Jamaica needed a win against Panama to keep their hopes of playing in the 2018 World Cup, however it’s Los Canaleros who will be heading on to the CONCACAF hexagonal. Jamaica’s offense looked frantic and never really solved the Panamanian defense, while Panama was content to bide their time and wait for opportunities to come.
Jamaica manager Winfried Schäfer juggled the lineup a bit, opting to start Simon Dawkins (San Jose Earthquakes) over Jobi McAnuff (Stevenage FC), and Lee Williamson (Burton Albion) over Rodolph Austin (Brøndby). The Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake has been an automatic starter for the Reggae Boyz, and Schäfer’s faith was well founded. Blake made a couple of excellent saves to keep Jamaica in it, but in the 29th minute Gabriel Torres (Lauzanne Sport) was able to get on the end of a great through ball past the Jamaican defense and beat Blake.
Jamaica had a couple of chances, but nothing really threatening. The Reggae Boyz simply had no answer for Felipe Baloy (Rionegro Águilas) and Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders) - Panama’s two hulking center backs. Time after time, free kicks were sent into range of Baloy and Torres, who easily out-jumped and out-muscled Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City) and Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo). In stoppage time, Jamaica turned the ball over, Panama held the ball and waited for numbers to get back, and passed it off to Abdiel Arroyo (Deportes Tolima) whose shot beat Blake and was the final nail in the coffin.
Jamaica will play for pride on Tuesday against Haiti in Jamaica. It will be interesting to see if Winfried Schäfer sticks with the veterans or decides to get a look at some younger players like Bethlehem Steel FC’s Cory Burke.
Panama lineup: Jaime Penedo; Roderick Miller (Luis Ovalle - 46’), Felipe Baloy, Roman Torres, Adolfo Machado; Alberto Quintero, Armando Cooper, Gabriel Gomez, Edgar Barcenas (Abdiel Arroyo - 65’); Gabriel Torres (Amilcar Henriquez); Blas Perez
Jamaica Lineup: Andre Blake; Kemar Lawrence, Jermaine Taylor, Wes Morgan, Je-Vaughn Watson; Simon Dawkins (Jobi McAnuff - 62’), Michael Hector, Lee Williamson (Rodolph Austin - 46’), Garath McCleary (Dever Orgill - 73’); Clayton Donaldson, Giles Barnes