the de­fender hushed his team­mates and re­fused to cel­e­brate.

These Reg­gae Boyz are stay­ing cool, even af­ter a goal that sent them into the CONCACAF Gold Cup fi­nal with a chance to make his­tory.

Lawrence scored on a clutch 24-yard free kick in the 88th minute, and Ja­maica ad­vanced to the fi­nal with a 1-0 up­set vic­tory over Mex­ico, their first in eight Gold Cup meet­ings.

Mex­ico beat Ja­maica in the 2015 Gold Cup fi­nal, and El Tri also de­feated the Reg­gae Boyz 2-0 at the Rose Bowl just 13 months ago dur­ing the Copa Amer­ica. Ja­maica fi­nally got one back.

“I think our guys were hun­gry,” Ja­maica coach Theodore Whit­more said. “They needed it more than the Mex­i­cans, and we did what we had to do.”

Ja­maica will face the United States on Wed­nes­day night at Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia. With a vic­tory over the home team, the Reg­gae Boyz would claim their first cham­pi­onship in soc­cer’s North and Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean re­gion.

“The best way I could put it is the Bi­b­li­cal story,” Whit­more said. “David slew Go­liath.”

The Reg­gae Boyz have reached the fi­nal for the sec­ond straight Gold Cup, but this stun­ning up­set at the Rose Bowl ranks among their big­gest in­ter­na­tional wins. Mex­ico have won seven Gold Cup ti­tles, the U.S. five and Canada one.

“That’s a cy­cle we want to break,” Whit­more said. “That’s some­thing we sit and dis­cuss. It’s al­ways Mex­ico, U.S. We want to be in that group. We want to be a team, a coun­try that some­one can talk about.”

Ja­maica goal­keeper An­dre Blake kept the game score­less with a se­ries of im­pres­sive saves while Mex­ico dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion.

But af­ter Lawrence repo­si­tioned the ball in a bit of shifty games­man­ship, his late strike froze Mex­ico goal­keeper Je­sus Corona. The ball curled over the wall and slipped just be­low the bar for the New York Red Bulls de­fender’s third in­ter­na­tional goal and first in three years. The 24-year-old Lawrence doesn’t take free kicks for his MLS club, but Whit­more knew his qual­ity from re­cent prac­tices.

“The New York Red Bulls prob­a­bly have a bet­ter kicker than Ke­mar Lawrence,” Whit­more said with a smile. “Now, Ja­maica’s team needs Ke­mar Lawrence in dead­ball sit­u­a­tions. It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent thing. Prob­a­bly when the New York Red Bulls see this tonight, they might (want him) to take free kicks.” – AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.