News/SportsReggae Boyz

Late, Late Horror Show Denies Jamaica

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Heimir Hallgrimsson’s depleted Jamaica side came perilously close to pulling off a shock success over the United States in Dallas last night (21 March).

The Reggae Boyz, missing a handful of top-class strikers, finished as 3-1 victims to the resilient hosts after extra time. This was despite sensationally breaking the deadlock after 31 seconds to stun the US in their CONCACAF Nations League semi-final showdown.

Jamaica frustrated the US inside the AT&T stadium, especially with their tactical fouls and other tricks to slow down the tempo, only to concede with the last kick of regular time.

In extra time it was always going to be a struggle for the Caribbean outfit, who with weary legs and looking disjointed following the endless substitutions, conceded twice to end their interest in potentially claiming their first continental trophy.


Jamaica made a remarkable start to the tie, soaring into an unexpected lead on 31 seconds.

Bobby Decordova-Reid sent in a deep cross, which Gregory Leigh superbly polished off with a powerful header after racing into the box to leave Joe Scally in his wake.

Leigh’s maiden international goal silenced the home fans, who were left with little to cheer about during a scrappy opening 45 minutes.

The most exciting goalmouth action arrived midway through the first half.

Renaldo Cephas skipped past the lacklustre defence then unleashed a stinging shot that home keeper Matt Turner dealt with on the 20-minute mark.

The US immediately responded by rushing down the other end of the pitch, but Christian Pulisic was unable to finish off Folarin Balogun’s superb pass.

With the Boyz in control, despite hardly having any possession, they went into the break with a slender lead. They must have been relieved that Malik Tillman somehow pushed his effort wide of the target on the brink of the half-time whistle.


After the turnaround the US appeared desperate to snatch an equaliser, with head coach Gregg Berhalter throwing caution to the wind by unleashing all five substitutes by the 72nd minute.

Jamaica came close to extending their lead. But Turner denied livewire Cephas, and substitute Kasey Palmer sent his shot sailing over the crossbar despite Turner being badly out of position.

Ricardo Pepi fluffed his golden chance to level the score in the first minute of stoppage time. He shot his effort from point-blank range into the ground, which Andre Blake comfortably saved with an exaggerated jump.

Hallgrimsson appeared to have masterminded an incredible victory. To slow things down he hauled off Decordova-Reid and threw on defender Tayvon Gray in the second minute of stoppage time.

This decision backfired on Jamaica, with the officials extending the stoppage from four minutes to five because of Decordova-Reid’s apparent slowness in leaving the pitch that was deemed to be time wasting.

The US were gifted a final chance, courtesy of this added minute. Christian Pulisic swung in a telling corner that Miles Robinson headed towards goal, which Cory Burke deflected past Blake. The clock showed 95 minutes and 24 seconds, which was the last piece of regular time action.

As renowned comeback kings, the US seized control in extra time and breezed into the Nations League final thanks to a Haji Wright brace. The defending champions will tackle Mexico, who thrashed Panama 3-0, in the final.

Wright, a recent FA Cup hero for English Championship club Coventry City with a quarter-final stoppage-time winner against Wolverhampton Wanderers, was twice set up by Gio Reyna to slam home goals on 96 and 109 minutes.

After trailing 2-1, Hallgrimsson withdrew his two goalscorers by sending on a pair of exciting strikers on 102 minutes. Jamaica-based teenage hot-shot Kaheim Dixon replaced Leigh and Romario Williams came on for Burke, yet this much-needed firepower found the US too hot to handle.


Jamaica will need to lick their wounds before they face Panama in the third/fourth play-off at the same stadium. The Boyz will welcome back influential forwards Demarai Gray and Shamari Nicholson from suspension.

Panama have collected four victories from their past five contests against the Boyz. Jamaica’s only win in nine encounters against Panama was their 2019 Gold Cup 1-0 triumph

JAMAICA | Blake – Latibeaudiere, Hector, Bernard – Leigh (Dixon, 102), D.Lowe, Palmer (Anderson, 73), Lembikisa – Cephas (Burke, 73 – Williams, 102), J.Lowe (Johnson, 65), Decordova-Reid (Gray, 90) Subs: King, Davis, Waite

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