Scouting Report: Strong U.S. connection has propelled Jamaica's Reggae Girlz to new heights

Jamaica stands between the USA and a berth in the 2019 Women's World Cup when they meet for one of two Concacaf's spots that will be decided on Sunday in Frisco, Texas.

The Reggae Girlz will be heavy underdogs, having lost their only other two games to the USA, 10-0 and 6-0, but even if they lose on Sunday, they will get another shot at booking a ticket to France in the third-place game on Wednesday.

They have a strong U.S. connection. Every player on the Jamaica roster plays or played college soccer except two players, or they currently attend U.S. high schools. Most are born and raised in the United States, many of them in Florida, where head coach Hue Menzies  is the executive director of the Kraze Krush, an ECNL program.

The only starter in the 9-0 win over Cuba on Thursday who has not yet played college soccer in the United States is 16-year-old forward Jody Brown, who led with a hat trick. Brown moved from Ocho Rios High School to Montverde Academy in Florida after being spotted playing in a tournament in Orlando last year.

Goalscorers Khadija Shaw (an all-SEC pick for Tennessee as a junior in 2017) and Deneisha Blackwood (a senior at Division II power West Florida) are among six current U.S. collegians on the Reggae Girlz.

The other goalscorers were three former collegians: Sashana Campbell, who scored twice, and Marlo Sweatman and Christina Chang, who had one goal apiece. Campbell starred for West Florida when it won the 2012 NCAA Division II women's title and finished second in 2013, Sweatman played at Florida State and Oregon, while Chang attended Florida Atlantic.

Like many of her teammates, Chang was born in the USA to Jamaican parents and came through the U.S. youth system. She is the elder stateswoman on the team at the age of 33. After bouncing after teams in the WPSL, Chang has settled down and holds an unusual day job: air traffic controller at Miami International Airport.

Jamaica has made a lot of progress since Chang last faced the USA in 2008 when the Americans won, 6-0, in women's soccer qualifying for the Beijing Olympics.

The USA needed a late goal to beat Jamaica, 2-1, in U-20 World Cup qualifying last fall. The Jamaica goal was scored by Cornell defender Jadyn Matthews, who is related to Jamaican gold-medal sprinter Donald Quarrie, and now starts on the senior national team.

Other U-20s who have moved up to the Reggae Girlz are UNC Wilmington goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, who shut out Costa Rica, 1-0, Giselle Washington, who plays for Atlanta's Concorde Fire in the U-18/19 Girls Development Academy and Brown.

Jamaica's U.S. connection:
Sydney Schneider (UNC Wilmington)
Nicole McLure (ex-Univ. of South Florida)
Allyson Swaby (ex-Boston College)
Chantelle Swaby (Rutgers Univ.)
Christina Chang (ex-Florida Atlantic Univ.)
Dominique Bond-Flasza (ex-Univ. of Washington)
Jadyn Matthews (Cornell Univ.)
Konya Plummer (Univ. of Central Florida)
Sashana Campbell (ex-Univ. of West Florida)
Toriana Patterson (ex-UConn)
Ashleigh Shim (ex-FIU)
Chinyelu Asher (ex-Purdue Univ.)
Deneisha Blackwood (Univ. of West Florida)
Giselle Washington (Concord Fire, high school)
Khadija Shaw (Univ. of Tennessee)
Lauren Silver (ex-Univ. of Florida)
Marlo Sweatman (ex-Univ. of Oregon)
Trudi Carter (ex-Univ. of South Florida)
Jody Brown (Montverde Academy, high school)

1 comment about "Scouting Report: Strong U.S. connection has propelled Jamaica's Reggae Girlz to new heights".
  1. Randy Vogt, October 14, 2018 at 7:24 a.m.

    Strange that both the Jamaica field players and the Cuba goalkeeper are both wearing yellow jerseys in the above video, something that should have been easily corrected before the match began.

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