Washington DC, USA – Jamaica’s all-time leading goalscorer Luton Shelton hit a brace to lead Jamaica to a 2-0 win over El Salvador in their friendly international here at the RFK Stadium on Wednesday night.
Shelton put the Reggae Boyz ahead in the 16th minute when he blew by his marker from the left of the penalty box to deep inside the area before planting a firm left footer inside Dagoberto Portillo’s right hand post infront of 14,185 spectators, most of whom were supporting the blue and white clad Salvadoreans.
The Boyz then created a number of half chances, but Ryan Johnson appeared to have left his shooting boots at home as evidenced by his misfiring efforts.
Immediately upon the resumption, the Boyz gifted the opponents a grand opportunity to pull level, but Lester Blanco planted a firm, uncontested header wide of the mark from a left sided corner.
The black, green and gold standard bearers made the game safe on minute 66 when Johnson turned provider yet again, teasing his marker all the way down the left flank before making a looping cross from the goal line for Shelton to head home out of the reach of Portillo.
The Boyz had an attempted clearance smash against the goal frame during a period when they came under pressure, but they had easier opportunities to extend the lead through substitute Darren Mattocks, the Vancouver Whitecaps striker who is the leading candidate for rookie of the year in the MLS.
Twice he got behind clear sight on goal but failed to find the target on debut for the senior Reggae Boyz. Johnson, too, continued to have an off day, placing an effort from eight yards straight at goalkeeper Portillo, then planting a firm backpost header over the top from a delicious Lovell Palmer right-sided cross.
In the end it was no less than the Boyz duly deserved. They will now turn their attention to African side Kenya in Hartford, Connecticut on August 25, where mainly locally-based players will be in action as that date is not a FIFA-sanctioned date for international matches.
These games are in preparation for next month’s back-to-back World Cup Qualifying contests against the United States of America in Kingston on September 7, and in Columbus, Ohio four days later.
The US defeated Mexico 1-0 at the feared Azteca last night and will no doubt be high on confidence ahead of those two games. The North Americans and Jamaica share joint leadership of Group A with four points from two games and those games could give a fair indication of the two teams to advance to the final phase of qualification. Guatemala, who drew 3-3 with Paraguay in last night’s curtain raiser at the RFK Stadium, and Antigua and Barbuda follow with one point each.