Hallgrimsson rues lapse in concentration as Canada edge Boyz 2-1 in opening quarter-final leg

By November 18, 2023
Jamaica's Dexter Lembikisa closes in for a challenge on Alphonso Davies of Canada during their first-leg CNL quarter-final fixture at the National Stadium on Saturday. Jamaica's Dexter Lembikisa closes in for a challenge on Alphonso Davies of Canada during their first-leg CNL quarter-final fixture at the National Stadium on Saturday. Jhon-Marc Prince

Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz Head Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson rued his team’s missed opportunities along with a lapse in concentration that proved their undoing, as they will have to overturn a one-goal deficit if they intend to progress to the Concacaf Nations League semi-final, as well as next year's Copa America, after they went down 1-2 to Canada in their opening quarter-final leg at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Jonathan David sent Canada in front in the 45+1, before Shamar Nicholson added to his rich Nations League scoring form, with a 56th-minute strike. However, poor defending by the Jamaicans allowed Stephen Eustaquio (86th) to notch the decisive goal and put Canada in the driver's seat heading into Tuesday's second leg at the BMO Field in Toronto.

"It was really hot, so the tempo understandably wasn't high. In a game like this it's about keeping focus, they lost focus, and we didn't punish them, and we lost focus, and they punished us. At this level when you don't take your chances you get hurt and that was the end result," Hallgrimsson said in a post-game interview.

Jamaica started the contest, which was pushed back from Friday due to inclement weather, spiritedly in bright sunny conditions, as they showed some degree of enterprise in the early exchanges and should have opened the scoring in 15th minute. This, as Leon Bailey breached Canada's defence, but dragged his left-footed effort wide of the target in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canada also had an early opportunity of their own through David, whose effort was kept out by Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake in goal.

The Canadians continued their probe and almost broke the deadlock in the 32nd, as Cyle Larin was allowed time and space to release a right-footer from outside the 18-yard box, but Blake again proved equal to the task.

Canada used the channels well for the service and had a few more half chances but were still unable to break Jamaica's resistance. 

Bailey should have put the Jamaicans in front in the 40th when he arrived at the far post to meet Bobby Reid's weighted corner, but the effort slammed into the left upright. 

The Jamaicans later paid for that missed opportunity, as Larin turned his marker and played a pass inside for David to tap in.

Canada should have added another in stoppage time, when David produced a tidy run down left channel and found Larin, who had enough time and space to pick a spot from dead centre of the 18-yard box but steered right-footer wide.

The North Americans picked up where they left off on the resumption and almost doubled the lead four minutes in, but David's well-struck effort from almost 20-yards out was parried by Blake.

Jamaica came into their own and pulled level when a quickly taken freekick from Reid sent Nicholson in behind Canada's defence and the towering striker made no mistakes with a firmly struck effort. Though initially flagged offside, the goal stood via the VAR review.

From there, the contest remained evenly poised and could have gone either way in the latter stages, but it was Canada, who inevitably found the winner.

Richie Laryea’s dashing run down the right channel dragged Jamaica’s defence and opened up space for Eustaquio to sweep home the perfect cut-back pass from deep inside the 18-yard box.

 

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Related items

  • Minnesota United v San Jose Earthquakes: Under-pressure Ramsay chooses to see hope Minnesota United v San Jose Earthquakes: Under-pressure Ramsay chooses to see hope

    Minnesota United head coach Eric Ramsay says the club are "onto a good thing" despite their nine-match winless streak as they prepare to face the San Jose Earthquakes.

    Minnesota ended a six-match losing run against Houston Dynamo last weekend with a 1-1 draw but could not build on that in midweek as they let a lead slip in stoppage time against D.C. United to lose 3-2.

    Sitting ninth in the Western Conference with teams below them are starting to close in, but Ramsay, who is starting to come under pressure due to this run of results, remains optimistic.

    "I always see hope," Ramsay said. "We've got a group that is very willing to throw themselves into a challenge and a coaching staff that are largely very positive and constructive.

    "We're doing everything we can to make sure that we roll from one game into another. We look at ourselves hard in the mirror, but we're also realistic, and I am absolutely adamant that we're onto a good thing here.

    "The big thing is we remain calm and level, with lessons learned, and everything still intact."

    Meanwhile, San Jose sit rooted to the bottom of the table having collected just 14 points this season.

    Despite winning just one of their last 12 matches, interim head coach Ian Russell says he sees improvement in the team, especially defensively.

    "We've had three games in a week, and you want to focus on each game, but that's really hard," Russell said.

    "Defensively, we're better, but we've got to get the attack going. It's a fine line. It's a matter of every player buying in defensively, staying compact, small details.

    "If you do that as a collective, you start seeing results and, defensively, we've been pretty good."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Minnesota United – Tanitoluwa Oluwaseyi

    Minnesota's 3-2 defeat to D.C. on Wednesday marked the second time in club history that the Loons lost an MLS match when leading entering the 90th minute, also doing so at home against Seattle in August 2018.

    Oluwaseyi scored the opener in that game, netting for the eighth time this season, and he will be key as they look to bounce back.

    San Jose Earthquakes – Jacob Jackson

    San Jose have lost four straight, and nine of their 11 road games this regular season (winning one, drawing one). The Earthquakes have allowed at least four goals in five of those 11 games.

    Jacob Jackson has endured a torrid run in goal, and he will be keen to enjoy a shutout before the Leagues Cup break.

    MATCH PREDICTION: MINNESOTA UNITED WIN

    San Jose won each of their first four meetings with Minnesota, spanning the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Since 2019, the Earthquakes have managed just one win in 10 meetings with the Loons in all competitions (drawing four, losing five).

    Minnesota are winless in a club-record nine straight regular-season matches (drawing two, losing seven) following a 3-2 loss to D.C. on Wednesday. The Loons have lost three straight home matches for the first time in the club's MLS history.

    Meanwhile, San Jose's 14 points through 24 games this season equals the fourth-fewest at this stage of a season in MLS history, behind only the MetroStars in 1999 (nine), D.C. United in 2013 (13) and Chivas USA in 2005 (13).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Minnesota United – 56.1%

    Draw – 22.7%

    San Jose Earthquakes – 21.2%

  • Sporting Kansas City v St. Louis City: Visitors want to show fight during 'test of character' Sporting Kansas City v St. Louis City: Visitors want to show fight during 'test of character'

    St. Louis City interim head coach John Hackworth says their recent struggles have been a "test of character" as they look to bounce back against Sporting Kansas City.

    St. Louis have lost their last three games by an aggregate score of 10-2, leaving them 13th in the Western Conference, eight points off a playoffs place.

    With only one win in their last 13 MLS matches, Hackworth is keen to snap their current losing streak and says he saw positives in their 2-0 defeat to Seattle Sounders in midweek.

    "The players made a huge step [against Seattle], played much better than we did previously," Hackworth said.

    "[We] gave ourselves a chance to be in that game, had some unfortunate things again happen to us, but it wasn't for lack of trying to play with a lot of heart and soul, being collective, having each other's backs, so those are positives we can build on for sure.

    "We have had all season to deal with a lot of hardships, it's a test of our character."

    Meanwhile, Kansas City sit one place and one point ahead of their opponents but lost their most recent match 2-1 against Vancouver Whitecaps after back-to-back wins.

    Head coach Peter Vermes expressed his disappointment with the defeat in Vancouver and is eyeing a quick improvement on Saturday.

    "We're slow with the ball in situations that catch us out with fast transitions, and we need to be better there," Vermes said.

    "We need as much energy and as many players as we possibly can for this weekend, so hopefully, we'll be there."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Sporting Kansas City – William Agada

    William Agada scored on Wednesday, bringing his total up to four goals in his last four matches in all competitions.

    Prior to his recent form, Agada had notched just two goals in his previous 17 matches.

    St. Louis City – Nokkvi Thorisson

    Nokkvi Thorisson attempted two shots in the loss to the Sounders on Wednesday, tying him with Eduard Lowen for the most by any St. Louis player in the match.

    It was the fifth consecutive match in which Thorisson had either the most or joint-most shots for the team.

    MATCH PREDICTION: SPORTING KANSAS CITY WIN

    Sporting are unbeaten in three straight meetings with St. Louis (winning two, drawing one), including winning both matches in the 2023 playoffs after St. Louis won two of the first three meetings between the sides.

    Kansas City are also on a three-match home winning streak in all competitions, the most recent of which was a 2-1 extra-time victory over FC Dallas in the U.S. Open Cup. This is the 'longest home winning streak since winning four straight in May-June 2023.

    Meanwhile, St. Louis lost 2-0 at Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, their third straight defeat, all by at least two goals. City are looking to avoid becoming the first team to lose four straight MLS matches, all by multiple goals, since Inter Miami did so in March 2022.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Sporting Kansas City – 50.1%

    Draw – 25.2%

    St. Louis City – 24.7%

  • Howe wants Newcastle stay as long as he is 'happy' amid England links Howe wants Newcastle stay as long as he is 'happy' amid England links

    Eddie Howe says he wants to stay at Newcastle United as long as he is "happy" in his position amid links to the vacant England job.

    Gareth Southgate stepped down as the Three Lions manager on Tuesday following their Euro 2024 final defeat to Spain.

    Howe is reportedly one of the favourites to replace Southgate, though Newcastle CEO Darren Eales was confident they could keep the manager on Tyneside. 

    However, the club is undergoing changes in the off-season; co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi have left, while Paul Mitchell and James Bunce have been appointed as sporting director and performance director respectively.

    During an interview at Newcastle's pre-season training camp in Germany, Howe hinted that those shifts in the club could affect his position.

    "Being very, very proud to be Newcastle manager, this is all about Newcastle," Howe said. "It's not about England. So, as long as I am happy, feel supported, feel free to work in the way that I want to work, I have not thought of anything else other than Newcastle.

    "I absolutely love the club. I love the supporters. I love where I am at in my career. There is no better place for me to be. That is how I feel.

    "There has been a lot of change at the football club this summer. It has been a very difficult summer for everyone connected with the club. With change comes always a new feeling.

    "You can point to PSR, Amanda and Mehrdad, a change in sporting director which, of course, influences me. These are all big changes. That is why I've made the points that I have because this has to work for Newcastle.

    "It's not about me as the manager. I'm slightly irrelevant. It's about making sure Newcastle is as strong as it can be for the next season and beyond. We've all got to come together and make sure we are the force that we want to be.

    "We're in the flux of change, it's just happened. I can't say with a definitive answer where that will lead."

    While Howe did not definitively rule out leaving Newcastle to become England's manager should the FA approach him, he admitted he did not feel a big draw to the position.

    "I think England is a very special job for someone," he added. "I am very patriotic, and I'm not ashamed to say that.

    "I love my country. I want my country to do well. I was gutted for Gareth and the lads that they did not win the Euros.

    "But I don't have that job like a burning sensation in me that I have to do it at some stage. If it happens at some stage in the future, then it's to be for me.

    "If not, then I'm very, very happy in the current role that I'm doing. The day-to-day management.

    "I had this situation a lot at Bournemouth in my second spell, but I was very, very happy, in my environment, in my day-to-day workings. So, I had no desire to leave. For me, that's always been my key driver: my happiness and my ability to do my job."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.