USA vs. Jamaica -- Reggae Boyz bring a new look

Jamaica is the surprise team of CONCACAF qualifying, having knocked off the likes of Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada and El Salvador at home. Can the Reggae Boyz keep their nerve against the United States at RFK Stadium on Oct. 3? A large portion of the crowd will be behind them. More than a week prior to the match, it was reported that more than 12,000 tickets had been sold in New York, presumably to the huge Jamaican population in the Big Apple. On the road in the final phase, Jamaica has been woeful: a 6-0 loss in Mexico City, a 3-1 loss in San Jose, Costa Rica. The Boyz did garner a point against Canada in Burnaby, B.C., in late April, and surely their confidence has been buoyed by 1-0 home wins over Canada and Costa Rica. Most Jamaican players compete in their domestic league, but the influx of four English League veterans has brought additional experience into the team. Gone from the last U.S. game are strikers Walter Boyd (suspended), Andrew Williams (injured), Paul Young (out of favor) and probably Onandi Lowe (hoping to be reinstated after also falling out with Jamaican officials). Goalkeepers -- A decade of internationals Warren Barrett Since debuting for the national team in 1987, Barrett has usually been the first-choice keeper, as his incredible total of more than 100 caps -- at age 27! -- will attest. Nicknamed "Boopy," he had little to do in Jamaica's recent wins. Aaron Lawrence Born in the same year as Barrett, he debuted in 1990 but usually gives way to his more experienced teammate. He did blank Canada in April, and made a great save of an Alex Bunbury shot to preserve the tie. Defenders -- Brown provides cover Durrent Brown A member of the national team since 1988, Brown is second only to Barrett in caps. The 33-year-old sweeps behind a pair of marking backs, and is one of the few players on the team who seldom comes forward. Ian Goodison The team's best man-marker. His goal brought Jamaica its vital 1-0 victory over Mexico last November in the final game of the third round. Goodison usually marks the opponent's most dangerous forward. Linval Dixon A man-marker who also likes to attack, Dixon prefers to come up the right flank when Jamaica pushes forward with numbers. Very good with the ball at his feet, he will dribble if given the space. Ricardo Gardener A teenage sensation (he turned 19 last month) who has taken over the left-back slot . He played the first 70 minutes against Canada and went the full 90 against Costa Rica. Dean Sewell Former U.S. college star (Division II New Hampshire College) has seen a lot of time on the right flank, but recently has also played on the left. Gregory Messam Former Colorado Foxes star is a very fast player and accomplished dribbler who did a fine job of shutting down Cobi Jones last March, although more recently he has been used as a substitute. Midfielders -- Brimming with skill and pace Peter Cargill He serves as the midfield destroyer and also drops into the back line if the marking backs push forward. First named to the national team 13 years ago, the Harbour View player-coach has been recalled for the steadying influence he has on some of his more rambunctious teammates. Fitzroy Simpson Simpson is one of the two players from English club Portsmouth join up with the Reggae Boyz this year. Jamaica head coach Rene Simoes has been using him on the flank. Steve Malcolm Always buzzing around the ball, Malcolm does a lot of the running and hard work in midfield. Although not the most talented Jamaican with the ball at his feet, he has scored twice for his country. Theodore Whitmore Whitmore is a threat every time he gets the ball. It was his shot against the U.S. in March that Mike Burns saved off the goal line. He is strong as well as shifty. He has 11 international goals to his credit. Christopher Dawes Normally the backup defensive midfielder to Cargill, Dawes stepped in at sweeper for the suspended Brown against Costa Rica and was named Man of the Match. Strikers -- New blood sparks attack Deon Burton Has endeared himself to Jamaica's fans by scoring the goals that downed Costa Rica and Canada, although the former came on a deflection and the latter resulted from the slow reaction of Canadian defenders who allowed him to wind up and blast a shot from 12 yards. Burton recently left Portsmouth, which signed him as a trainee, to join Derby County. Paul Hall Although Burton has been the one scoring goals for Jamaica, Hall is more in the Jamaican mold: A skillful player with pace. He has scored more than 20 goals for Portsmouth in the past three seasons. Unlike Simpson, he has managed to keep his place in the Pompey lineup despite traveling back and forth for qualifiers. Robbie Earle The fourth Beatle drafted into the team, Earle has been a mainstay for Wimbledon, but at age 32, may not get the playing time to make a significant contribution. He came on as a sub for Burton against both Canada and Costa Rica. By Soccer America Senior Editor Ridge Mahoney
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