Jamaica pulled off one of the biggest surprises in Gold Cup history, when it reached the 2015 final. Although the Reggae Boyz fell 3-1 to Mexico in the decider, they gave hope to all future underdogs, setting a standard for them to exceed.
Football results, however, are not determined by past scorelines. Production always matter. As a result, the Jamaicans will be viewing the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup as a way to forget a qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup that ended prematurely in the eyes of many observers.
Classic 2015 Gold Cup performances, including a 2-2 draw with 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalist Costa Rica and 2-1 semifinal win over the United States, soon gave way to less than typical losses at home.
World Cup Qualifying setbacks at the previously unassailable National Stadium to Nicaragua (2-3), Panama (0-2) and Haiti (0-2) shook confidence. Offensively, Jamaica netted one goal or fewer in six straight outings.
Those who underestimate the Caribbean power, though, due so at their own peril.
Defender Wes Morgan is a tower of inspiration for 2015/16 English Premier League champion Leicester City, while newcomers such as forward Cory Burke are ready to make an international mark. Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake was the 2016 MLS goalkeeper of the year.
Jamaica is the only Caribbean side to reach the Gold Cup final.