Jamaica survive Haiti’s attacking forays, book semifinal date vs. USA
Jamaica got an early goal from Giles Barnes, then spent the rest of Saturday evening dealing with Haiti’s attacking forays to book their place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals after a 1-0 victory in Baltimore.
The Reggae Boyz will take on the United States on Wednesday night in Atlanta (live, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports Go, 6 p.m. ET) when they make their first Gold Cup semifinal appearance after recording a third consecutive clean sheet in a quarterfinal test that was never easy for them to negotiate.
"They’ve been solid at the back, and they’re moving the ball well, exactly what you’d expect from a Jurgen Klinsmann," Barnes said of the U.S. "So they’ll be a tough test on Wednesday, but we’re confident that we’re more than capable of coming away with a result."
Haiti had plenty of possession and lots of openings but their lack of accuracy plagued them. Too often shots went high and wide as Jamaica became increasingly content to concede shots from outside while keeping things very tight in the middle. Ryan Thompson, a backup who replaced injured Dwayne Miller in the final group match and got the start Saturday, did not have to be anything more than supremely competent in the Jamaican goal.
Though Barnes scored the only goal of the opening half it was Haiti which carried much of the play and will wonder why they were unable to take advantage of their chances.
The ninth-minute Barnes goal resulted from some slack Haitian defending and a smart, powerful finish. Barnes ran onto a good drop pass from Adrian Mariappa and beat Johnny Placide with a near post drive from the right. There was far too much room for Mariappa to receive the long ball down the right flank, then Frantz Bertin should have done better closing down Barnes as the striker received the ball down low.
"I kind of looked up and didn’t really see anyone in box, and I thought just hit it hard and low," Barnes said. "The coach had been telling me to shoot more."
The rest of the chances belonged almost entirely to the Haitians with Jamaica having to defend stoutly and unable to do much more than create an occasional foray at the other end. Rodolph Austin’s sliding tackle prevented Haiti from an equalizing chance just three minutes after Barnes scored and the space available to Haiti to put crosses into the Reggae Boyz box was already enough to alarm the Jamaican supporters.
James Marcelin could do no more than shoot directly at Thompson in the 14th minute, then Thompson reacted quickly to deny Donald Guerrier from close in on the right. Duckens Nazon slipped through the defense in the 24th minute only to see his shot hit the left post. Thompson touched over a long-range Jean Alexandre attempt 10 minutes later.
When Jean Maurice chipped the ball across the face of goal and past the far right post in the 43rd minute, the Jamaicans had escaped all of the pressure with their lead intact. It turned out that the Haitians never again would have so many good looks.
Jamaica tightened things after the interval, although it was still Haiti doing most of the attacking. The difference was that Haiti found it much harder to slide passes through the midfield to test the backline and had to settle for long-range, speculative shots. At the same time, as the Haitians continued to push players forward, Jamaica was able to find the space to counter more often. The introduction of Lance Laing provided Jamaica with better midfield balance, as well.
Haiti continued to force some corners, but like their shot selection, the set-piece opportunities were wasted with deliveries not precise enough to put the Jamaican central defenders under severe pressure.
Jamaica nearly finished the match as a contest in the 83rd minute, but Placide held his spot at the near post and managed to keep Barnes out from a chance very similar to the one which had produced the goal. That was the last good chance in the match as Jamaica played out the final minutes smartly.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.