Andre Blake and the Reggae Boyz are back in the semifinals of the Concacaf Gold Cup for the third straight time after the 28-year-old Philadelphia Union goalkeeper recorded his 14th career international clean sheet.
“It wasn’t pretty, but that’s football,” Blake said after the match. “I’ll take an ugly win more than a pretty loss all day. The boys did a great job tonight, again it wasn’t our best game but we stuck to the task and defended our asses off and we’re moving on, that’s what’s important.”
Blake found himself in unfamiliar territory in the first half when he ended up coming way off his line to defend and made a tackle outside the box near the sideline.
“It was a turnover play and I figured we were outnumbered so I was just ready to make a play to do whatever I can,” he said. “I was able to close him down, make the first save and at that point I knew my defenders would be giving cover so it would not make much sense to back off so I just kind of stayed with him and tried to close out the play.”
Blake made a pair of saves on the day but Jamaica conceded a lot of the possession to Panama, which finished with 61 percent possession for the game.
“It was an emotional night for me, I felt the love from the fans,” Blake said of playing at Lincoln Financial Field. “I’m just happy we were able to come up with the win.”
The lone goal came from FC Cincinnati forward Darren Mattocks, who converted from the spot two minutes after checking in and heading his first touch of the ball off the hand of New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murrillo in the box.
Next up, the Reggae Boyz head to Nashville to face the U.S. on Wednesday. A win would mean a trip to the final on Sunday in Chicago and two more missed games in MLS for Blake. Jamaica knocked the U.S. out in 2015 to make it to the first of two straight finals, which they lost to Mexico in 2015 and the U.S. in 2019.