Every two years nations from across CONCACAF (the Fifa region including the US, Mexico, and Canada) meet in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The current iteration of the tournament dates to 1991 when CONCACAF officials canceled the CONCACAF championship. That first Gold Cup was hosted by the United States as they went on to win the inaugural competition. Since 1991, the tournament has been dominated by Mexico (7 titles) and the US (6 titles). Canada has been the only other nation to lift the cup when they defeated Columbia in 2000.
Since 2015, there has been another nation on the rise. Jamaica has made it to the last two finals of the Gold Cup. In 2015, they defeated the US 2-1 with goals from Giles Barnes and Darren Mattocks. They would go on to the final against a very strong Mexican team and lose 3-1. In 2017, the teams would be reversed. In a very nervy semi-final game against Mexico Kemar Lawerence scored a stunner off a free kick in the 88th minute to send them to their second straight final. In the final, they would lose 2-1 to the US with an 88th minute winner from Jordan Morris.
This year the Reggae Boyz are looking to make another run to the final, but are looking for a very different outcome. This year’s squad looks stronger than 2017’s and they will be out to show CONCACAF that they should be in the conversation when it comes to powerhouse nations in the region. I want to break down two reasons why I believe Jamaica will win the 2019 Gold Cup.
Teams To Watch In The CONCACAF Gold Cup
Out of the three teams that have been at the front of this competition the last four years, Jamaica has the harder group. Mexico will face Canada, Martinique, and Cuba in group A. The only real test for them in that group might be Canada. The US sit in group D with Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Panama. While Trinidad and Tobago kept the US out of the 2018 World Cup, Panama will be the only real competition for them.
Jamaica sits in group D with Curacao, Honduras, and El Salvador. Honduras and El Salvador both made it out of the group stage in 2017. This has Jamaica facing stiffer competition earlier on in the tournament. With Mexico and the US could become complacent facing easier opposition in the group stage it could cause them to overlook a team like Jamaica in the knockout stage. We saw this in 2015 when Jamaica shocked the US in the semi-finals. Jamaica will kick off their quest for the cup on June 17th against Honduras.
Players To Watch For The "Reggae Boyz"
Jamaica is going to field an even stronger squad at this Gold Cup than they have at the previous two. We will still see Andre Blake at the back appearing in his third Gold Cup tournament. An excellent goalkeeper who currently play for the Philadelphia Union in the MLS. Blake is currently rated as the second best keeper in the MLS with 3 clean sheets in twelve appearances. He will need to have a big tournament for Jamaica and he is more than capable of producing game winning saves.
Two big additions for Jamaica are Leon Bailey and Junior Flemmings. Leon Bailey is a highly touted winger from Bayern Leverkusen. At 21, he has been linked with a move to major clubs in Europe. This past season he made 29 appearances in the Bundesliga scoring five goals with three assists. Junior Flemmings is a lesser known commodity on the international stage, but has been absolutely clinical for his club, Phoenix Rising FC in the USL. This season Flemmings has made 13 appearances scoring 8 goals and providing 7 assists. If Jamaica line up in a 4-2-3-1, they would be potent in attack with Bailey on the right wing and Flemmings on the left wing. This would stretch the defenses and allow both Bailey and Flemmings to feed the ball into Orgill (who looks set to start at center forward).
Jamaica National Football Team Gold Cup Prediction
This year’s Gold Cup should be one of the more exciting tournaments we have seen in recent memory both with the expanded field and the transition of the US team. I believe that Jamaica will win their group with three victories. The knockout games all depend on how the groups end so that is hard to predict. I don’t see the US making through to the final considering they are still trying to figure out how to play a very complicated system under Berhalter. This would leave Jamaica and Mexico in the final which should be an exciting game. My money would be on the Reggae Boyz to lift the cup for the first time after a 2-1 victory in extra time.