Jamaica turns back Canada to reach second straight Gold Cup semifinal

The Reggae Boyz are headed to their second consecutive Gold Cup semifinal. (Getty)

When Jamaica made the Gold Cup final back in 2015, it did so with a veteran team full of England-based players.

These 2017 Reggae Boyz are much younger, based primarily in North America – and will have a chance to reach a final of their own.

Jamaica scored goals early in each half and received a boost from Andre Blake’s goalkeeping to beat Canada 2-1 on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz., and reach the Gold Cup semifinals.

Jamaica’s ability to turn the ball over and unleash blistering counters put Canada under constant threat, although the Canadians started much better. In fact, the first goal, a well-worked sequence featuring a cut-back ball by Darren Mattocks and a rooftop finish by Shaun Francis, came decidedly against the run of play:

Romario Williams put Jamaica up 2-0 early in the second half by punishing the space Canada gave him with a right-footed rip into the far corner of the net:

Canadian winger Junior Hoilett, who’s spent several seasons in the Premier League with three different clubs, cut the lead in half with one of the goals of the tournament:

Hoilett lined up alongside Orlando City striker Cyle Larin and 16-year-old breakout star Alphonso Davies up top, which figured to give Jamaica’s defense fits. Instead, the three never really worked well together, with Larin being subbed off in the 56th minute.

They can lay a good portion of the blame at the feet of Blake. The Jamaican captain made several huge stops, including on point-blank attempts and clever first-time takes by the Canadians.

Jamaica will now play at the Rose Bowl on Sunday against either Mexico or Honduras, two teams in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying that will likely be favored in the semifinals.

That’s OK. Jamaica was an underdog to the United States in the semis two years ago, and look how that turned out.

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