SAN DIEGO, California – Jamaica’s bid for a return to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final got off to a bright start Sunday with a 2-0 win over Curacao at Qualcomm Stadium.
The same teams met only two weeks earlier in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup final, with the Curacaoans prevailing, 2-1.
Two years ago, the Reggae Boyz fell 3-1 to Mexico in the Gold Cup decider. Only two players – defender Kemar Lawrence and midfielder Je-Watson – started that game and the Group C opener as many European-based stars were not called up for the biennial competition.
After a scoreless first half, the match burst to life in the 58th minute thanks to a thunderbolt from Jamaica’s Romario Williams. Courtesy of a well-measured pass down the right side by Je-Vaughn Watson, Williams was able to uncork a right-footed shot from an unkind angle in between the near post and goalkeeper Eloy Room.
Five minutes later, Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake showed why he earned man of the match honors. Curacao’s Gevaro Nepomuceno drilled a venomous shot from distance, but the 2016 MLS goalkeeper of the year reacted acrobatically to tip the ball over the crossbar.
One of the stars of Jamaica’s 2015 campaign netted an insurance goal in the 73rd minute. Kemar Lawrence delivered a cross from the left that found Darren Mattocks, who first got a touch on to the ball and then pounded it home with his left off the bounce from 12-yards out. Mattocks extended his Gold Cup scoring streak to three consecutive games.
Defender Damion Lowe made his Gold Cup debut for Jamaica nearly 14 years to the day that his father – Onandi Lowe – scored his only Gold Cup goal against Guatemala (30th min., 2-0 win).
Next up on July 13: At Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado, Curacao will face El Salvador, while Jamaica and Mexico will square in rematch of their 2015 final.