Jamaica looks to learn from CU20 experience

Jamaica's Khalil Stewart (yellow jersey) in 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship action against the USA. (Photo: Mexsport)

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – After Jamaica recovered from a two-goal deficit in its 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship opener to earn a 2-2 tie with Trinidad & Tobago, there was a noticeable air of optimism that the young Reggae Boyz could make an impression on the competition. 

Initial jitters from playing in front of the home fans had subsided and getting a point against the Caribbean champion was a creditable result.

Rather than being able to build on that foundation, the young Reggae Boyz lost three straight matches and -- with one Group A game remaining -- were eliminated after falling 2-0 to the U.S. on Sunday.

“I’m very disappointed,” head coach Theodore Whitmore expressed after the match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.  “Injury was a major factor and in today’s game, again, one of our most influential players, Junior Flemmings, red card out. 

“We know we’re up against a tough opponent.  Basically, I think we could have gotten something out of the game.”

The electric Flemmings had scored one of Jamaica’s two goals, netting the equalizer against the Trinidadians off a marvelous free kick in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.

Since that jubilant snapshot, the tournament host has not found the back of the net.

“We gave up some goals tonight, two penalties which could have been avoided,” Whitmore added.  “I think we didn’t create enough scoring opportunities to beat this U.S. team.”

The Jamaican defense, to its credit, conceded only five goals during the current losing streak, two of which were penalties converted by the USA’s Romain Gall, the tournament’s joint-top scorer with five tallies.

When asked what could have been done to change the course of events, Whitmore said that he would prepare a report with his analysis and share it with the Jamaica Football Federation’s technical committee, remarking:  “Going in, we had to look at it, going to the (Jamaican) Premier League teams and look for the players who are at the age who can represent.  We knew it was a tough tournament, where we were playing against professional players.

“It’s a learning process.” 

Jamaica concludes its CONCACAF Under-20 Championship participation on Thursday against Aruba (8:00 p.m. ET).