Sweet taste of beating Mexico in Gold Cup semis lingers, says Lowe

Sports

Sweet taste of beating Mexico in Gold Cup semis lingers, says Lowe

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Friday, July 03, 2020

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Jamaica defender Damion Lowe has had many memorable moments as an international footballer in a first-class career that has spanned some nine years.

But none, he says, is sweeter than when his Reggae Boyz defeated Mexico 1-0 in the semi-finals of the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 22.

The victory was secured with a sublime free kick from some 25 yards out from wide player Kemar “Taxi” Lawrence in the 88th minute. There was no time for the defending champions to get back.

Both Jamaica and Mexico had met earlier in the competition when they ended goal-less in their Group C encounter.

In other preliminary matches, Jamaica had defeated Curacao 2-0, before drawing 1-1 with El Salvador to finish second in the group to Mexico.

The Mexicans finished on top with seven points followed by Jamaica on five, El Salvador on four and Curacao at the bottom on zero.

On the way to the epic semi-final match-up against Mexico, Jamaica dispatched a bubbly Canada, with rising star Alphonso Davies at the forefront, 2-1, in the quarter-finals.

After getting by El Tri in the semi-finals, the Boyz were making their second-consecutive final in Concacaf's top national competition, having qualified for the 2015 championship game where they lost 1-3 to nemesis Mexico.

But in 2017, Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore's Boyz turned the tables, and to the delight of Lowe and his teammates.

“It was all joy and emotions [as] I cried tears of joy because everyone counted us out and we delivered. Our spiritual connection throughout the tournament allowed us to stay focused and humble,” he said.

Lowe, the former IK Start regular, said a lot of planning went into the knockout game against Mexico, many-time champions of the Gold Cup.

“There was a lot of tension in the air before the game, but we did our homework and studied their weaknesses from the group game. We knew how solid we were and knew it would not be easy for them to score on us.

“We knew if we stayed in the game as long as possible we would get a chance to win as we were structured pretty well,” Lowe told Jamaica Observer.

The decisive free kick from then New York Red Bulls Lawrence was rated as one of the best goals of the tournament, and Lowe savoured every moment of it for its sheer majesty and game-changing impact.

“When we got the free kick, Kemar [Lawrence] stepped up and curled it into top corner. The Mexico 'keeper, I think, was a little cocky even prior to the semi-finals as in the last game he boasted that we didn't had one shot against him, so he underestimated Lawrence's potential,” noted Lowe, son of France '98 veteran Onandi.

With the pre-eminence of the goal aside, Lowe thought that Jamaica played a solid tactical game which, coupled with outstanding goalkeeping from Captain Andre Blake, frustrated the Mexican response.

“We were fitter than they were...and you could see that they were getting tired having to be countering or restarting their attack every time,” said Lowe as he reflected on the the edge-of-your seat contest.

With victory in the bag and eye on their first Gold Cup title, the Jamaicans came up short in the final against the USA, losing 1-2 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on July 29.

Before 63,032 fans inside the stadium, Jozy Altidore (45th minute) and Jordan Morris (88th) scored for the home side, while Je-Vaughn Watson got Jamaica's consolation goal in minute 50.

It was the USA's sixth title.


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