History beckons at 'The Office', says Thomas
JAMAICA'S run of 24 unbeaten years at home against the United States in World Cup qualifiers will be under threat tonight and in reverse, the Reggae Boyz have never beaten their American counterparts either, and that could change also.
Veteran defender Shavar Thomas believes the time is right for Jamaica to end that steak, dating back to 1988 when all matches played at 'The Office' ended in draws.
"It's going to be a tough challenge, first of all, and my belief is that US and Mexico right now are tops in the region and going to the World Cup, we must go through both of them, playing home and away," said the former captain, who will start on the bench tonight.
"It's going to be a tough challenge but I'm pretty sure and I'm very confident that our team is ready for it," Thomas told the Jamaica Observer after training on Wednesday night.
With a plethora of players plying their trade in the US Major League Soccer (MLS) and getting used to its system and players, the gap between the teams might not be so wide.
At least nine Reggae Boyz in the current squad are playing in the MLS, with 31-year-old Thomas being the most experienced in the American league.
He started at the Dallas Burn in 2003 and since then, has passed through several clubs, including Kansas City Wizards, Chivas USA, Philadelphi Union, Sporting Kansas City and now Montreal Impact.
Then there are Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls and Vancouver White Caps); Darren Mattocks (Vancouver White Caps); Omar Cummings (Colorado Rapids); Jermaine Taylor and JeVaughn Watson (Houston Dynamo); Ryan Johnson (Real Salt Lake, Chicago Fire, San Jose EarthQuakes and Toronto FC); Dicoy Williams (Toronto FC) and Lovel Palmer (Houston Dynamo, Portland Timber).
"There is the case of the familiarity of playing against and training with most of these players (Americans) day in day out, but that doesn't count when you go on the field because we still have to go out there and play our game to come out on top," noted Thomas, who formerly played at Hazard United.
He believes Jamaica's unbeaten run at home will continue.
"Most definitely, that's the idea and the focus and it's a good opportunity to move ahead of them (USA) in the group and shed some daylights between us and the rest of the group.. this is a big opportunity for us to do that," Thomas reiterated.
Although Jamaica have never beaten their rivals in a senior tournament, Thomas believes this crop of players knows its duties and history therefore beckons at the National Stadium.
"Everybody is confident. We all know our jobs and we're ready for Friday night... with the fans behind us. We are ready to go," he said.