Five Things to Know About: Jamaica

The U.S. Men’s National Team rolls on to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals where it will face Jamaica on Wednesday, July 3 in Nashville (9:30 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision and UDN). 

Here are five things to know about the Reggae Boyz. 

Footballing History 

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 a15-3-8 overall record in 26 matches against Jamaica, going 12-2-3 on U.S. soil. 

As part of their Gold Cup preparation, the teams met less than a month ago with Jamaica running out 1-0 winners on June 5 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.

The USA is 4-1-0 all-time against Jamaica in the Gold Cup, and Wednesday’s match marks the third consecutive tournament where the two sides will meet. . The Reggae Boyz memorably came away with a 2-1 win in the 2015 semifinal, while the USMNT returned the favor with a 2-1 victory in the 2017 final to claim its sixth Gold Cup title. 

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.

Following their 1-0 win against the USA on June 5, Jamaica went on to win its Gold Cup group, defeating Honduras 3-2 (June 17) before drawing 0-0 with El Salvador (June 21) and 1-1 with Curaçao (June 25). In Sunday’s first quarterfinal, Jamaica used a 75th minute penalty kick from Darren Mattocks to defeat Panama 1-0 and give the Reggae Boyz passage to the Gold Cup semifinals for the third straight time. 

The Roster

Head coach Theodore Whitmore 23-player Gold Cup roster notably features 13 players that ply their trade in the United States. 

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). 

The full roster: 

GOALKEEPERS (3): Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union/USA), Amal Knight (UWI), Dwayne Miller (Syrianska/SWE)
DEFENDERS (7): Shaun Francis (Louisville City FC/USA), Michael Hector (Sheffield Wednesday/ENG), Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising/USA), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls/USA), Damion Lowe (IK Start/NOR), Alvas Powell (FC Cincinnati/USA), Jamoi Topey (Bethlehem Steel/USA)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Andre Lewis (Portmore United), Tyreek Magee (Harbor View), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United), Peter-Lee Vassel (LAFC/USA), Devon Williams (Louisville City FC/USA), Je-Vaughn Watson (OKC Energy FC/USA)
FORWARDS (5): Brian Brown (FC Reno/USA), Junior Flemmings (Phoenix Rising/USA), Maalique Foster (RVG Toros FC/USA), Darren Mattocks (FC Cincinnati/USA), Shamar Nicholson (Domzale/SVN), Dever Orgill (Ankaragücü/TUR)