Thanks to overcoming Trinidad & Tobago on penalty kicks to win the Caribbean Cup in November, Jamaica enters the Gold Cup as a confident side.
The Reggae Boyz are rebounding nicely from missing out on the 2013 CONCACAF showcase and also finishing last in the final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with no wins in 10 games.
In June, they made their Copa America debut, competing with distinction. Despite dropping narrow 1-0 decisions to Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, the Jamaicans received high praise for their performances. It will be interesting to see observe their transition from the challenges of competing in the South American championship to the taking on CONCACAF’s best.
Head coach Winfried Schäfer is clearly building a side that contains depth, possessing the ability to select from a deepening pool of players performing in the English leagues, as well as Major League Soccer. Six of the squad were named to the 2014 Caribbean Cup’s Best XI, including Darren Mattocks, who was the finals’ joint-top scorer with three goals.
Midfielder and captain Rodolph Austin has been a key member of three Caribbean Cup-winning squads, lifting the trophy in 2008, 2010 and 2014. Last year, he won MVP honors as the Reggae Boyz went undefeated over the course of four games in seven days. The 30-year-old has carved out a productive career in Europe, playing for Norway’s Brann (2008-12) and Leeds United in England (2012-15). He has appeared in two Europa League matches and is still looking for his first-ever Gold Cup goal.
Another player to watch is defender Wes Morgan, who appeared in 37 of 38 games during a 2014/15 English Premier League campaign that saw Leicester City avoid relegation. The 31-year-old has never competed in the Gold Cup.
Trinidad & Tobago
PPL Park, a state-of-the-art 18,500-seat Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, serves as home to Philadelphia Union. Since opening its doors on June 27, 2010, it has hosted numerous events for multiple sports. In October 2014, the CONCACAF Women’s Championship finals were held there as the United States, Costa Rica and Mexico earned berths to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Two years earlier, the MLS All-Stars squared off against English-power Chelsea before a crowd of 19,236. PPL Park has been recognized on multiple occasions, winning awards from Mid Atlantic Construction Magazine for “Best Sports/Recreation Project of the Year,” the Delaware County Planning Commission for outstanding land projects in the County and the NCS4 Facility Achievement Award that honors venues that excel in safety and security operations.
City: Chester, Pennsylvania
Past Gold Cups:first-time venue
Field Size: 120 x 75