MIAMI — A second-half brace from Demar Phillips gave Jamaica a convincing 2-0 victory over Guatemala in CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B action at FIU Stadium on Friday night, securing passage to the quarterfinals for the Caribbean nation.
Jamaica, who join Mexico as the lone qualifiers to the next round, now stand atop Group B with a maximum six points while Guatemala are stuck on a single point entering their final match of the group stage on Monday against Grenada. Honduras and Grenada played in the second match of Friday night’s doubleheader.
Phillips broke a scoreless deadlock in the 65th minute, converting a ball sent over the top of the Guatemalan back line from substitute Keammar Daley. His second came with 12 minutes remaining, finishing off a brilliant run by teammate and New York Red Bulls winger Dane Richards down the left side of the box.
The second goal came just eight minutes after Guatemala suffered their third ejection of this Gold Cup tournament as central defender Cristian Noriega received a second yellow card for taking down Richards, who snuck up and dispossessed him of the ball at the top of the Guatemalan box.
Caution reigned in a chippy, foul-riddled first half with both teams guilty of several rough tackles, clearly more preoccupied with clearing dangerous attacks and opting for long balls rather than seeking to develop any sort of possession game.
Recognizing the danger posed by the speed of the Jamaican wingers like Richards and Phillips, Guatemala often pulled back their flank midfielders to form a five-man defensive wall that never allowed the Jamaicans to get a full head of steam on their patented runs down the wings.
The one time Phillips had space to work with in the 25th minute, he weaved his way into the left side of the box and laid off the ball to Richards, whose right-footed shot from just outside the box finished wide. Two minutes later, Phillips used his left foot on a set piece from 20 yards out which was deflected and just missed the right post.
Chapines captain Carlos Ruiz gave the pro-Guatemalan crowd something to cheer about toward the end of the half. After testing Jamaica and LA Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from 25 yards out, "El Pescadito" fired another shot in the 43rd minute which curled just wide of the right post.
Guatemala brought on Marco Pappa to start the second half and the Chicago Fire midfielder fired two early shots off target, but the game was still tight and it was becoming increasingly evident that only an individual moment of brilliance would rupture the scoreless tie.
Three minutes into the second half, Jamaica’s Luton Shelton provided such a spark, going on a solo run down the heart of the Guatemala back line and only a desperate stop by Guatemalan ‘keeper Ricardo Jérez prevented the first goal of the match.
Jamaica manager Theodore Whitmore made an illuminated substitution when he brought on Daley in place of San Jose Earthquakes center forward Ryan Johnson in the 63rd minute. Just two minutes after coming on, Daley chipped a ball over the top of the Guatemalan back line which Phillips ran onto, shouldering off Guatemalan defender Jonathan López and sending a shot inside the far post.
The Caribbean nation could have put the game out of reach when Houston Dynamo central defender Jermaine Taylor got his leg onto a corner kick in the 72nd minute, but Jérez came through with a reaction save.
The Reggae Boyz doubled their lead six minutes later as Richards went on a mazy run down the left side of the Guatemalan box, dribbling by three defenders to the end line before cutting the ball back for the trailing Phillips, who knocked home the service. The 2-0 lead was enough for Jamaica to see out the rest of the match.
While Jamaica sent out the same starting 11 as in the first group match, a 4-0 win against Grenada, Guatemala were forced to make do without the suspended pair of Gustavo Cabrera and Henry Medina, both of whom received red cards in the first match against Honduras.
Jamaica had to make an early substitution at the start of the match when Toronto FC central defender Dicoy Williams left with a right leg injury. Guatemala also made an injury sub in the match, burning their last switch of the match inside the first 10 minutes of the second half after second-half replacement Carlos Figueroa injured his left arm, hitting the ground hard following an aerial challenge.
Friday’s result continued Jamaica’s dominance over Guatemala in the Gold Cup, making it four wins out of four in their all-time meetings in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Ruiz & Co. failed to score for the second straight match as the Guatemalan attack continues to struggle. That makes it just one win for Guatemala in their last 20 Gold Cup matches.
The Group B finales will be held at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., on Monday, June 13, with Guatemala taking on Grenada (7 p.m. ET) and Honduras battling Jamaica (9 p.m. ET).
JAM – Phillips (K. Daley) 65’
JAM – Phillips (Richards) 78’
GUA - C. Noriega (caution), 34'
JAM - Thomas (caution), 37’
JAM - Austin (caution), 68’
JAM - Taylor (caution), 69'
GUA - Noriega (caution / ejection), 70'
GUA - Contreras (caution), 88
Jamaica (3-4-3, left to right): #1 Donovan Ricketts -- #6 Jermaine Taylor, #4 Shavar Thomas (capt.), #3 Dicoy Williams (10’ #19 Adrian Reid) -- #12 Demar Phillips, #7 Jason Morrison, #17 Rodolph Austin (84’ #22 Damian Williams), #8 Eric Vernan -- #21 Luton Shelton, #9 Ryan Johnson (63’ #18 Keammar Daley), #11 Dane Richards
Subs Not Used: #13 Dwayne Miller, #2 Richard Edwards, #15 JeVaughn Watson, #16 Omar Daley.
Guatemala (3-4-2-1, left to right): #1 Ricardo Jerez -- #5 Carlos Gallardo, #3 Cristian Noriega, #7 Elias Vasquez -- #13 Edwin Gonzalez (46’ #16 Marco Pappa), #9 Wilfred Velasquez, #15 Manuel Leon (46’ #14 Carlos Figueroa / 54’ #4 Carlos Castrillo), #24 Jonathan Lopez -- #10 Jose Manuel Contreras, #20 Carlos Ruiz (capt.) -- #18 Oscar Isaula
Subs Not Used: #21 Juan Jose Paredes, #11 Henry Lopez, #17 Dwight Pezzarossi, #19 Jose Del Aguila,
Referee: Walter Quesada (Costa Rica)
Assistant Referees: Leonel Leal (Costa Rica), William Torres (El Salvador)
Fourth Official: Joel Aguilar (El Salvador)
Weather: Mostly cloudy, breezy, 80 degrees