By JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif – The Gold Cup came to the Home Depot Center Monday night as Jamaica trumped Grenada, 4-0, while Honduras settled for a scoreless draw against Guatemala despite being two men up.
Luton Shelton scored the opening goal for Jamaica in the 21st minute. Rodolph Austin took the shot from the right flank, Shelton weaseled his way into the six and toe poked it in off the half volley.
Jamaica struck again in the 39th minute when San Jose Earthquakes striker Ryan Johnson finished off a cross from New York Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards. Later in the second half, Johnson had a sure goal taken away.
The shot was blasted from the top off the penalty arc, went off the crossbar and bounced down clearly inside the goal line before trickling out. The match officials missed the call, ruling that it wasn't a goal.
Jamaica, however, found redemption soon after when Demar Phillips scored with 10 minutes left to play in the game. Minutes later, Omar Daley sliced one into net to give Jamaica the landslide victory.
The Honduras-Guatemala contest did not follow in their predecessors’ footsteps, but rather exhibited a back-and-forth chess match, as Los Catrachos couldn't take advantage of Guatemala being reduced to nine men.
Midfielder Oscar Garcia earned the best scoring chance for Honduras in the 33rd minute. Garcia blasted a shot from 25 yards out that rang off the crossbar and planted itself behind keeper Ricardo Jerez.
Guatemala had their set of chances but unfortunately fell short-handed in the final third of the game. Gustavo Cabrera received his second yellow of the game and was ejected.
In the last 10 minutes, Guatemala saw another player sent off after Henry Medina was issued a second yellow for a reckless tackle.
Despite being two men up, Honduras failed to capitalize on their found fortune. Though the Guatemala backline was strong, it was the Honduran lack of chemistry that was their ultimate folly.
“I think what most affected us was the fact that the recent additions from those players coming from Europe,” said Honduran coach Luis Fernando Suarez. “We had three weeks training session with the local players and those are the ones in best shape right now. We saw that and just trying to integrate those players from Europe was a challenge.”
As for Guatemala, it was the same old story. Los Chapines could not keep 11 players on the pitch, but they still found solace in the draw.
“It was really difficult for us, but in the end the result was good for us,” said Guatemala and Philadelphia Union striker Carlos Ruiz. “Guatemala in the past has played one game good and the next game bad. So we’re trying to play more games good. We’re trying to get more confident every game we play, we’ll see if we can do it in the next game.”
The Reggae Boyz will take on Guatemala, and Honduras will clash against Granada June 10 at FIU Stadium in Miami in the next round of Group B play.