Caribbean teams shine bright at 2015 Gold Cup

By Aldwyn McGill

The big story of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup is the impressive showing of the Caribbean teams.

After covering the previous four tournaments, the 2015 Gold Cup is the best finish for the Caribbean Football Union representatives and possibly the best on record.

Three of the four Caribbean teams have already secured a spot in the upcoming Gold Cup quarter finals and that is with the possibility of a fourth if Cuba can defeat Guatemala in their final Group C match schedule to be played at press time.

In Group B, Jamaica Reggae Boyz defeated El Salvador 1-0 at BMO Field in Toronto Tuesday to capture the group title. Garath McCleary scored in the 72nd minute to secure the win in the first-ever CONCACAF Gold Cup game played in Canada.

It was a gutsy performance by the Reggae Boyz who entered the match leading the group with four points and a testy 90 minutes for Jamaica coach Winfried Shafer who had to watch three of his starting players leave the field of play without having any direct input to the situation.

Shafer was forced to make changes after watching his injured defender Jermaine Taylor and goalkeeper Dwayne Miller (24) taken off  in the ninth minute and 24th minute respectively and forward Darren Mattocks red (two yellow cards) with 10 minutes remaining.

But in the end his team captured the group title with seven points (2-1-0) ahead of second place Costa Rica. In the road ahead Jamaica plays the second place Group B opponent which happens to be Haiti on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

In Group A, Haiti advanced to its third ever quarter finals after defeating Honduras 1-0 in the third group match at Sporting Park Stadium in Kansas City last Monday.

Duckens Nazon’s first half goal enabled Haiti to finish second with four points (1-1-1) to USA to clinch its first quarter final berth since 2009. Honduras on the other hand was eliminated for the first time since 2003 after having reached the semifinals at the last three tournaments.

Panama in turn finished third with three points (0-3-0) and may play the winner of the Group C match-up between Mexico and T&T.

In Group C, Trinidad and Tobago sealed an early spot to the quarter finals from a 2-0 win over Cuba in its second group match played at University of Phoenix Stadium last Sunday.

Riding the rhythm of early leads coach Stephen Hart and his Soca Warriors method of operation at the 2015 Gold Cup has been effective thus far and Sheldon Bateau’s goal in the 17th minute has given T&T an unblemished 2-0-0 record and allowed a 2-0 win.

That was different to the opening match against Guatemala at Soldier Field in Chicago where the Soca Warriors’ early 3-0 first half lead set up a lacklustre second half performance, T&T doubled its score when Andre Boucaud of Notts County led in the 43rd minute with a well-timed right footed volley from 17-yards out to secure the win.

Despite criticism of the team’s overall play, Soca Warriors supporters are encouraged that their team has registered only its second shutout in 25 all-time Gold Cup outings against Cuba before facing a Mexico team coming off a scoreless game by a 10-man Guatemala team.

Tune into to watch a Guatemala team which has every intention of continuing their defensive efforts to defeat Cuba (at press time) to advance to the quarter finals, or a Cuba tam which is aware of history in the making for four Caribbean teams to advance to the 2015 Gold Cup quarter finals.

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Trinidad and Tobago fans show their colours as their team beat Cuba (left). The Jamaican team (center) was cheered to victory (right) over El Salvador.

Photos by Aldwyn McGill.