Mighty USA highly fancied to cool Reggae Boyz in Gold Cup final
Jamaica’s Shaun Francis (#7) goes to celebrate after scoring against Canada during their CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal on July 20, 2017, in Glendale, Arizona, USA. (PHOTO: CONCACAF.COM).
Experienced USA coach Bruce Arena believes that Jamaica's Reggae Boyz represent a real hurdle in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Wednesday night.
The two teams will face off at the Levi's Stadium in the USA, starting at 6:30 pm (8:30 pm Jamaica time).
The Reggae Boyz are in their second straight final and will be trying to create history as they can become the first non-North American team to win the competition since CONCACAF relaunched and rebranded its flagship event in 1991.
“They’re a different kind of Jamaican team than we’ve seen in the past,” Arena said. “They have a lot of discipline. They are very strong defensively and they’re hard to play against. That, to me, is not what you typically see out of a Jamaican team.”
The Reggae Boyz are anchored by MLS players like Darren Mattocks, Je-Vaughn Watson and Shaun Francis and without the England-based players they were expected to bow out in the preliminary round.
However, they have proved all wrong and have yielded just two goals in five games.
The Reggae Boyz got to the final courtesy of a massive upset, which few saw coming, against heavy favourite Mexico on Sunday.
A brilliant 88th minute free-kick goal from Kemar Lawrence secured a 1-0 victory over Mexico and pushed the Reggae Boyz in the final against USA, a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup semifinals, which Jamaica won.
A day after his heroics, Lawrence was looking forward, not backward.
He said, "the guys had some laughter last night. That's all over now. We know the goal at hand. We know what we want to do and we want to make history. There is only one way to do that and that's beating the USA."
The USA, with an opportunity to win their sixth major title, will start as a big favourite tonight and rightly so. They are on a high since Arena took over from Jurgen Klinsman last November.
Arena has gone undefeated in his first 13 games in charge and has now led them to a record 10th Gold Cup final.
He has found the right chemistry with the team since the sacking of Klinsman.
“We started [the Gold Cup] to try to win the thing so its not like we were every going to think that what we were doing wasn’t going to work, or else we wouldn’t have done it,” Arena told reporters.
“You make one change and you’re concerned about it, let alone 11. Every game we played, you’re never quite certain what you’re going to get. But overall, we thought the plan we had would work.”