[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN] Jamaica's Reggae Boyz, whose Hexagonal campaign began so brightly when they tied Mexico, 0-0, at Azteca Stadium in February, began arriving in suburban Overland Park Monday to set up camp for Friday's qualifier against the United States at Kansas City's Sporting Park.
They have a new coach, German Winfried Schaefer, since they faced the USA in June and many new faces, including the Colorado Rapids' Rookie of the Year candidate, Deshorn Brown, who earned his first call-up of the Hexagonal, and nurse only slim hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
The Reggae Boyz collapsed in June when they lost three games in a week, including a 1-0 loss to Mexico -- El Tri's only win in eight games -- and a 2-1 loss to the USA, also in Kingston, on Brad Evans' stoppage-time goal.
With two points in six games, Jamaica replaced Coach Theodore Whitmore with the German Schaefer, whose coaching career has taken him to Cameroon, United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan and Thailand but never to Concacaf.
Jamaica has managed two decent results in Schaefer's first two games: a 0-0 tie at Panama with 10 men and a 1-1 tie at home against Costa Rica thanks to Jermaine Anderson's late equalizer. The points were just enough to keep the Reggae Boyz alive but not enough to give them a realistic shot of claiming fourth place and a playoff berth against New Zealand in November.
Jamaica sits in last place with two games to play, four points behind Panama and Mexico, and needs to sweep its final two games against the USA and Honduras and get lots of help -- beginning with a Mexico-Panama tie Friday night -- to overtake Panama and Mexico.
"It's very important for us to beat the USA," Captain Horace Burrell, president of the Jamaica Football Federation, told the Gleaner. "We are trying our best to get the necessary results in the next two games. The team have a slim chance of getting the playoff spot, so we are not concentrating on anything else but to win. We will go to the U.S. and carve out a victory and will be hoping that other results go our way."
Brown, who scored two goals for the Rapids in their 5-1 win over Seattle, is one of six MLS players called into the team. Not with Jamaica, however, is goalie Donovan Ricketts, who was sensational in earning the Portland Timbers a 2-2 tie at Vancouver on Sunday night.
Jermaine Hue, who also started for Jamaica in the 2-1 loss to the USA in June, has been suspended by FIFA for nine months after he tested positive for a banned substance.
GOALKEEPERS (3):DuWayne Kerr (Sarpsborg/NOR), Richard McCallum (Waterhouse), Gariece McPherson (Cavalier).
DEFENDERS (9): Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace/ENG), Demar Phillips (Aalesund/NOR), Daniel Gordon (Karlsruhe/GER), Lloyd Doyley (Watford/ENG), Shaun Cummings (Reading/ENG), Kemar Lawrence (Harbour View), Westley Morgan (Leicester City/ENG), Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Jermaine Johnson (Sheffield Wed./ENG), Rudolph Austin (Leeds United/ENG) Marvin Elliot (Bristol City/ENG), Jobi McAnuff (Reading/ENG), Je-Vaughn Watson (FC Dallas), Romario Campbell (Waterhouse)
FORWARDS (5): Theo Robinson (Derby County/ENG), Ryan Johnson (Portland Timbers), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps), Deshorn Brown (Colorado Rapids), Jermaine Anderson (Waterhouse).
PTS TEAM W-T-L +/1
16 USA 5-1-2 10/6
15 Costa Rica 4-3-1 12/6
11 Honduras 3-2-3 10/10
8 Mexico 1-5-2 4/6
8 Panama 1-5-2 7/9
4 Jamaica 0-4-4 3/9