LIKE they did against Panama at home last Friday night, Jamaica's Reggae Boyz produced yet another listless performance in their 0-2 loss to Costa Rica on Tuesday at the Costa Rican National Stadium.
The Boyz started brightly and could have opened the scoring, but as the home side settled into their short-passing rhythm, the visitors became scrambled, disjointed and inconsistent.
The performance should be of some concern to the technical staff, as the team struggled to connect on passes, despite being given more than enough space to operate. That's not a luxury they'll be afforded in many away matches.
GOALKEEPING: Captain Donovan Ricketts was beaten twice, but no reasonable assessment could point the finger of blame at him for either strike, as on the first he was left at the mercy of the hosts by his team while defending a set piece.
On the second he was again helpless, as substitute Diego Calvo capitalised on defender Jermaine Taylor's mistake to leave his feet, and the ease with which he rounded Lloyd Doyley to blast home at the far post.
Outside of that he was always well positioned, cutting his angles well whenever needed, though his many clearances ended up in lotteries — 6.5
DEFENCE: Went to sleep on the first goal — a set piece — in the 22nd minute. Failed to learn from that costly error and almost paid the price yet again from a similar situation, only to be spared the blushes when Joel Campbell volleyed high and wide from midway the penalty area.
There were a few other scenarios where they just managed to clear their lines from melees in an open contest. On the other side of the ball Adrian Mariappa, in particular, and tried to build the play from the back, while Taylor tended to go too long, too often. Damar Phillips started out slowly, missing his passes but gradually improved, especially when he ventured forward. He tried to steal in ahead of his marker on a few occasions and was burnt, thus exposing his team in the process. On the other flank debutant Lloyd Doyley proved fairly solid in defence and conservative at best, in attack — 4.5
MIDFIELD: The bane of the team yet again, especially in the first half when Rodolph Austin, one of the two anchors, stretched the sheet too far for the team's liking. They gave away the ball too often when minimal to no pressure was added. They were outnumbered in the middle of the park and found it difficult to wrest possession of the ball from the hosts until deep in the final third, as the wide players failed to do enough inside to thwart attacks.
On the attacking front, they lacked team chemistry, and their inability to hold on to the ball for considerable periods meant that not enough goalscoring opportunities were created.
With Austin sitting in the middle of the park in the second half, there was more opportunity for the defenders to relay passes to midfield, instead of looking to go long as happened in the first half. With Luton Shelton's tendency to drift wide left instead of playing in the hole behind the pointman, of as a twin striker, the left side was often clogged with Jobi McAnuff and Phillips operating on that flank. That was rarely the case, if ever, on the other flank — 4.5
FORWARD: Starter Jermaine Beckford and Shelton were presented with the two best chances to find the target, but neither was taken. Beckford was forced to hustle for scraps courtesy of the long balls pumped deep into the Costa Rican half, but he moved off the ball well whenever his team gained possession, as evidenced when Shelton had the chance on the stroke of half time.
Though Shelton was instrumental in both chances, his ability to find space in dangerous areas leaves a lot to be desired — 4.0
OVERALL TEAM SCORE 4.5