Whitmore takes positives from Boyz loss to Los TicosThursday, July 22, 2021
SEAN WILLIAMS AT THE CONCACAF GOLDCUP in USA
ORLANDO, United States — The cruel irony is that Jamaica played their best game of the Concacaf Gold Cup on Tuesday night and lost 0-1.
In their previous two matches of Group C, the Reggae Boyz came up short in a few departments, but through sheer resilience and experience they managed to come away triumphant.
The old saying that an “ugly win is better than a pretty lost” held true for the Jamaicans. On Tuesday night it was the reverse that applied.
The coaching staff had demanded the team to play better with each game even though they were able to produce victories over Suriname (2-0) and Guadeloupe (2-1) which secured their quarter-final berth.
But in those matches the midfield, the possession of the ball, the finishing, plus the cohesiveness of the team were left wanting.
But on Tuesday, the Boyz got some of those right, except the finishing part as many clear-cut chances went abegging.
All the match statistics favoured Jamaica in the final group match, but the most important statistic of all went to the Costa Ricans as they scored one goal from three shots on target.
The Boyz had 11 shots on target but no goals to show.
Still, Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore took some measure of comfort from the overall performance from a game that saw eight changes from the starting line-up from last Friday's fixture against Guadeloupe.
“I think it was the best of the three games, and I am pleased with the performance by the guys…we moved around the ball a bit quicker. I also believe we unlocked the Costa Ricans as we got behind them and created numerous chances, but unfortunately, we didn't put them away,” he said.
“This is the final group match in the round and it did not go the way we wanted, but such is life and we just have to pick ourselves up and look to the USA game on Sunday.”
Whitmore said to dwell on the profligacy in front of goal will not reverse the result of the match, therefore, it was best to focus on the next fixture.
“But that's all water under the bridge, and now we just look to the next game.
“[But] I think tonight (Tuesday) I will give them eight point five [out of ten],” was the generous rating from the coach.
The Jamaicans, who were due to fly to Dallas, Texas, yesterday afternoon, will face the USA in their quarter-final match at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.
Costa Rica will tackle Canada in the second match of the AT&T Stadium final-eight double-header, having topped Group C with maximum nine points.
In Tuesday's contest, veteran and Captain Brian Luiz got the winner for Costa Rica in the 53rd minute.
Tuesday night's game was held up for two hours and 13 minutes due to a weather break as a system moved across the Orlando area. The match was halted in only the third minute of play as lightning lit up the evening sky and the rain thundered down.
In Florida, the lightning storm capital of the United States of America, if strikes occur within an eight miles radius of a sporting event, players and fans must leave open spaces and seek refuge inside.
As per state regulations, for every lightning strike, the delay is extended by 30 minutes.
In the other match of the group that was played in Texas, Suriname chiselled a 2-1 win over Guadeloupe to finish third but were eliminated one game a go. Guadeloupe ended the competition without a point.
Back on the field of play, a highlight of the Boyz's improved midfield delivery was the performance of Devon Williams, who like famous musical composers Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Bach, masterfully conducted the Boyz orchestra. The Miami FC maestro was confident as he was commanding.
A few of the other new starters would have made strong statements to the coaching staff that perhaps they deserve to be in the first team. Importantly, what this does is give Whitmore a lot to ponder when he selects his team for the next match.
In possession of the ball, especially in the first half, the Jamaicans used the length and breadth of the park to good effect and appeared dangerous around the Costa Rica box.
But again, the finishing left much to be desired in a game where they had the best-scoring chances and should have won the match.
The Boyz first threatened in the 14th minute, when cheeky play in the middle of the park by Tyreek Magee allowed him space to see options and he obliged by spraying the ball left side to Blair Turgott.
The Norway-based attacker delivered a one-time pass inside for Kemar Lawrence who, on his weaker right foot, fired low looking for the far left-hand corner, but his shot skipped marginally wide.
In the 26th minute, after winning a free kick on the edge of the box, Belgium-based Magee's curler flew high as the former Jamaica College standout put his mark on the game.
A short time later, Los Ticos ploughed forward with Adrian Martinez working a neat one-two with Keysher Fuller, but the latter was expertly marshalled by Boyz central defender and Captain Damion Lowe.
In the next foray in minute 31, Magee carried the ball forward by going directly down the middle, and laid off for Turgott charging down the right, but instead of crossing, the latter went for glory and watched his final effort sail high.
In the 42nd minute, the Boyz conjured another promising move when Turgott glided into space and laid a soft pass to Andre Gray who appeared surprised by the ball that slipped by a defender, and when it found him, his final shot was tame.
Turgott and Gray combined again in the 44th minute. Turgott, in the box and surrounded by a web of Costa Rican feet, laid off gently for Gray, only this time the Watford striker got purchase on his right-footed shot, forcing goalkeeper Leonel Moreira to push behind for a corner.
Jamaica had another chance in the 51st minute when Lawrence flew down his favourite left side, crossed low inside for Turgott and, as he had done on several occasions during the game, set up Gray, who went for power over accuracy from 12 yards as his right-footed shot crashed into the upright.
Costa Rica took the lead two minutes later when Ariel Lassiter floated a ball into the box from the left channel for the veteran Ruiz, who rose unmarked to head past Dillon Barnes who was making his debut in the tournament.
Suddenly behind in the contest, Jamaica drove forward in search of the equaliser in the 64th, with the move ending with Daniel Johnson letting fly from 20 yards forcing Moreira to make a full extended save.
A minute later, the Boyz came close again when the busy Turgott set up Lowe who tried to catch the keeper off guard with his low effort, but the effort lacked sting.
As Jamaica pressed for the equaliser, substitute Cory Burke was sent on a clear run in minute 72, but Moreira came charging out of his goal and ended up using his hand to block the Jamaica striker's shot outside the box, preventing a clear scoring opportunity. The Costa Rican custodian was red carded for the offence.
In the 80th minute, Jamaica powered forward through Magee, who laid off a pass for Burke, who muscled his way past his marker and crossed for substitute Shamar Nicholson, but the charging Charleroi striker could not find the target from close.
A minute later, Burke crossed for Nicholson, and again Nicholson couldn't make contact with conviction, a spell of poor shooting form that trailed from the second game. Nicholson had scored Jamaica's first goal of the tournament, when he masterfully beat the Suriname goalkeeper with a well-executed right-footed drive.
Costa Rica – Leonel Moreira, Yael Lopez (Ronaldo Matarrita 74th), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Keysher Fuller, Oscar Duarte, Bryan Ruiz (Johan Venegas 65th), Ariel Lassiter (Jefferson Brenes 85th), Joel Campbell, Allan Cruz (Celso Borges 65th, Adrian Martinez (Esteban Alvarado 74th), David Guzman.
Subs not used: Patrick Sequeira, Luis Diaz, Ariel Rodriguez, Jimmy Marin, Jose Ortiz
Booked: Moreira (red-carded)
Jamaica — Dillon Barnes, Damion Lowe, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence (Amari'i Bell 60th), Oniel Fisher, Daniel Johnson (Liam Moore 80th), Devon Williams, Tyreek Magee (Lamar Walker 80th), Blair Turgott (Shamar Nicholson 66th), Junior Flemmings, Andre Gray (Cory Burke 66th).
Subs not used: Andre Blake, Dennis Taylor, Michael Hector, Alvas Powell, Leon Bailey.
Referee: Mario Escobar (GUAT)
Assistant Referees: Caleb Wales (TRI), Miguel Hernandez (MEX)
Referee Assessor: John Nielsen
Fourth Official: Diego Montario
Match Commissioner: Charlie Cuzzetto
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