Good morning from Kingston.
Jamaica is a happy place but not so much this morning after the Reggae Boyz dropped a 1-0 decision to Mexico at National Stadium, placing their World Cup qualifying ambitions in peril. They now have got just two full days to prepare for the United States, which has been on the ground since noon Tuesday and is acclimated to the stuffy weather after several days in muggy Washington and a training session at Arnett Gardens in Kingston.
The current standings:
Mexico 6 points from 4 matches
Panama 5 points from 3 matches
Costa Rica 4 points from 3 matches (+1 goal difference)
USA 4 points from 3 matches (0 GD)
Honduras 4 points from 3 matches (-1 GD)
Jamaica 2 points from 4 matches
*On the American front, forward Herculez Gomez is nursing a sore knee, an ailment that carried over from the Mexican league season. He did not play in the two friendlies. Gomez had no comment when asked yesterday about reports he is on the verge of moving from Santos Laguna to Tijuana, which already employs Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza and several young U.S. prospects. However, Santos confirmed the deal last night.
*The Americans arrived a day earlier than usual in order to acclimate and allow the coaching staff to attend the Mexico match. They learned a lesson earlier this year when they allowed just 48 hours to prepare for the Honduras away match. The oppressive weather in San Pedro took a toll. That difference then was most U.S. players were transitioning from European cold to Central American heat.
*This morning’s Jamaica Gleaner had a story about fans (including family members) protesting with signs at two sites about the exclusion of domestic league scoring ace Jermaine “Tuffy” Anderson from the Reggae Boyz roster. “If No Tuffy, No World Cup 2014,” read one sign.
“What is it that he must do to play for this country?” said one protester, who happened to be his mother.
In the Daily Observer, the back-page headline reads: “BOYZ FALL”
*It appears a major friendly is coming to FedEx Field in August. The Redskins say they won’t comment “until the deal is struck,” but the buzz in the local soccer community is that two of the clubs participating in the International Champions Cup are seeking another match in the States before returning to Europe. Two sources tell me Chelsea has inquired about training facilities at local colleges. Perhaps a Chelsea vs. Real Madrid match? Both Real and Chelsea have played D.C. United at FedEx in recent years. In August, FedEx will begin gearing up for the NFL preseason, but the Aug. 10 weekend is free.
*D.C. United, winless in 11 straight league matches and dead last in MLS’s overall standings, has brought two more trialists into camp, both from French club Sedan, which finished 19th out of 20 teams in the second division this season. They are 31-year-old Mali forward Mamadou Diallo (not the former MLS scoring ace of the same name) and 27-year-old Algerian defender Habib Bellaid. United did not offer a contract to Dutch defender William Ekong, 19, who began a trial last week.
United (1-10-2) is back in action Saturday night at New England.
*In case you missed it late yesterday, here is my Postcard from Jamaica.