Group C: Jamaica 0 Costa Rica 1; Suriname 1 Guadeloupe 0
July 21 – Jamaica and Costa Rica were only at the start of their battle for the top spot in Group C in Orlando when the players were called from the pitch in the fourth minute. A bad weather warning had forced the players from the pitch and the crowd for the stands as the rain poured down.
Jamaican coach Theodore Whitmore had made eight changes from the team that had made hard work of beating Guadeloupe 2-1 in their last match. The changes included resting talisman Leon Bailey and inspirational goalkeeper Andre Blake.
By contrast Costa Rican coach Luis Guzman had brought back his perennial best player Bryan Ruiz into his starting line-up, but rested Celso Borges, the hero of the win over Suriname.
It was a contest between two teams looking to find form that was going to have to wait until after the rain.
Suriname and Guadeloupe fill the gap
Meanwhile attention switched to the dead rubber of the other group match kicking off at the same time in Houston. An unexpected diversion that proved enjoyable. Suriname’s precocious young goal scoring talent Gelofilo Vjilter– the top scorer in Concacaf’s Nations League – double underlined his talent with a superb goal from an acute angle to put his country a goal up.
Guadeloupe have their own talent up front with Mathias Phaeton equalising 6 minutes later. But then disaster struck for Guadeloupe with Kelly Irep being sent off for a foul on Ivenzo Comvalius on the half hour. It was the second red card of the tournament for Guadeloupe.
It took until the 79thminute for Suriname to break the Guadeloupe resistance with substitute Nigel Hasselbaink (a nephew of the England Premier League legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink), giving the Dutch colony a deserved lead that they held to the end.
Meanwhile in Orlando it rained and rained.
When the Costa Rica and Jamaica game eventually restarted possession was evenly balanced, but it was Jamaica who looked to have weathered the storm better with a shot count of 8-1 in the first half.
The second half followed the pattern of this first. On 51 minutes Andre Gray hammered his shot against the post.
But Costa Rica with Bryan Ruiz can never be written off and on 58 minutes a Ruiz header from an Ariel Lassiter cross put the Reggae Boyz a goal behind.
On 72 minutes they were a man-up after a deliberate handball saw Leonel Moreira sent off.
It didn’t matter. While Jamaica undoubtedly had the quality to pull this game back it was sitting on the bench.
Costa Rica had done enough to see the game out and set up a quarter final with Canada on Sunday in Arlington. Jamaica will face the USA who knocked them out in the semi-finals in 2019.
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