CARSON, Calif. — When Donovan Ricketts takes the field for his next outing on Monday, it will be at The Home Depot Center.
That’s about the only routine part of this upcoming stretch for the LA Galaxy goalkeeper.
Ricketts will try and help lead Jamaica to Gold Cup glory when the tournament kicks off over the weekend, with their first test coming against Grenada in the first match of a Group B doubleheader.
Jamaica called on nine players from MLS, the most of any participating nation. However, despite featuring such talents as Ricketts, New York midfielder Dane Richards and Colorado forward Omar Cummings, the Reggae Boyz are not considered favorites to reach the June 25 final at the Rose Bowl.
Just don’t tell Ricketts that.
“[Jamaicans are] just special people,” Ricketts said. “We have a fighting spirit. Once we set our minds to something and we have the right focus, anything is possible.”
Along with Grenada, Jamaica will have to deal with Carlos Ruiz and Marco Pappa's Guatemalan side and a Honduras squad that reached the 2010 World Cup. Without the US or Mexico in the group, however, Jamaica’s task of reaching the knockout rounds is not an improbable one.
“Success for anyone would be winning the tournament and playing the best brand of football you can possibly play and seeing how far it takes you,” Ricketts said. “So hopefully we get to the final, if not semifinals.”
The Gold Cup will also help Jamaica prepare for World Cup qualifying. Reaching Brazil in 2014 is something Ricketts said his team hopes to accomplish, and putting the pieces in place now that will help during qualifying later will hopefully lead to Jamaica’s second-ever World Cup berth.
“This tournament is for putting players together, seeing where the team is at and seeing if we can find some form of chemistry,” said Ricketts, the backup ‘keeper during the 1998 World Cup in France.
“Next year are the World Cup qualifiers,” he added. “That’s our ultimate goal. We want to make this World Cup.”