Livingston Scott, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz failed to make their third, consecutive CONCACAF Gold Cup final after they were beaten 3-1 by host nation, United States, in their semi-final at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday night.
Weston McKennie first netted in the ninth minute before Christian Pulisic scored in the 52nd and 87th minute to put Gregg Berhalter’s side into Sunday’s final against arch-rivals Mexico.
Shamar Nicholson scored for the Boyz in the 69th minute.
The US started briskly and put the Reggae Boyz under pressure from the first minute. Christian Pulisic penetrated the defence but the ball was cleared after a melee in the box.
In the fourth minute, goalkeeper Andre Blake denied Paul Arriola a certain goal from six yards out, then Reggie Cannon shot into the side-netting after a poor defensive clearance.
The US eventually went ahead when McKennie ran through on a cross and placed wide of Blake. They also came close to a second, minutes later, but Pulisic’s free kick rattled the post.
Jamaica nearly gave up a goal in the 15th minute when Blake collided with Alvas Powell and spilled the ball but the ‘keeper’ reacted quickly to deny Jozy Altidore.
The game was then held up for roughly 90 minutes because of a severe weather warning. This gave the Reggae Boyz time to regroup and find their footing.
Jamaica came into themselves after the restart and created their first chance when Leon Bailey got behind the US defence, but he scoffed his shot. A little later Mattocks fired wide from top of the box, and in the 22nd minute and Junior Flemmings tested Zack Steffen in the US goal with a drive from 30 yards.
Leon Bailey, who looked a lot brighter in this match than his last two outings, had a low shot deflected for a corner, and from the resulting set play, Michael Hector blasted wide.
The US threatened again when McKennie beat Blake to a pass, but he could not find Arriola after the defence got back.
But Jamaica ended the half on a high as Bailey, Vassell and Mattocks put the host nation on the back foot going into the break.
Jamaica started the second as they ended it, on the front foot, but they were dealt a hard blow when Blake failed to handle Jordan Morris’ shot and Pulisic swept home the loose ball from close range. Gyasi Zardes then put a chance wide from 12 yards out for the US. Mattocks came close in the 65th but could not keep his shot on target.
Four minutes later, the Boyz cut the deficit when Bailey set up substitute Shamar Nicholson, who scored the winner against the US last month, to head home.
Jamaica, led by Bailey, then put the US under a wave of pressure, but couldn’t make use of the opening they created.
The USA then got the insurance goal three minutes from time when Blake parried a shot in to the path of Pulisic, who netted his second and the US’ third.