2017 Gold Cup: Jamaica come from behind to tie El Salvador

Darren Mattocks’ second half penalty gave Jamaica a point against El Salvador in their final group match and kept their undefeated record at this year’s Gold Cup intact…

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REPORTING FROM THE ALAMODOME, SAN ANTONIO – The Reggae Boyz came from a goal down to draw against El Salvador in their final Group C encounter after Darren Mattocks scored from the spot in the second half.

Theodore Whitmore said leading up to the game that his players would play an attacking style of football and set up more offensively than they did against Mexico, although they struggled to create much of note in the final third. The formation changed from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 with Cory Burke remaining on the right wing and Romario Williams coming back into the fold, partnering Mattocks up front.

The Central American side had the better of the first half. They went ahead through Nelson Bonilla, who raced past Damion Lowe and produced a left-footed finish from a tight angle. For the first time in the tournament, Jamaica had conceded. How would they respond?

The response was tentative. They tried to look for Oniel Fisher down the right as an option in behind, as well as Alvas Powell. The latter was played in by Lowe and picked out Williams inside the box, but the Charleston Battery man’s effort was parried away by the keeper. Whitmore’s side needed to move the ball with a bit more zip and purpose and make more of their opportunities to hurt the opposition on the counter-attack.

A change was made at half-time: Owayne Gordon on for Cory Burke in a like-for-like swap. Burke had gone off on a stretcher against Mexico so perhaps he was feeling something. Gordon offered dribbling ability and speed down the flanks.

Jamaica were awarded a penalty just after the hour mark. Mattocks stepped up and confidently struck the ball into the bottom right corner. It was a well placed penalty and restored parity between the two teams.

Jamaica finished the group stages with an undefeated record of one win and two draws in three matches. They finished second in Group C and will face Canada in the quarter-finals, where they’ll be the Caribbean’s sole representative.

Post-match quotes below.

Darren Mattocks (Jamaica): “If we play like this, we aren’t going to get past the quarter-finals. This wasn’t good enough. Andre made some fantastic saves to keep it at 1-0. We were chasing the game and were fortunate to get a penalty. But we need a reality check because it just wasn’t good enough from us. I would say it’s down to complacency from all the players. We’re not trying to be complacent but it’s just there. We play a very good Canada team on Thursday.” On scoring the penalty: “As soon as we got it, I knew I was going to take it. We planned it in practice. It was very important not to lose this game.”

Andre Blake (Jamaica): “I think we kept the ball a little better than the first two games. It’s still work in progress but I think we had two big chances in the first half to kill the game off but such is football. They scored an early goal and we were able to fight back so that’s good for usWe stuck together and were able to fight back.” On looking forward to the quarter-finals: “Now it’s knockout so we’re going to have to approach the Canada game in the right way. We need the right mentality to adjust to the game, for us to survive and advance. It’s a very young team. For us it’s a rebuilding process and we’re pretty happy with where we’re at right now. A lot of people didn’t expect us to get out of the group which is okay, but we believe in ourselves. The sky is the limit and we need to keep pushing.”

Jerome Waite (assistant coach, Jamaica): “I don’t think the Jamaican team played well today. We played in spurts but the one thing we can take from this game is that we showed character to come from behind and score a goal. But it could have been more difficult for El Salvador as we created so many chances. It’s a learning process and we’re just looking forward to the next round.”

Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica): “This was a tough game. I thought we could have put them away early and for that I was disappointed, not to get this game over with. Maybe the coach could have made a couple of early changes. That didn’t happen and we gave El Salvador a drawexactly what they wantedand made the game more difficult than it was.” On the defensive solidity: “I think it’s shape. That’s one of our main focuses: not to let anybody break us down. Defensively it’s not just the back four and the goalkeeper, it’s all 11 players shifting as a team. One of the best teams in this tournament is probably Mexico. If you watch our game against them, they were just trying to put balls out wide and whip them inWe have a couple of six footers at the back so we can deal with that all day. It’s all about keeping everything in front of us.” On looking forward to the quarter-finals: “Every game going forward is about keeping a clean sheet and trying to find one or two goals. It’s been really hard so far every team we’ve played. We must be doing something right. We just want to play a little smoother going forward.”

Damion Lowe (Jamaica): “We started flat and slow. We lost concentration but that happens. You have to be focused for 90 minutes otherwise you’ll get punished. We got a penalty and finished it. We’re through to the next round so we’re not going to kill ourselves too much.” On the defensive solidity: “I think it’s communication. It’s a loud stadium so we can’t speak as much on the pitch. We try to work hard on the training ground to stay on the same page.”

Jamaica starting lineup: Blake (C), Powell, Taylor, Lowe, Lawrence, Lambert, Watson, Fisher, Burke, Mattocks, Williams.

Subs: Gordon – Burke. Binns – Fisher. Unused: Miller, Hyatt, Harriott, Richie, Campbell, Francis, Grandison, Morris, Johnson, Nicholson.

El Salvador starting lineup: Carrillo, Tamacas, Romero, Mancia, Marroquin, Orellana, Pineda, Mayen, Darwin Ceren (C), Zelaya, Bonilla.

Subs: Oscar Ceren – Mayen. Alas – Orellana. Unused: Arroyo, Villalobos, Sanchez, Garcia, Larin, Flores, Burgos, Dominguez, Menjivar, Molina.

Referee: Jair Marrufo (USA). Assistant referee 1: Frank Anderson (USA). Assistant referee 2: Corey Rockwell (USA). Fourth official: Henry Bejarano (Costa Rica). Match commissioner: Ramon Cardoze (Panama).

By Nathan Carr

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