Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Jamaica form confounds Hexagonal expectations
by Ridge Mahoney, June 11th, 2013 3:35PM

TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014


By Ridge Mahoney

It seems as if many of the pundits, including this one, were wrong about the Hexagonal.

Yes, our projections of an intensely competitive Hex are bearing true. Heading into the fifth round of the 10-game series to be played Tuesday night, no team has a perfect record. Panama and Mexico are unbeaten, but have tied seven of their nine matches combined, including a 0-0 result head-to-head last Friday.

There’s a three-way tie at the top among Costa Rica, Mexico, and the USA with seven points apiece. A point back is Panama, which sat atop the group just five days ago, and another two points down the ladder is Honduras. The top three advance automatically to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and the fourth-place finisher faces a very winnable playoff against Oceania victor New Zealand.

So what didn’t we foresee? Each preceding Hexagonal featured at least one downtrodden straggler that rather quickly proved to be overmatched against the other five. (During the 2005 Hexagonal, for example, Panama accrued all of two points.) This time, so it seemed, there wasn’t going to be a minnow struggling against the current as the bigger, stronger fish moved upstream, and perhaps all six teams would stay in contention at least until the eighth round or even later.

Well, as results in the past week revealed, Jamaica is this edition’s runt. The only team yet to win a game, the Reggae Boyz have fallen to the bottom of the pack with just two points after back-to-back losses to Mexico (1-0) and the USA (2-1) at home. A revamped schedule necessitated by Mexico’s participation in the Confederations Cup required its game in Jamaica to be played June 4 instead of two weeks’ later, and the Mexicans obviously adjusted better than did the home team, securing a 1-0 victory.

That match may have drained and/or deflated the Jamaicans, for three days later they didn’t wake up -- except for a first-half Rodolph Austin shot that hit the post -- against the Americans until the final portion of the match. Trailing, 1-0, from the 30th minute when Jozy Altidore’s header put them behind, the Jamaicans resorted to their bad old habits of hasty crosses and wild shooting before knocking home a blatantly offside equalizer in the 89th minute.

Gifted a lifeline by the officials -- as well as some poor USA defending -- Jamaica couldn’t even hold onto the tie. Instead, the Americans worked a short corner and a stand-in right back, Brad Evans, escaped his marker to smack a shot past keeper Donovan Ricketts. After tying its first two games, including a heroic 0-0 result against Mexico in the Azteca Stadium, Jamaica has lost three straight and virtually fallen out of contention. Thus is shown how ruthless the Hex can be.

No doubt memories of the Jamaica's 1998 World Cup team, lead by current head coach Theodore Whitmore, swayed sentiment that the current version had a decent shot in the Hexagonal. But Whitmore's makeover that included importing several English-based players didn't   improve the team sufficiently.

Each team has one game left against Jamaica, starting tonight with Honduras in Tegucigalpa. To keep pace with the teams that have won in Kingston, Mexico and the USA, Costa Rica (on Sept. 10) and Honduras (Oct. 15) would need to beat the Reggae Boyz in “The Office” as well. How much resistance the dispirited Jamaicans can mount will probably be its only influence on the Hexagonal even though it has yet to reach the midway point. Though Panama led the Hex after three games, it could be fifth by tonight, if it loses to the USA in Seattle and Honduras beats Jamaica at home.

At this point, it’s quite possible that at least one or perhaps two slots might not be decided until the final Hexagonal round, but the colorful and exuberant island nation that lit up the 1998 World Cup won’t be in the frame.

  1. George Gorecki
    commented on: June 11, 2013 at 4:53 p.m.
    Jamaica "lit up" the 1998 World Cup? I would say that they were the ones who got lit up. They got smacked around by Croatia 3:1 and Argentina 5:0 and then saved face by beating bottom team Japan 2:1. You overrated them going into the 2013 Hex, but come on, don't rewrite history!
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: June 12, 2013 at 8:09 p.m.
    Being a two time visitor to the beautiful island, I will tell you, the Jamaican people are nearly distraught over what has taken place to their football team. I too, after seeing them knock us around in Sept. '12 thought they were assured a top three finish or at least get into the play-off with Oceana. The Jamaicans only hoped that in this final round they would represent their true amount of football talent, yet, by their own admission there is too much island and football politics preventing them from doing so.....Sorry to see all my friends there suffer from such a disappointment.....

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Confidential
Breaking down Sunday's FC Dallas-Timbers MLS playoff game    
Of the two regular-season champions that are down by two goals heading into the second legs ...
Breaking down Sunday's Red Bulls-Crew MLS playoff game    
Nine times this season the Red Bulls have won a regular-season game that will be good ...
Fire go outside the box to hire Paunovic    
One season with the Philadelphia Union is the full extend of Veljko Paunovic's MLS experience, yet ...
It's time to give pro/rel a rest    
In retirement, Landon Donovan, it seems, has too much time on his hands. If you follow ...
Breaking down Sunday's Timbers-FC Dallas MLS playoff game    
FC Dallas and Portland,MLS rivals for just five seasons, form one of the league's more intriguing ...
Breaking down Sunday's Crew-Red Bulls MLS playoff game    
Both legs of the Eastern Conference finals between Columbus and New York are sold out, which ...
Replacing Klinsmann is the lower-risk option: Time for a fresh start    
First of all, throw out of any equation to rate Jurgen Klinsmann's job performance the USA's ...
Andres Cantor on Hispanic support for the USA, MLS, women's game and his toughest assignment    
Andres Cantor has inked a multi-year contract extension with Telemundo, which sets him up to do ...
Round one points out higher price of semifinal results in Concacaf World Cup qualifying     
Honduras and Panama suffered costly defeats as the semifinal round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying got ...
Stuart Holden on the national team, soccer camps, retirement and, yes, Jonny Evans    
Stuart Holden is at the crossroads in his soccer career. He represented the USA at the ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives