Five Things to Know About Jamaica, presented by BioSteel

The United States kicks off its second set of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup when it hosts Jamaica at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2, Univision, TUDN).

The U.S. Men's National Team (1-0-2, 5 points) enters its fourth of 14 qualifying matches tied for second place. The Reggae Boyz sit at the bottom of the eight-team group after going 0-2-1 (1 point) through their first three matches.

Overall, the USA is 18-3-8 against the Jamaicans.

The teams have met twice this year, first in a friendly on March 25 in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.  Sebastian Lletget had a brace and Sergiño Dest and Brenden Aaronson added single goals as the USMNT recorded a 4-1 win. In the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals, Matthew Hoppe tallied his first international goal in the 83rd minute leading the USA to a 1-0 shutout on July 25 en route to the tournament title.

Here are five things to know about the Reggae Boyz:


WORLD CUP QUALIFYING HISTORY

Since first entering qualifying competition in 1966, the Reggae Boyz have reached the FIFA World Cup once in 11 attempts. Their shining moment in the sun came when they booked a spot at the 1998 event in France with a legendary and talented side that included the likes of current head coach Theodore Whitmore, Deon Burton, Robbie Earle, Warren Barrett and Linval Dixon. The Jamaican squad played in a team-record 20 matches during that qualifying run, registering a 3-2-5 record in the Hexagonal and an 11-3-6 overall mark. Whitmore led all Jamaican scorers with five goals.

In France, they finished third in Group H with a 1-2-0 mark. The team started with a 3-1 defeat to eventual third-place finisher Croatia, with Earle scoring the lone goal. The Reggae Boyz’ 5-0 loss to Argentina in the second match meant they wouldn’t advance from the group, but they rebounded to in the tournament as Whitmore’s brace carried them to a 2-1 victory against Japan – their first win at the FIFA World Cup.

Since 1998, Jamaica has advanced to the final round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying on four of seven occasions. They returned this year after missing out during the 2014 qualification process.


USA-JAMAICA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING SERIES

The teams first met in a scoreless draw in Kingston, Jamaica on July 21, 1988 before the U.S. eliminated its rivals from contention for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy with a 5-1 triumph in St. Louis on Aug. 13, 1988. Frank Klopas struck for a pair of second-half goals as Brian Bliss, Hugo Perez (go-ahead goal on a penalty kick) and Paul Krumpe added one each. Alton Sterling had Jamaica's lone goal.

 

WCQ HIGHLIGHTS: USA 5-1 Jamaica | Aug. 13, 1988

 

The Americans own a 5-1-6 qualifying record against the Reggae Boyz, including an unbeaten 4-0-2 mark on home soil. In those six matches, the USA has outscored Jamaica, 12-4, while earning two clean sheets.

Since that 1988 encounter, only one other contest between the teams has been decided by more than a goal -- a 2-0 win in Kansas City, Kan. on Oct. 11, 2013. Jozy Altidore and substitute Graham Zusi found the net and Tim Howard secured the clean sheet for the already qualified USMNT side.

In the other matches in the USA:

The teams played to a 1-1 draw in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 3, 1997 as Eric Wynalda and Deon Burton traded goals only a minute apart early in the second half.

In the first National Team event following September 11, the USMNT qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup behind an emotional 2-1 victory in Foxborough, Mass. on Oct. 7, 2001. Joe-Max Moore scored twice for the victors, James Lawrence for Jamaica.


WCQ Highlights: USA 2-1 Jamaica | Oct. 7, 2001


The teams have had two qualifying encounters in Columbus, Ohio, both in the semifinal round. Already advanced to the final round for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the USMNT denied Jamaica’s path to join them as Eddie Johnson’s goal stood up in the 1-1 draw.

The USMNT returned to Columbus eight years later and under some considerable pressure after falling 2-1 to the Reggae Boyz in Kingston just four days earlier. Playing at Crew Stadium on Sept. 11, 2012, the USMNT used Herculez Gomez’s second half free kick and a gutsy team performance to earn a 1-0 win and push the side towards advancement to the final round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.


JAMAICA MANAGER

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. Interestingly, “Tappa” made his international debut for Jamaica in a 1-0 friendly defeat to the United States on Nov. 7, 1993 in Fullerton, Calif.

A key 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 where they fell 2-1 to the United States.

 

RECENT MATCHES

With a number of players based in the United Kingdom, Jamaica was the hardest hit by the “Red List” travel restrictions put in place by that country for individuals who traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica last month.

 

WCQ HIGHLIGHTS: Mexico 2-1 Jamaica | Sept. 2, 2021

 

Opening up at Mexico behind closed doors at Estadio Azteca, the Reggae Boyz’ Shamar Nicholson equalized in the 65th minute following Alexis Vega’s opening strike. Looking like they’d escape Azteca with a point, Jamaica conceded late as substitute Henry Martin beat Andre Blake in the 89th minute to give Mexico a 2-1 win on Sept. 2.

Though they returned to Kingston with a full complement of players to choose from, things didn’t improve against Panama on Sept. 5. Jamaica was second-best all afternoon as Andrés Andrade (14th minute), Rolando Blackburn (39th minute) and Cecilio Waterman (81st minute) paced Panama to a comprehensive 3-0 win at Independence Park.


WCQ HIGHLIGHTS: Costa Rica 1-1 Jamaica | Sept. 8, 2021

 

Back on the road and limited again in his roster selections, Theodore Whitmore’s side went down early again as Luis Marín gave Costa Rica a lead just three minutes into the match at Estadio Nacional in San Jose. Jamaica bounced back as Shamar Nicholson scored his second goal of the window in the 47th minute to rescue an important road point for Jamaica in the 1-1 draw on Sept. 8.

After conceding first in all three matches and with only one point to show so far, Jamaica will have a lot of work to do as they visit the USA (Oct. 7), host Canada (Oct. 10) and go back on the road to Honduras (Oct. 13).

 

CURRENT ROSTER

The Reggae Boyz roster is dominated by 21 players who compete overseas, mostly with English teams (eight). Five players perform for Major League Soccer clubs and another two for USL Championship sides.

Sitting second on the English Premier League scoring charts with five goals this season, West Ham United striker Michail Antonio headlines the list of English-based players on the roster. He’s joined by goalkeeper Dillon Barnes (Queens Park Rangers), defenders Ethan Pinnock (Brentford), Liam Moore (Reading), midfielder Daniel Johnson (Preston North End) and forwards Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham), Andre Gray (Queens Park Rangers) and Jamal Lowe (AFC Bournemouth).

 

Other overseas-based players include defender Damion Lowe (Al-Ittihad, Egypt), midfielders Kemar Roofe (Rangers, Scotland) and Tyreek Magee (Eupen, Belgium) and forward Shamar Nicholson (Charleroi, Belgium), who has scored both of Jamaica’s goals in the Octagonal.

The Philadelphia Union is the most represented MLS squad with two players - goalkeeper Andre Blake and defender Alvas Powell. The USL Championship has two players - midfielder Devon Williams (Miami FC) and forward Junior Flemmings (Birmingham Legion). Besides the Union duo, Jamaica also boasts players from the LA Galaxy (defender Oniel Fisher), Toronto FC (defender Kemar Lawrence) and (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) Javain Brown.

Backup goalkeeper Dennis Taylor and defender Je-Vaughn Watson are the only two domestic-based players, playing for Humble Lions F.C. of the Jamaica National Premier League. Defender Adrian Mariappa, who last played for Bristol City (England) is unattached.