Sport

Boyz hope to match intensity the of USA

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Tuesday, September 11, 2012    

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jamaica's USA-based players have predicted a highly competitive game and an electrifying atmosphere inside the 24,000-capacity Columbus Crew Stadium here tonight.

The Reggae Boyz, with their tails in the air after a historic 2-1 win over the USA in their top-of-the-table clash in Group A of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in Kingston on Friday, are bracing themselves for an American bombardment.

But while the threat is real, the Jamaicans, especially those familiar with the battle ground located in this Midwestern US city, are oozing confidence that a back-to-back spanking of the hosts is not such a far-fetched idea as some may think.

"The crowd in Jamaica helped a lot in the performance, but definitely we can do the same thing here. We know what to expect from them, even as they are known as the kingpins of CONCACAF, but we will be ready," said a beaming Dane Richards who plies his trade for the Vancouver Whitecaps in US Major League Soccer.

He said he expects little change in the approach of the Americans, but was not ignoring their most important 12th man, the fans.

"The atmosphere will be all US, but we have to just go there and play like we did at the National Stadium," said the former New York Red Bull star.

Lovel Palmer of the Portland Timbers said, "It's going to be a crazy atmosphere. Columbus Crew has a big fan base and they're just going to come out and support their national team.

"The American Outlaws are going to be out in their numbers and you saw some of them in Jamaica," said the former Harbour View man who has paraded his stuff at 'Crew Stadium' against the home team, Columbus Crew.

With temperatures expected to dip into the low 50 degrees Farenheit, Palmer says that will hardly bother him and his teammates in the high-stakes match-up.

"We have a lot of guys from Jamaica playing overseas so we're accustomed to the cold weather and the loud fans... we're not intimidated and the performance will be just as good as it was in Jamaica, or even better," he told the Jamaica Observer at the Hyatt Regency Columbus hotel, the team's base.

Omar Cummings, a striker with Colorado Rapids, says a quality playing surface and "hostile environment" will be an interesting mix as Jamaica face a dangerous foe on home turf.

"I expect the fans to be rowdy and the players to come out playing hard, especially in the first 15 or 20 minutes," is how the former Rivoli United man views it all.

Vancouver Whitecaps' Darren Mattocks, who's tipped to win the coveted MLS Rookie of the Year title, thinks his team has a huge task at hand, but is unfazed by the challenge.

"We know the job at hand is a very huge one, especially that it's an away game, but we just have to stay focused and do what we did in Kingston.

"I think it was a mental block why we haven't been able to beat the US until now... but the jinx is finally broken... and we know that they can be beaten, so it's no longer a question whether or not we can beat them.

"I think also it will be an even game even though it's in their home court and the fact that we got three points in Jamaica will put a doubt in their mind," he concluded.

Jermaine Taylor, the regular captain of the team and a Houston Dynamo standout, says while he believes Jamaica will do well, the USA may have a trick or two up their sleeves.

"I think they (USA) will be trying to do something different from what they did in Kingston... They are expecting cold weather and that's why they brought us here.

"But whatever the weather condition, we are going to have a good game... they will keep coming at us and the more they do that, it's the more they will be exposed," argued the former Harbour View defender.

Another regular, Ryan Johnson who represents Toronto FC, said it will be "a close intimate atmosphere because the fans are close to the field".

Though the Kingston rendition is ranked a solid and efficient one, Johnson is of the view that more is in the tank and the USA have cause to be wary.

"I think we can better it (Kingston performance) because it will be a better surface... so while they will be looking to get three points on their home soil, it's for us to match their intensity and hopefully, we can come out with three points," he said.

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