Five Things to Know: Jamaica, presented by ThorneLearn more about the USMNT’s first opponent this summer
The U.S. Men’s National Team continues its preparation for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup with the first of two test matches, facing Jamaica on June 5 in the MNT’s first visit to Audi Field in Washington D.C. (7 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMas & UDN).
Here are five things to know about the Reggae Boyz.
A power in Concacaf’s Caribbean region, Jamaica’s rise began in the late 1980s, leading to the nation’s first major championship when it lifted the 1991 Caribbean Cup, a tournament they’ve won six times.
The Reggae Boyz’ shining achievement was finishing third in Final Round Qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, earning them their first appearance on the world’s biggest stage. While they fell in their first two matches to Croatia and Argentina, the side which featured current head coach Theodore Whitmore, won its first World Cup match when it defeated Japan 2-1 in the group finale.
Though they haven’t qualified for the World Cup since, Jamaica has performed exceptionally in Concacaf Gold Cup play of late, advancing to each of the last two finals. In 2015, the Reggae Boyz defeated the USA 2-1 in the semifinal before falling to Mexico in the championship match. Two years later, the MNT got some revenge, using a Jozy Altidore free kick and Jordan Morris’ 88th minute strike to take a 2-1 victory and its sixth Gold Cup title.
Head Coach: Theodore Whitmore
One of the most heralded players in Jamaican football history, Theodore Whitmore recorded 120 caps and 24 goals for the Reggae Boyz, good enough for third all-time in both categories.
A member of the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad, the midfielder also played part of his career in England with Hull City and Tranmere Rovers, as well as a short stint with Scottish club Livingston.
Having previously coached Jamaica from 2009-2013, Whitmore returned to the post in 2016 and was at the helm as the Reggae Boyz advanced to the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup Final.
History vs. USMNT
Since first meeting in 1988, the U.S. Men’s National Team holds an impressive 15-2-8 overall record in 25 matches against Jamaica, going 12-1-3 on U.S. soil.
The sides have met once before in Washington, D.C., playing to a 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium during the final round of qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup on Oct. 3, 1997.
Jamaica of Late
Jamaica began the current World Cup cycle with a 2-0 friendly defeat to Ecuador last September before beginning the qualifying process for the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League.
The Reggae Boyz ran off three straight shutout victories in CNL qualifying, downing Cayman Islands (4-0), Bonaire (6-0) and Suriname (2-0) to end 2018 on a high note. However, needing just a draw in their last qualifying match to guarantee a place in League A, they fell 2-0 at El Salvador on March 23, pushing Jamaica down to League B.
Three days after that defeat, they dropped a narrow 1-0 decision at Costa Rica in the team’s last match prior to facing the USA.
Head coach Theodore Whitmore named a 23-player roster for Wednesday’s match, notably calling 12 players that ply their trade in the U.S
Leading the way are goalkeeper Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union); defenders Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls) and Alvas Powell (FC Cincinnati); midfielder Peter Vassel (LAFC) and forward Darren Mattocks (FC Cincinnati).
Seven more players also feature for USL sides, including long-time Jamaica midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (OKC Energy FC; pictured above).
Also of note, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Leon Bailey also seems likely to make his international debut for the Reggae Boyz. Having just finished his third season with the German club, the 21-year-old scored five goals in 29 appearances this season, helping the club secure a spot in UEFA Champions League qualifying for the next campaign.
The full roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union/USA; 32/0), Amal Knight (UWI; 4/0), Dwayne Miller (Syrianska/SWE; 34/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Shaun Francis (Louisville City FC/USA; 16/3), Michael Hector (Sheffield Wednesday/ENG; 24/0), Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising/USA; 10/0), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls/USA; 46/3), Damion Lowe (IK Start/NOR; 19/1), Alvas Powell (FC Cincinnati/USA; 37/0), Jamoi Topey (Bethlehem Steel/USA; 1/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen/GER; 0/0), Andre Lewis (Portmore United; 1/0), Tyreek Magee (Harbor View; 0/0), Alex Marshall (Cavalier SC; 7/0), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United; 14/2), Peter Vassel (LAFC/USA; 10/5), Devon Williams (Louisville City FC/USA; 5/0), Je-Vaughn Watson (OKC Energy FC/USA; 78/4)
FORWARDS (5) Brian Brown (FC Reno/USA; 2/0), Maalique Foster (RVG Toros FC/USA; 3/1), Darren Mattocks (FC Cincinnati/USA; 44/17), Shamar Nicholson (Domzale/SVN; 5/0), Dever Orgill (Ankaragücü/TUR; 10/0)