Jamaica shock Mexico to set up Gold Cup final against USA
Jamaica claimed victory at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, thanks to full-back Kemar Lawrence’s free-kick in the 88th minute.
Jamaica were indebted to goalkeeper Andre Blake for keeping them in the game, thanks to his superb double-save in the 11th minute and close-range save from Erick Torres in the 25th minute.
The Jamaicans had chances of their own through Jermaine Taylor's free-kick in the first half, which was well saved by Mexican ‘keeper Jose Corona. The Mexican stopper also denied Damion Lowe in the 78th minute, saving his headed effort.
In the end, however, the free-kick two minutes from the end from New York Red Bulls’ player Lawrence gave the 'Reggae Boyz' a spot in successive Gold Cup finals, and a degree of revenge over Mexico for their defeat in the final two years ago.
The two sides had played a goalless draw in the group stages of the tournament, and while Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio had named a much-changed squad from the one that took part in the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and early July, defending champions 'El Tri' were still expected to overcome their CONCACAF rivals and reach Wednesday’s showpiece.
The defeat will pile pressure onto Osorio, while after the game Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore praised his team's efforts.
"I think our guys were hungry. They needed it more than the Mexicans, and we did what we had to do.
"The best way I could put it is the Biblical story - David slew Goliath," Whitmore said, AP reported.
The final will see Jamaica take on USA, after the hosts beat Costa Rica 2-0 in their semifinal on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Late goals from striker Jozy Altidore – his 38th for the USMNT – and a record-equalling 57th international goal from Clint Dempsey were enough to propel the Stars and Stripes to the final.
Jordan Morris had earlier fired against the post for the US within the first 15 seconds of the game, and Kellyn Acosta also had a good chance on 15 minutes when he was found himself on the end of an Altidore cut-back, but he fired over the crossbar.
Costa Rica’s Marcos Urena had his team’s best chance of the first half, but saw his shot saved by the right boot of USA ‘keeper Tim Howard.
Costa Rica stopper Patrick Pemberton and USA ‘keeper Howard both made good saves to keep the score level in deep into the second half, before Altidore’s dinked effort gave the Americans the lead on 72 minutes and Dempsey’s free-kick 10 minutes later sealed the win.
The final takes place on Wednesday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, at 9.30pm local time.
Jamaica will be looking to win the title for the first time, while USA will be aiming to win claim victory for the sixth time at the tournament, to put them just one behind Mexico’s record seven tournament triumphs.
The 'Reggae Boyz' sprang a shock two years ago to defeat USA in the semifinal in Atlanta, and will be hoping to repeat that feat on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, El Salvador defender Henry Romero was banned for six games for biting USA striker Altidore during their quarterfinal, while Salvadoran captain Darwin Ceren will miss three games after biting US player Omar Gonzalez during the same game.
CONCACAF says the bans are for "anti-sporting behavior" and will only affect "official matches."