MIAMI, Florida --- Towering central defender Damion Lowe thinks that reaching consecutive Gold Cup finals in 2015 and 2017 is a strong statement that Jamaica is indeed one of Concacaf’s best national teams.
The Reggae Boyz reached their first final in 2015 when they lost to giants Mexico 3-1, but proved the achievement was no fluke when they repeated the feat two years later.
In the 2017 edition of the confederation’s flagship competition, the Boyz went down to the United States, 2-1, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Not clinching the title with their second bite at the cherry was a source of disappointment, but Lowe believes that Jamaica being able to display its competitive capacity in the tournament underscored that the nation’s football was coming of age.
“Playing against the U.S. is always a grudge match, and we were very disappointed that we were not able to defeat them in the final, but not every fairytale has a great ending.
“But getting to the final in itself gave us experience and it stabilized, if not built on, our image and reputation as one of the best in Concacaf,” said Lowe in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
The 27-year-old, who recently plied his trade in Norway with IK Start, said that while the final was the match that placed Jamaica in the ideal position to lift its first title, the entire tournament was a body of lessons worth noting for the future.
In Group C, Jamaica opened with a 2-0 win over Curacao in a revenge match of sorts as the latter had defeated the Boyz for the Caribbean Cup title just mere weeks prior.
“The Curacao game was a grudge match because they had beaten us in the Caribbean Cup final. But at the Gold Cup they had only two chances to score, and we were a better team right throughout,” said Lowe.
In the team’s 0-0 draw with Mexico, which Jamaica later defeated 1-0 in the semi-finals, the former Seattle Sounders player thought it required total discipline and concentration to avoid a defeat.
“This game was about total focus and playing to our strengths, especially going up against a Concacaf powerhouse. We were a newly revived team and a good result was necessary,” Lowe stated.
In the final group encounter against Central American outfit El Salvador, the Boyz had to settle for a 1-1 draw, even as they aspired for a win that could have possibly taken them to the top of the group.
“Going into this game we rotated the team a bit as we were already through. But, yes, we wanted to top the group. To be honest, this wasn’t our best game,” said the former Tampa Bay Rowdies man.
Mexico won the group with seven points, followed by Jamaica with five, then El Salvador on four and Curacao at the bottom without a point.
As Jamaica progressed to the quarter-finals, they came up on a very spirited Canada, which Lowe described as “a very good team”.
“In that tournament we were too motivated and focused to be beaten. We were a team full of players wanting to make a name and this game would be the perfect one. Winning this would set us up nicely to get to the final,” he said as Jamaica edged the Canadian 2-1 to move on to the semi-finals.
Lowe paused to recognize Jamaica captain and goal-keeper Andre Blake for an outstanding tournament, where he was adjudged the Gold Cup’s top custodian.
“He [Blake] has been Concacaf’s best for many years, hands down. And he truly deserved the award for best goal-keeper,” concluded Lowe.
With those back-to-back finals and a semifinal appearance in 2019, Jamaica is poised to remain among Concacaf’s elite for years to come.