MIAMI, Florida --- Jamaica’s football has seen ripe harvest in the most recent past, especially as it relates to Concacaf competitions.
The Reggae Boyz, in particular, have seen their stocks rise in the confederation, a journey underlined by their appearance in back-to-back finals of the Gold Cup, Concacaf’s marquee tournament.
The Jamaicans came close to their first title when they lost 3-1 to Mexico in the 2015 final in Philadelphia.
Two years later, they again navigated their way to the championship game, this time losing marginally to the United States, 2-1, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Before 63,032 fans inside the stadium, Jozy Altidore (45’) and Jordan Morris (88’) scored for the U.S., who won its sixth title. while Je-Vaughn Watson got Jamaica’s consolation goal in the 50’.
But before that decisive game, Jamaica and Mexico engaged in an epic semi-final match at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, with wide left-side player Kemar Lawrence punctuating the night with a majestic free-kick late in the contest to give his team a 1-0 win and a place in the final.
This was the second meeting in the competition between the two nations, having chiselled a 0-0 in their Group C encounter at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado.
As stated by central defender Damion Lowe, who was a key member of Jamaica’s push in 2017, the game plan in the crucial semi-final encounter was anchored on research and sound tactics.
“There was a lot of tension in the air before the game, but we did our homework and studied their weaknesses from the group game. We knew how solid we were and knew it would not be easy for them to score on us.
“We knew if we stayed in the game as long as possible, we would get a chance to win. We were structured pretty well; yes, they are a very organized team, but we had iron in the back and pace up top and we used this to our advantage,” Lowe told Concacaf.com.
He said a combination of physical conditioning and soaring belief in the team came together to the benefit of the effort.
“We were fitter than they were, or I don’t know if it was just that we were more fearless, but you could see that they were getting tired having to be countering or restarting their attack every time,” noted Lowe as he reflected on the first half of the contest.
“The second half was the same thing, as we pressed them early and that tactic frustrated them and we kept it up throughout,” said the former Seattle Sounders man.
With both teams slugging it out, the Boyz won a free-kick from distance, setting the stage for the game’s magical moment.
“When we got the free kick, we had like four guys on the field that could kick it. [Michael] Binns was the man in form at the time, but when he stepped up, he noticed it wasn’t his range, so Kemar [Lawrence] stepped up and curled it into top corner,” said Lowe.
The 27-year-old player recalled that when they final whistle sounded and it was clear Jamaica had won the match, he could hardly contain his emotions.
“It was all joy and emotions [as] I cried tears of joy because everyone counted us out and we delivered. Our spiritual connection throughout the tournament allowed us to stay focused and humble,” concluded Lowe.