The play of defender Kemar Lawrence (yellow jersey) has helped put Jamaica into position to reach the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals for the first time since 1993. (Photo: Mexsport)
BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Defender Kemar Lawrence's first item of business Saturday is to make sure Jamaica keeps a clean sheet and defeats Haiti in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals.
He has some personal business to take care of as well. The 22-year-old left back wants to make sure he is the last New York Red Bulls defender standing in the competition.
In a rarity, three defenders from the same professional club in Major League Soccer have not only participated in the tournament, but competed in the same group -- Group B. Also included in that trio is Canada’s Karl W. Ouimette and Roy Miller of Costa Rica. The Canadians were eliminated and the Central American champion reached the knockout rounds.
"We just wished each other good luck and prayed for each other," Lawrence said after practice at Stevenson University Friday. “It's about who's going home second right now and I definitely don't want that to be Jamaica."
Lawrence then laughed.
"I hope its Roy or I hope we meet in the final," he remarked.
Regardless of what transpires beyond this weekend, this already has been a historic tournament.
For the first time, four Caribbean sides have earned quarterfinal berths in the same tournament -- Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica. A Caribbean team is guaranteed a semifinal spot – either the Reggae Boyz or Haitians -- and cannot finish lower than fourth place.
The United States faces the Cubans here Saturday. Trinidad meets Panama in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday.
Needless to say, Lawrence was quite proud of the Caribbean teams' accomplishment, calling it "really historical” and attributing their success to work ethic and mentality.
"Everyone wants to push their country," Lawrence finished. "Everyone wants to be better. Everyone wants to be in the top rankings. Everyone wants to be the best.
"It's really a great feeling to see so many Caribbean teams in the quarterfinals.”
Lawrence will have even a better feeling if Jamaica reached the semifinals.