Since their impressive show earlier this summer in the Confederations Cup, it was expected that Mexico will be the overwhelming favourites to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup for a record 8th time on American soil, even though much of the first team players were unavailable for the knock out stages of the tournament.
Since USA qualified for the finals, the day before (getting the better of Costa Rica), the football lovers all over were again hoping for a title showdown between the two North American powerhouses in Thursday’s (IST) final. But sadly their run came to a screeching halt in the semis after conceding in the dying moments to Jamaica.
Vying for a final showdown against their arch rivals, Mexico locked horns with the Caribbean Cup runners Jamaica in the second semi final match at Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The El Tri were aggressive right from the start with Erick Torres coming close on more than one occasion. He was denied by the Jamaican Custodian Andre Blake. The Jamaican captain also made a few more great saves to deny the defending champions.
The Caribbeans came close on a few occasions as well and they were denied by Blake’s counterpart José de Jesús Corona Rodríguez. Corona produced a save that would have made his senior colleague Guillermo Ochoa proud.
The deadlock was finally broken with 2 minutes of regulation time left on the clock, when LA Galaxy fullback Kemar Lawrence scored the all important goal. The 24-year old curled in a perfect left footer from a free kick that gave the brilliant Corona no chance to move or react turning hero for the Reggae Boyz. His goal took Theodore Whitmore’s men (back to back) to their second ever final in the history of the tournament.
The Jamaicans avenged their final loss from two years back. They will be facing the hosts USA in the title match where the Stars and Stripes will be looking for their sixth Gold Cup triumph.
However, the Jamaicans are hoping for a miracle to become the first ever Caribbean team to win the Gold Cup. They will be certainly going all guns blazing under the guidance of the man who scored twice in Jamaica’s solitary FIFA World Cup victory.
The Jamaicans had earlier finished second in Group C behind Mexico and ahead of El Salvador and Curaçao. They also got the better of Canada in the quarters.