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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. July 26, 2021: When it comes to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, it’s viewed mainly as a showdown between Mexico and the United States. Over the past 10 tournaments, each of these soccer-playing CONCACAF powerhouses have won five titles.

However, there’s another nation that has remained right there on the cusp of CONCACAF Gold Cup glory. Jamaica has earned a medal in each of the past three tournaments. Jamaica lost 3-1 to Mexico in the 2015 final and fell 2-1 to the USA in the 2017 final. Two years ago, Jamaica finished third in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Prior to those three tourneys, Jamaica was never a podium finisher. The Reggae Boyz ended up in fourth spot in 1998 and 1993 after losing in the bronze-medal match. Those who enjoy the chance to bet on sports in Canada can easily locate online betting sites offering odds on the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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A Winning Debut

Jamaica got its 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup journey off to a winning start via an impressive 2-0 decision over Suriname in their opening Group C match. It marked the third straight CONCACAF Gold Cup that the Jamaicans opened with a victory. The triumph also ended a four-match winless skid (0-2-2) for the Reggae Boyz.

Shamar Nicholson, who plays professionally in Belgium for Charleroi, netted the opening goal in the sixth minute with his third career goal in Gold Cup play – and his first international score since 2019. It was Jamaica’s first shot on goal of the match.

Midfielder Daniel Johnson of English club Preston North End set up Nicholson’s goal. Bobby Reid, a forward for Fulham in the English Football League, added a tally 20 minutes later to complete the scoring. Reid’s powerful volley from beyond the penalty area gave Suriname goalkeeper Warner Hahn no chance.

Though unable to find the back of the net, Suriname actually outshot Jamaica 10-7. Three of those shots were on target and all were handled by Jamaican goalkeeper Andre Blake, who plays for the Philadelphia Union in the MLS. Blake, captained the side He was making his first appearance for his country in over a year.

It was Blake’s first international clean sheet since a 2-0 shutout against Aruba in the CONCACAF Nations League in October of 2019. The Jamaican starting 11 included four players who made their international debuts this year.

Pundits Are Impressed

Their opening performance turned some heads among the soccer talking heads.

“They’re only going to get better,” Fox Sports soccer analyst and former USA national team player Alexi Lalas said of the Jamaican side.

Nearly half of the 23-player squad in the USA to represent Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup are English born and bred. Meshing these international players with the homebred talent is the challenge the Jamaican side must overcome in order to achieve success.

“[T]hat’s part of my job, and the job of the coaching staff, to make sure the players are reminded that it’s not all about talent, but going out there and [doing] the hard work,” Blake told the Jamaica Observer.

Jamaica is No. 47 in the FIFA rankings, while Suriname is at No. 136. Suriname has one win in six all-time matches against Jamaica.

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Advancing Through Group Stage

The Jamaicans went 2-1 through group play to earn a spot in the quarter-finals.

Jamaica’s second match in the group stage was a 2-1 win against qualifier Guadeloupe, 3-1 losers to Costa Rica in their opening match. The French Caribbean islanders were in the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time since 2011. They earned their spot by winning a place through the preliminary round.

Guadeloupe opened qualifying with a 2-0 verdict over the Bahamas. They followed up by defeating Guatemala 10-9 in a dramatic penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes and extra time. Since the country is not a member of FIFA, Guadeloupe is only permitted to participate in regional competitions.

The win over Guadaloupe left Jamaica are unbeaten in their last 11 group stage matches at the Gold Cup. However, the chances of a Guadeloupe side consisting mostly of amateurs giving the Reggae Boyz a run for their money was very remote. There are only eight professionals on Guadeloupe’s 23-player roster. Guadeloupe are managed by former French international defender Jocelyn Angloma.

Jamaica’s unbeaten run ended in the final group stage match via a 1-0 loss to the Costa Ricans. Jamaica then faced the USA in quarter-final action last night, Sunday, July 25th with a goal towards earning a semi-final spot.

However, despite a valiant battle that kept the match at 0-0 for most of play, a late goal by the Americans saw a repeat of the 2017 loss essentially and cost the Reggae Boz a chance at the semis.

Jamaica almost scored 14 seconds in after a bad exchange with the USA backline following the kickoff. Through about 20 minutes the teams played fast and frenetic soccer. The game was exciting and open though neither side could do much in the final third. But in the end the USMNT defeated Jamaica 1-0 with a solo goal from Matthew Hoppe, to terminate Jamaica’s dream of winning the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship.  

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