Gold Cup Team Preview: Jamaica / by Harrison Crow

By Harrison Crow (@harrison_crow)

Group Stage Schedule
DateTime (ET)CityVenueHomeAway
08-Jul 8:00PM Carson Stub Hub Center CRC JAM
11-Jul 6:30PM Houston BBVA Compass Stadium JAM CAN
14-Jul 6:00PM Toronto BMO Field JAM SLV

This is a young and dynamic team that has all the various attributes that are so often associated with Jamaica. They've got speed and are a very attacking club, but they come with a bit more technique this time around. Unfortunately, after just participating in the Copa America, this call-up is a bit weaker than what we'd normally expect for a Gold Cup.
Speaking of the Copa America, they only managed 8 shots inside the box against Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, and surrendered 16 across their three group games. Which seems… not good. Until you consider that Uruguay is ranked 12th , Paraguay is ranked 37th and Argentina is still number deuce in the world according to ELOrating.net. Things look suddenly a little bit more rosy.

How did they get here?
Jamaica qualified through the Caribbean zone by winning the 2014 Caribbean Cup, defeating Trinidad & Tobago on penalty kicks and earning an automatic birth.

Group B
CountryAvg AgeAvg CapsELOrankFIFArank
Costa Rica 26.7 32 16 14
Canada 26.3 23.5 78 109
Jamaica 26.6 21.6 80 65
El Salvador 24.9 17.7 88 89

What Group are they in?
They are in Group B, along with Costa Rica, El Salvador and Canada. The winner will play the Group A runner-up, the runner-up will play the Group C runner-up, and third place could be weighted against other third place teams for the chance to play either the Group A winner or Group C winner.

How are they are ranked?
ELO: 80, rating 1504 FIFA: 65

People are going to be shocked by this statement but in this case and context it's better to consider the FIFA rating as a more accurate estimate of the strength of this Jamaica team. While they aren't necessarily any better of a team than Finland, Morocco or even South Africa the difference in ELO ratings is only about 50 points. Consider that the difference between 20th place and 11th place is over 100 points it puts things into perspective.

Jamaica isn't necessarily an awful team, they're an average team bunched with a lot of other average teams in the world rankings. But don't sleep on them, they have a lot of talent and showed some potential in the aforementioned Copa America. An average team in CONCACAF is a lot more dangerous than in other parts of the world.

Who is their Head Coach?
Da German, Winfried Schäfer was hired to take over the The Reggae Boyz in 2013, Schäfer spent the majority of his playing time in the Top Flight (western) Germany playing roughly half his career with Borussia Mönchengladbach. He started his coaching career by taking over Mönchengladbach's reserve team as the head coach in 1982. He then transitioned to the first team as the scout in '83 and then shuffled on to Karlsruher SC in '86 where he lasted for a decade until they were demoted to 2. Bundesliga in 1998 and was removed. From there he took some time off and then bounced around from club to country every couple of years until being hired by Jamaica following the resignation of Theodore Whitmore during the CONCACAF Hexagonal.

PlayerPositionTeamCountryAgeCaps
Andre Blake GK Philadelphia Union USA 24 9
Dwayne Miller GK Syrianska Sweeden 27 35
Ryan Thompson GK Pittsburgh Riverhounds USA 30 3
Michael Hector D Reading England 22 3
Lance Laing D FC Edmonton Canada 27 7
Kemar Lawrence D New York Red Bulls USA 22 19
Adrian Mariappa D Crystal Palace England 28 24
Wes Morgan D Leicester City England 31 15
Demar Phillips D Real Salt Lake USA 31 66
Alvas Powell D Portland Timbers USA 20 18
Jermaine Taylor D Houston Dynamo USA 30 81
Rodolph Austin M Leeds United England 30 76
Simon Dawkins M Derby County England 27 11
Joel Grant M Yeovil Town England 27 10
Christopher Humphrey M Preston North End England 27 7
Joel McAnuff M Leyton Orient England 33 16
Garath McCleary M Reading England 28 12
Je-Vaughn Watson M FC Dallas USA 31 43
Giles Barnes F Houston Dynamo USA 26 5
Andre Clennon F Arnett Gardens Jamaica 25 1
Darren Mattocks F Vancouver Whitecaps Canada 24 24
Allan Ottey F Montego Bay United Jamaica 22 0
Michael Seaton F Örebro Sweeden 19 12

Who are the important players that I should know?
Dwayne Miller (GK)– I'll be honest, I'm not sure what to make of Miller. He's been around the National team since 2007 making his debut at 19 and since then has made 33 more appearances. Last season, his club, Syrianska, gained promotion to Allsvenskan, the Sweedish first division, and he was a large part of that by contributing to 13 clean sheets .

Right now, Jamaica is looking like to replace the aging Donovan Ricketts with Duwayne Kerr (who made two of the three starts in Copa America). Considering neither of those players were called in this group, it appears that this is Miller's audition for the job. But don't be surprised should he falter if the job is quickly given back to Kerr or even handed down to MLS 2014 first overall Superdraft pick Andre Blake during the tournament.

Alvas Powell (DEF)- Powell, in my opinion, is the best right back in MLS right now at only 20 years old. Unlike his Cascadia/CONCACAF rival in DeAndre Yedlin, his defensive skills are a bit more refined though his attacking prowess isn't as keen and he's not quite as aggressive, leaving him less exposed and often in better position to defend rather than trying to recover. He right now leads all of MLS in total duels and is third in duels per 90, backing-up the idea that he doesn't get beat one-on-one frequently.

Simon Dawkins (MID)- If you follow MLS you might remember his pretty successful loan stint at San Jose across 2011 and 2012. After SJ could not secure him on a transfer he ventured to Aston Villa on a less successful loan opportunity. He moved to Derby County in 2013 which lead to a permanent transfer. Dawkins averaged almost two  shots a match and ibe key pass per 90 minutes played this past season as a dangerous wide option in the England's second division.

Michael Seaton (FWD)- I'm not really sure if we're going to see Seaton at all during the Gold Cup, but the 19-year old is someone you want on your radar. He became the first MLS player in the league born after the league began play when he signed with DC United in 2013 and since he's spent time in the USL and at Örebro SK (first division, Sweden). He's managed to score two international goals in 12 appearances against Saint Lucia and Serbia.

The team's average age is 26.6, seventh highest in the tournament. The average number of caps is 21.6, 10th highest in the tournament. This is a very young group of players and they've been slowly building their core since just missing out on the 2014 World Cup. Still, it's made all the more thin with this being on the heels of the Copa America in June.

What have they done in the past?
2013: Did not qualify
2011: Lost to the United States in quarter-finals 0-2
2009: Did not make it out of group play (3 pts, Beat El Salvador)
2007: Did not qualify

What do we expect from them this go around?
They've got a very good chance of at least seeing the knockout stage, and I wouldn't be surprised if they managed to squeak into the semi-finals. If they pull the upset and visit Atlanta (which I'm being told is reward... okay, sure) things obviously would have to go pretty right. Canada and El Salvador would have to draw and then Jamaica would need to beat either Canada and/or El Salvador. If they're not able to do that they'll be stuck having to beat group favorites Costa Rica. After that, the whole randomness of quarter-final opponents could be good for them... or bad. It's a tournament, things get much more random and chaotic in the group stages.

I expect four points should be good enough for a quarter-final visit with five being an outside shot at winning the group and maybe, probably, pulling a lesser opponent. However, I really think Costa Rica had this group on lock down. Still, looking back at the miraculous run that Panama had in 2013, it's possible that Jamaica is that same dark horse candidate for the 2015 Gold Cup.