Jamaica cruise as Guatemala hold on
Day 2 brought the first-ever CONCACAF Gold Cup meetings between Jamaica and Grenada, and Honduras and Guatemala, at The Home Depot Center. Under the tutelage of Theodore Whitmore, Jamaica’s recent work on finishing paid off as the Reggae Boyz scored four unanswered goals, denying their Caribbean challengers any chance of an upset. And, in a fierier encounter between Central American rivals, a brave nine-man Guatemala side stunned 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ participants Honduras, holding on for a 0-0 draw.
Jamaica 4–0 Grenada
Honduras 0–0 Guatemala
The day replayed – While it was Jamaica and Grenada's first Gold Cup meeting, the two sides had recently met in the Caribbean Cup semi-final in December with Jamaica taking an extra-time edge for a 2-1 victory. Grenada entered today’s match keen on taking revenge, but the Spice Boyz could muster little on the attacking front. Jamaica took control of the match early, and the deft touch of prolific goalscorer Luton Shelton put them ahead in the 21st minute. With finishing in mind after scoring just one goal in their last Gold Cup appearance, Jamaica found the net again as Ryan Johnson tapped home to round out the first half. Jamaica denied Grenada any real chances, and capped off the night with a late second-half flurry of goals from Demar Phillips and Omar Daley.
Honduras almost enjoyed a perfect start to the evening in front of a anticipating crowd at the Home Depot Center, with Carlos Costly shooting just wide of the goal in the second minute. The Guatemalans were on the back foot almost immediately, but soon embarked on some attacking forays of their own, spearheaded by Carlos El Pescadito Ruiz. The captain watched a header go wide in the first quarter of an hour, then laid off a good chance for Chicago Fire midfielder Marco Pappa, whose proceeding shot flashed well over the bar.
Honduras had a superb chance of their own before the interval, but luck was not on their side as Oscar Garcia’s rising shot bounced off the bar into goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez’s hands. Honduras enjoyed a better start to the second half, and were given an edge in the 61st minute after Gustavo Cabrera was sent off for a second yellow card. And, in a shocking turn of events, Guatemala dropped down to nine men after Henry Medina was cautioned twice in the space of just five minutes. In a hotly contested final ten minutes, Guatemala defended with what was left of their team and held on for the draw.
3 – The number of months Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez has been in charge of the squad. Since winning the 2011 Copa Centroamericana in January, the South Africa 2010 participants have suffered a dip in form, and Suarez – appointed in March - has had little time to familiarise himself with the players.
Player of the day
Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala)
Guatemala came out aiming to impress against a favoured Honduran side, and veteran-striker Carlos Ruiz played a vital role in establishing calm in a team reduced to nine men for the final 11 minutes of play. Despite a strong opening from Honduras, Ruiz assumed leadership of Guatemala’s attack and soon earned his team several chances in front of goal. The veteran most notably produced openings in the first-half, earning a dangerous free-kick in front of goal and then knocking a header wide of the post. And while neither team found a breakthrough, Los Chapines’ were likely relishing the return of their captain, who had previously retired from international football in 2009.
Goal of the day
Jamaica-Grenada, Luton Shelton (21’)
While there were four goals to choose from in Jamaica’s 4-0 thrashing of Grenada, the Reggae Boyz’ all-time leading goalscorer Luton Shelton got the ball rolling in the 21st minute. After close attention had been paid to converting set plays ahead of today’s match, Rodolph Austin put practice into motion as he sent a short corner in for Shelton who touched it back. Austin then curled the ball into the area, and Shelton made no mistake, knocking the ball over goalkeeper Shemel Louison.
Quote of the day
"We looked at this as our toughest assignment as a Caribbean team. The Grenadians played the sort of game we expected them to play. They have the same team that played in the Digicel Caribbean Cup and we expected them to sit back, but once we kept the ball moving we knew it would kill them off," Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore.
On Tuesday 7 June, 2005 Gold Cup runners-up Panama will look to reinforce confidence in their side against Caribbean minnows Guadeloupe, after a strong defensive display at the 2011 Copa Centroamericana. To top off the night, 2007 Gold Cup victors USA take on Canada at Ford Field, hopeful of a promising start in their effort to regain the cup from Mexico.
Have your say
Who do you favour to take top spot in Group B? With a draw between Guatemala and Honduras, and a convincing victory from Jamaica over Grenada, FIFA.com wants to know who you think has what it takes to advance in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.