Everton winger Demarai Gray was the only Reggae Boy selected to the Concacaf Gold Cup Best XI unveiled on Monday.

The 27-year-old made the most in his first five matches with Jamaica, scoring two goals and chipping in with two assists while completing 86 percent of his passes. Jamaica lost to eventual champions, Mexico, at the semi-final stage.

The full team of the tournament is as follows: GK Guillermo Ochoa (MEX), DF Fidel Escobar (PAN), DF Johan Vasquez (MEX), DF Jorge Sanchez (MEX), MF Luis Chavez (MEX), MF Adalberto Carrasquilla (PAN), MF Orbelin Pineda (MEX), MF Edgar Barcenas (PAN), MF Demarai Gray (JAM), FW Jesus Ferreira (USA), FW Ismael Diaz (PAN)


Jamaica’s Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson insists that a number of positives came from the Reggae Boyz failed Concacaf Gold Cup campaign, but in the same breath, admitted that they still have much to work on, particularly, their defending.

Hallgrimsson fielded one of the strongest, if not the strongest team, on paper, in the tournament where individual quality is concerned, give the presence of English Premier League players, Michail Antonio, Demarai Gray, Bobby Reid and Leon Bailey.

Each of those players had a significant hand in Jamaica’s 1-1 draw against United States, followed by 4-1, 5-0 and 1-0 victories over Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis and Guatemala, respectively.

However, from a collective perspective, the Reggae Boyz chemistry was woefully lacking and their limitations in defence and midfield were exposed in the 0-3 semi-final loss to Mexico at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, on Wednesday.

“We are still a work in progress, some of these guys are playing for Jamaica for the first time so knowing the tactics and teammates, we hope, will improve over time so let’s see,” Hallgrimsson said.

 “I think throughout this tournament, we grew as a team we know more about each other both on and off the pitch, I think that is a good experience for us to have spent this almost five weeks together. So, they have learnt more about me, and my strengths and weaknesses and we (the coaching staff) have learnt more about the players.

“And then partnerships within in the team has grown, it is hard to say after a loss like this that we have improved as a team, but I am going to say it anyway and I think the future for Jamaica’s national team is bright, if we do it in a correct way and continue to do it in a correct way,” he added during a post-game press conference.

After Henry Martin’s second-minute goal was followed by Luis Chavez’s 30th-minute strike, the Reggae Boyz never really recovered, even though they gradually grew in the game and showed more attacking purpose, particularly at the backend of the second half.

But their push to pull one back left them open and that, coupled with their poor defending, resulted in substitute Roberto Alvarado (90+3), adding another.

“What we did poorly was stopping the crosses and when they had free crosses then it was difficult to stop the players, but our defending in general, I will have to look at that. I think collectively we weren’t as good, both defending and attacking,” said Hallgrimsson.

“But let’s also give credit to Mexico, we haven’t played as good a team as Mexico and so for us, it was always tough to come back after conceding a goal in the first minute, it was always kind of a slap in the face and then I think it took us some time to grow into the game,” he argued.

With this year’s edition of the Gold Cup not having a third-place playoff, Hallgrimsson and his team are now left to pick up the pieces and focus their attention on their next assignment, which is the Concacaf Nations League in September, and on a longer-term, the 2026 World Cup qualification.

“It’s a hard defeat to take but we try to use the positives and see what we can work on in the future. We are just trying to focus on ourselves, and I think it’s the beginning of hopefully a successful journey for Jamaica until 2026. Like I said, we wanted to win this competition, but we are thinking long term,” Hallgrimsson ended.

Reggae Boyz Assistant Coach, John Wall, believes the team has become “more unified” since their training camp in Austria prior to the Concacaf Gold Cup in the USA.

The Reggae Boyz held a pre-tournament training camp in Austria from June 11-20 which included friendly internationals against Qatar and Jordan. The Boyz came up short in both those encounters.

Since then, however, Jamaica has seen massive improvements in their performances.

Wall, in an interview of the JFF’s Instagram page, had this to say about whether or not he’s seen improvements since the Austria camp.

“Yes, especially on the team side on an emotional and team bonding level,” he said.

“I think there are bits and pieces that are falling into place and I think we are becoming even more and more unified in our ways and how we want to win games and how we want to perform overall. That’s generally my impression, so far, being in the bubble as I am,” Wall added.

They currently have a record of 3-1 in the ongoing Gold Cup and, after a 1-0 win over Guatemala in the quarterfinals on Sunday, are all set to tackle powerhouses, Mexico, in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Jamaicans will be aiming to reach the Gold Cup final for the first time since 2017.

In 2021, they lost by a goal to nil against eventual champions, USA, at the quarterfinal stage.

In a thrilling CONCACAF Gold Cup match between Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday, the Reggae Boyz secured a resounding 5-0 victory, with defender Di'Shon Bernard shining brightly on the field.

In addition to his solid defensive play, the young former Manchester United centre-back scored his first-ever goal for the national team, leaving the coach, Heimir Hallgrimsson, heaping praise upon the promising talent.

"I think he will get maybe more recognized in the upcoming years. This one is helping him a lot in that," Coach Hallgrimsson said, acknowledging the potential that Bernard possesses.

During the match, Bernard's skills stood out, and his versatility surprised the coaching staff.

"In that area, you can see his physical strength is good, his speed is good. Aerially, he's very strong. But I haven't seen this attacking skill like he showed in the opponents today," the coach noted with admiration.

 "I asked him, 'Have you ever done that before?' He replied, 'Yeah, coach, yeah, coach,' after the game. So now he is a young player, still has some things to learn, and he's going to grow for sure."

Bernard's performance on the pitch has been impressive, especially considering his relatively recent addition to the national squad. He, along with fellow newcomers (Demarai) Gray and (Joel) Latibeaudiere, has quickly integrated into the team, understanding their roles and responsibilities seamlessly.

 "I give him a lot of credit. He's new to the squad, but he has done really well since he came in. Like I said before, you give someone a chance, and he takes it," Coach Hallgrimsson added, expressing his delight with the player's dedication and skill.

Bernard's impactful performance has left the coaching staff with a pleasant dilemma of deciding on the starting lineup for future matches. "That is pleasing for coaches when players put you in a spot now, I mean in a dilemma, who I will pick for the next game. So really good," the coach admitted.

An own goal from St Kitts goalkeeper Julani Archibald, Corey Burke, Daniel Johnson and Corey Burke completed the scoring for Jamaica who finished on seven points for second place in Group A. The Reggae Boyz advanced to the quarter-final round of the Gold Cup.

For all the talks about his winless streak in eight friendly games, Jamaica's Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said he never paid much attention to those numbers as the fact remained that he was yet to lose a game at a major tournament.

In fact, Hallgrimsson, who registered his first win since taking the reins to guide the Reggae Boyz late last year, pointed out that the team's 4-1 drubbing of Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago in their second Concacaf Gold Cup Group A fixture on Wednesday, was a strong indicator that time and greater consistency, could lead to better results going forward.

Prior to this Gold Cup triumph, Hallgrimsson had lost 0-3 to Argentina, 0-1 to Trinidad and Tobago, and 2-1 to Qatar and Jordan respectively, in friendly fixtures. His record also includes, 1-1 and goalless score lines with Cameroon and Trinidad and Tobago, also in friendlies, followed by a 2-2 Nations League stalemate with Mexico and more recently a 1-1 stalemate with United States in their Gold Cup opener.

While for some the victory Demarai Gray (14th and 28th), Leon Bailey (17th) and 17-year-old Dujuan "Whisper" Richards (90+2), who became the youngest scorer in the history of the tournament, was a relief, the Icelandic tactician said the focus was more on building a competitive team.

Andre Rampersad (49th) got the consolation for the twin island republic.

"It didn't affect me at all, I was not counting," Hallgrimsson declared during a post-game press conference at Citypark in St Louis, Missouri. 

"I will tell you another fact, I haven't lost a competitive game for Jamaica and that is what matters, the competitive matches. I am pretty sure this team will grow, there are a lot of young players starting to play for us and they will only grow as the tournament gets older. That is the important thing about tournament like these.

"Normally in a FIFA Window when you have players for seven days, eight days, maximum, and you have two matches, there is so little you can do to connect with them at that time. But when you have a tournament like this, you can always add things where you can improve the understanding between individual players. So, it's helping us a lot which is why it's important to be here and that is why it is important to make it to the Copa America next year as well, so we can continue grow as a team," he added.

Hallgrimsson, who was also taken to task about his selection of rising sensation Richards, argued that the late goal scored by the Chelsea-bound prospect, justified the coaching staff's decision.

He reiterated the fact that the former Kingston College talisman, who was making his Gold Cup debut, still have immense scope for improvements which will come in time as Richards learns from his more experienced counterparts.

"Normally I don't like to talk about individual players, but we were criticised for picking the kid and he only needed 10 minutes to score a goal, so that shows why we selected him, and I don't think he knows what he is going to do, the opponents don't know what he is going to do but he is lethal. 

 "I have to admit when he took the shot, I was wondering why he was shooting from that range, but he scored, so he is kind of like the guy that defy the odds a little bit and all teams need players like him. As I said before he has a lot to learn, but he still knows a lot and can do a lot right now," Hallgrimsson shared.

He also spoke highly of Gray, who celebrated his 27th birthday with a brace in only his second appearance as a Jamaican international. 

"Demarai, everybody knew he was a longtime coming, I think we started talking about him coming to Jamaica two years ago so for everyone to see now how good a individual talent he is, taking players on, he is a real quality on the field, and he is fast as well. It will take time for him to really get into the tactics and get to know the players around him, but I think it was a good birthday present he gave to all of us scoring two goals and I think he had a really good game," Hallgrimsson noted.

That said, Hallgrimsson lauded the dominance of his Reggae Boyz unit to not only consistently break down the Soca Warriors 5-4-1 defensive formation, but more importantly, maintain their composure and firm defensive posture for the most parts.

"We have good depth in the squad, not much difference between some players and we have tried these players in these positions before, so it was good to give both Javain [Brown] and Dexter Lembikisa a chance to play and Amari'i was a little bit injured, so we didn't want to risk him so that's why Taxi [Kemar Lawrence] started at left back and did a good job there. But at half time, he felt a little stiffening up, so we moved Dexter to the left and Joel Latibeaudiere played right. 

"So there were a lot of changes going on in these positions and then just the rotations of the centre-backs, I think Dishon Bernard did a really good job, so I hope Jamaicans are happy to see that there is a young centre-back coming up, he showed his strength and character in this game and in generally was really good," Hallgrimsson reasoned.

"I don't think Trinidad created a chance except for the goal, I think that was the only chance they created, so that's good and shows the defensive game we played today (Wednesday)," he ended.

Trinidad and Tobago's Head coach Angus Eve intends to lift the mood of his dejected players, as they aim to keep their Concacaf Gold Cup campaign alive after being outclassed by Jamaica in a 1-4 loss that has basically eliminated the Soca Warriors from the tournament. 

Trinidad and Tobago's chances of claiming one of two spots from Group A evaporated thanks to goals from Demarai Gray (14th and 28th), Leon Bailey (17th) and Dujuan Richards (90+2). Andre Rampersad (49th) pulled one back for the twin island republic.

Angus and his team still have a glimmer of hope of progressing to the knockout stages, but it will require an unlikely win or draw against powerhouse and favourites United States in their final group fixture on July 2, while hoping newcomers St Kitts and Nevis also pull off an unlikely win over Jamaica by a wide margin.

United States, who hammered St Kitts and Nevis 6-0 currently heads the group on four points, same as Jamaica but with a healthy six-goal difference to Reggae Boyz three. Trinidad and Tobago are third on three points, while the Sugar Boys on their Gold Cup debut are yet to earn a point.

"We just have to pick the guys up, the dressing room is very dejected this is the first match we have lost in about nine for the season and we don't normally concede goals but I thought that the second half when we came back on I thought that we were really in the game and we created a lot of chances," said Angus, who rued what he thought was a handball against Jamaica's defender Damion Lowe.

In real time, it seemed the ball did in fact come off Lowe's hand and Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero thought so too when he initially awarded the penalty. However, by the VAR, the replay showed that the ball came off Lowe's head.

"I think the handball should have been a penalty. Unfortunately, we don't get to see it (replays) on the pitch anymore, at one point we had a tablet where we could see it. From where we were, the hand was in an unnatural position, but it was a penalty and then it wasn't a penalty, we didn't get any explanation as to why not," Angus argued.

Going into the second contest with a 5-4-1 defensive formation after a comprehensive 3-0 win over St Kitts and Nevis in their opener, Trinidad and Tobago seemingly had all their bases covered, but things didn't pan out as Angus expected.

Their defence was easily and consistently broken down by the Jamaicans who were quick to press the ball and the Soca Warriors were at times caught ball watching. In fact, Gray was left unmarked on both occasions when he scored and the one attempt Trinidad and Tobago made at pushing a high line, they were beaten by a timely run from Bailey who went on to beat Nicklaus Frenderup in a one-one-one situation.

The Soca Warriors did come into their own in the second have and looked threatening in open play, though they were unable to get anymore that Rampersad's cheeky heel finish.

Aside from possibly being star-struck, Angus believes there was some positives to work with which he is hoping they can improve on ahead of Sunday's encounter.

"I thought the second half we were way more positive it seems like we settled down better credit to Jamaica, the type of players that they have and the quality that they have in the team, we don't have that type of quality, so it was always going to be a struggle.

"But when you give away soft goals...I thought we gave away a lot of soft goals very early and we had to dig ourselves out of a hole. I think we also started really slow, but as I said I take full blame for it, the aim was to keep the game as tight as possible in the first half so we could go out and express ourselves a little bit more in the second half, but we just didn't defend well," Angus explained.

That said, the tactician gave some insight to his decision not to start three of his best players in what was a vital fixture.

"Triston Hodge had a tight hamstring, Kevin Molino is just coming back into football, and he complained that he was really tired so he didn't feel like he could start and then Auvray had some little knocks and bruises. So, we made the three changes, we were trying to keep the game a little bit tight in the first half so we could probably get those players on. 

"So, we had the plan from the time they got the goals, unfortunately we seem to be a bit nervous, I think big name (players) probably scare us and we made some bad mistakes. But I take full blame for the result because I am the coach of the team," he ended.


Demarai Gray had a birthday to remember, as he got on the score sheet twice to lead Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz to a 4-1 win over Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago in their second Concacaf Gold Cup Group A fixture, at Citypark in St Louis, Missouri on Wednesday.

Gray, making his second appearance for the Reggae Boyz, celebrated his 27th birthday in style when he scored his first goal as a Jamaican international in the 14th minute and added a second in the 28th minute.

The Everton winger’s second came after Leon Bailey (17th) doubled the lead, while Chelsea-bound rising sensation Dujuan Richards, who was an 82nd-minute substitute, capped the victory with his first senior team goal in the 90+2 minute. With that, the 17-year-old became the youngest ever goalscorer in Gold Cup history.

Trinidad and Tobago got what turned out to be a consolation through Andre Rampersad in the 49th minute.

The win –which was also Heimir Hallgrimsson’s first since taking the reins as Jamaica’s Head coach late last year –provisionally saw the Boyz to the top of the standing on four points, one ahead of Trinidad and Tobago.

Group favourites United States, on a point, were leading newcomers St Kitts and Nevis, without a point, 4-0 at half-time in the late kickoff.

The much-anticipated clash between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago

Was the first international men’s game to be played at the 22,000-plus capacity stadium and though it wasn’t the most attractive or entertaining encounter, the spectators that turned out were well treated to five goals.

It was initially projected to be a close contest, especially as the Soca Warriors Head coach Angus Eve opted for a defensive 5-4-1 formation that was expected to prove difficult for the Reggae Boyz to break down.   

But it became clear early that the objective of the formation would prove futile, as Michail Antonio dispossessed a defender a played a cheeky pass off to send Bobby Reid on his way. However, Reid took an unwanted touch and later hit the ball in the side netting.

The Soca Warriors briefly enjoyed a good passage of possession where they looked threatening in open play but couldn't create any meaningful opportunity and later found themselves behind.

In the 14th minute, a decent build up by the Reggae Boyz ended with Bailey finding an unmarked Gray, who buried his right-footed effort in the left corner beyond the slightly advanced, Frenderup in goal for Trinidad and Tobago.

Bailey doubled the lead three minutes later when he timed his run to perfection to latch on to a long pass from Joel Latibeaudiere and finished with aplomb in a one-one-one situation with Frenderup. The goal was initially flagged as offside, but that decision was later overturned on by VAR.

The Soca Warriors tried to play their game but were hardly allowed any room to cause any problems for Jamaica’s defence and, as such, only absorbed consistent pressure. 

They found themselves 3-0 down before the half-hour mark after Kevon Lambert won possession and found Antonio. The West Ham man then slipped by a defender and placed a pass on a platter for the wide-opened Gray to complete one of the easiest finishes of his career.

As the score remained unchanged at the break, the half-time team talk by Angus, coupled with Jamaica's defensive frailties, saw Trinidad pulling one back four minutes into the resumption.

Captain Levi Garcia got away from Jamaica’s debutant Dishon Bernard and drove a pass in for Rampersad to apply a back heel finish beyond Andre Blake, while under pressure from two defenders.  

Still, the Jamaicans continued to apply consistent pressure and created numerous opportunities to add to their tally, but those were squandered due to both faulty shooting and poor decision-making.

It wasn’t until close to the end that they got another when Richards’s shot from a distance took a wicked deflection and sailed past the flat-footed Frenderup, who had no chance.

Teams: Jamaica -Andre Blake, Damion Lowe, Kemar Lawrence (Dexter Lembikisa 46th), Bobby Reid (Shamar Nicholson 62nd), Joel Latibeaudiere, Kevon Lambert, Demarai Gray, Leon Bailey (Dujuan Richards 82nd), Michail Antonio (Corey Burke 77th), Dishon Bernard, Javain Brown (Daniel Johnson 62nd

Subs not used: Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Jahmali Waite, Kaheem Parris, Jonathan Russell, Adrian Mariappa, Amari’i Bell,

Booked: Brown (9th), Lowe (75th)

Trinidad & Tobago: Nicklas Frenderup, Alvin Jones, Sheldon Bateau, Kareem Moses, Aubrey David, Shannon Gomez (Molik Khan 76th), Malcolm Shaw, Andre Rampersad (Kevin Molino 63rd), Ajani Fortune (Kaile Auvray 46th), Levi Garcia, Neveal Hackshaw

Subs not Used: Marvin Phillip, Denzil Smith, Leland Archer, Luke Singh, Triston Hodge, Ryan Telfer, Joevin Jones, Real Gill, Kadeem Corbin

Booked: Hackshaw (5th), Bateau (41st), Jones (73rd)

Referee: Fernando Guerrero (Mexico)

Assistant referees: Enrique Bustos (Mexico); Jorge Sanchez (Mexico)

Fourth Official: Reon Radix (Grenada)

Var: Benjamin Pineda (Costa Rica)

Avar1: Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica)

Though his missed penalty saw the Reggae Boyz dropping points in their Concacaf Gold Cup opener against United States, winger Leon Bailey says it doesn't take away from the fact that he gave his best for the team.

With Jamaica up 1-0 in the first half of the game, Bailey could have doubled the lead but hit his 12-yard kick at a decent height for Matt Turner, in goal for United States to block. However, the Aston Villa man had a second bite at the cherry as the rebound came right into his path, but even then, he failed to capitalise with an empty net at his mercy.

The game ended 1-1 after Brandon Vazquez's 88th-minute strike, cancelled out Damion Lowe's 13th-minute goal at Soldier Field in Chicago.

While not using added pressure as an excuse, Bailey said critics have little idea of what it is like being a player of his calibre tasked with performing efficiently at all times.

"Do you know how much pressure I'm always under when I'm representing the national team? But that's no excuse for me because I've been in the game for too long now. I've been a professional for eight years. I'm used to pressure," Bailey said during a pre-game press conference on Tuesday.

The former Genk and Bayer Leverkusen player has often been heavily scrutinised for his style of play, as he tends to hog possession of the ball and oftentimes over dribbles, and, as a result, thwarts the team's progress in the process.

Still, Bailey, who made his Reggae Boyz debut in 2019 and has so far logged three goals and four assists in 19 games, rubbished those claims, while expressing his unwavering passion for leaving it all on the field.

"It has nothing to do with the way I play. If you watch how I play, you will see that I always try to do my best, I always work hard, and no matter what, I'll always give 110 per cent for my nation, and that will never stop," he declared. 

"If that means I didn't perform well, then so be it. When I walk off the pitch I want to know that I gave my 110 and I did that against the US and nobody's ever going to take that away from me. Once my family is good, the team is good, we're all good, I'm good. 

"I'm always going to be there for my teammates and so they're always there for me as well and that's what really matters. At the end of the day, football is a sport in that you win some, you lose some, you make mistakes, and you go again. That's just life and football," Bailey added.

The 25-year-old and the new-look Reggae Boyz team will be hoping to make amends when they take on leaders Trinidad and Tobago in their second Group A contest at City Park in St Louis, Missouri, this evening at 6:30 pm Jamaica time.

Meanwhile, United States and pointless newcomers St Kitts and Nevis, who went down 0-3 to the Soca Warriors in their open game, will do battle at 8:30 pm.

Reggae Boyz Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who is still hunting his first win since taking the reins, knows the importance of this fixture with their Caribbean rivals and, as such, is backing his team to come good.

"The second game is always important. A win for Trinidad would get them through. We know what we are facing; we need to get good results against them. We just want to go out there so we can have a good performance and hopefully a win. That's the only thing we are thinking about at this stage of the tournament," Hallgrimsson said. 

In their most recent meeting on Jamaican soil, Trinidad and Tobago won 1-0 with the other contest ending in as a goalless stalemate. 

“The Trinidad games we played in Jamaica, there was a lot of long balls, there was a lot of fight everywhere on the pitch; it was not played much on the ground, those matches. We kind of played the same style in those games. It wasn’t pretty to watch, so, hopefully, we can do better. When we have the ball, we can hopefully play better than we did in Jamaica," the Icelandic coach stated.

“We will not get anything for free. We will face hard tackles, a lot of balls to fight for — the first balls, the second balls, we have just been talking about that. We are growing as a unit, as a team, and the understanding between the players about the tactics is increasing as we play more games together. We will grow as a team,” he ended.


Preston midfielder Daniel Johnson will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the month.

The Jamaica international had been in discussions over a new deal with the Deepdale club but has now told them that he wants a new challenge.

He has made more than 300 appearances and scored 57 goals since arriving from Aston Villa in 2015.

Manager Ryan Lowe told the club’s website: “We’re disappointed but DJ wants a new challenge.

“I had a fantastic relationship with DJ and all the players did and I’m sure all the fans did too, but sometimes people want fresh challenges and that’s what DJ’s told us he wants to do, and we have to respect that decision.

“It’s disappointing because of what he’s done here over the years and we’d have liked to have had a better send off for him, if this was going to be the case.

“We’ve been in dialogue with him for a long time regarding him staying. We’ve done everything we possibly can to keep him, but we wish DJ all the best as he moves on to a new venture.”

The 30-year-old helped Preston win promotion from League One after arriving midway through the 2014-15 season and has been a feature of their midfield during eight years of mostly midtable finishes in the Championship.

He has been capped eight times by Jamaica since making his debut in 2020.

Heimir Hallgrimsson’s wait to register his first win as Jamaica’s Head coach has been prolonged, as his Reggae Boyz squandered an opportunity from the penalty spot, as well as a lengthy lead, and were held to a 1-1 stalemate by United States in their Concacaf Gold Cup Group A opening fixture on Saturday.

Defender Damion Lowe gave the Reggae Boyz a 13th minute lead, which was later cancelled out by substitute Brandon Vazquez in the 88th minute to rescue a point for United States in a contest that lived up to its billing in entertainment value for the massive crowd at the Soldier Field in Chicago.

Though they will be pleased with the point, the Jamaicans will also feel hard done given the fact that Leon Bailey should have converted from the 12-yard spot. But take nothing away from United States goalkeeper Matt Turner, whose save on his birthday proved the difference, though Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake was also at his best between the sticks to spare their blushes.

Both teams started positively and signalled intentions with a few direct passes from the back into the attacking third to keep their respective defensive units on their toes.

Jamaica found a break in the eighth minute with Bailey finding debutant Demarai Gray out wide, the Everton winger showed glimpses of his nippy footwork and later played a dangerous pass inside that was cleared by the United States defence. 

The host responded almost immediately and caught Jamaica's defenders flat-footed with Jordan Morris finding loads of space in the final third to get a shot off from close range that was kept out by Blake who got down well to his left.

Still, United States struggled to deal with the pressure posed by the new look Reggae Boyz as again set pieces proved their undoing when the Jamaicans eventually broke the deadlock.

After Bailey was fouled by Jordan Morris, Gray delivered a perfectly weighted free kick which was expertly met by Lowe with a diving header that gave Turner in goal for United States, no chance at a save.

Jamaica should have doubled the lead from the penalty spot just before the half-hour mark when Amari’i Bell’s long throw inside the danger area was headed on by Michail Antonio to Kevon Lambert, who was taken out by Aidan Morris’s high boot.

Mexican referee Cesar Ramos quickly pointed to the spot and Bailey confidently stood over the ball, but the Aston Villa winger badly fluffed his lines, sending his penalty at a perfect height for Turner to save. He had a grand opportunity to make amends but steered the rebound wide as well.

That missed opportunity gave United States hope and they gradually found their rhythm, though they were assisted by some sloppy Reggae Boyz defending at times. One such occasion was in the latter stages of the first half, when Jordan Morris easily waltzed his way through on goal and it took some brilliance from Blake to deny him.

With momentum in their favour, United States came out lively on the resumption as Head coach BJ Callaghan made the adjustments with the introduction of Vazquez, Cristian Roldan and Djordje Mihailovic, who injected some tempo into their attacking thrust, as they probed for the equalizer.

A gorgeous interplay by United States in the 70th minute paved the way for Roldan to get a shot off from close range, but Blake again came up big to keep the Reggae Boyz in front.

As the game drew closer to its climax, the Jamaicans withdrew into a defensive posture, desperately trying to preserve their lead which would have not only handed Hallgrimsson his first win eight games, but also condemned United States to their first Gold Cup opening loss.

The victory would have also been Jamaica’s second against United States at this tournament following their semi-finals triumph in 2015.

However, all that went out the window when Vazquez pounced on a poor clearance from a Jesus Ferreira cross to put the ball away from close range.

This stalemate represents an opportunity for Trinidad and Tobago or St Kitts and Nevis to assume early pole position in the group, provided they separate themselves in Sunday’s fixture.

Teams: Jamaica -Andre Blake, Dexter Lembikisa, Damion Lowe, Adrian Mariappa, Amari’i Bell (Kemar Lawrence 65th), Bobby Reid, Joel Latibeaudiere, Kevon Lambert, Demarai Gray (Daniel Johnson 90th), Leon Bailey (Shamar Nicholson 90th), Michail Antonio (Corey Burke 75th)

Subs not used: Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Jahmali Waite, Dishon Bernard, Javain Brown, Kaheem Parris, Jonathan Russell, Dujuan Richards

Booked: Lowe (3rd), Lawrence (83rd), Blake (85th)

United States: Matthew Turner, Deandre Yedlin, Matt Miazga, Aaron Long (Jalen Neal 46th), John Tolkin (Brandon Vázquez 82nd), Alejandro Zendejas (Djordje Mihailovic 66th), Aidan Morris, James Sands, Jordan Morris (Cade Cowell 55th), Jesús Ferreira, Alan Soñora (Cristian Roldan 66th)

Subs not Used: Sean Johnson, Gabriel Slonina, Bryan Reynolds, Miles Robinson, Dejuan Jones, Gianluca Busio

Booked: None

Referee: Cesar Ramos (Mex)

Assistant referees: Alberto Morin (Mex); Marco Bisguerra (Mex)

Fourth Official: Fernando Guerrero (Mex)

Var: Erick Miranda (Mex)

Avar1: Jorge Perez (Mex)

Demarai Gray has had much success at the club level, coming through the youth system at Birmingham City, winning the Premier League with Leicester City, had a brief stint with German club Bayer Leverkusen and is now at home with Everton.

But Gray has always really enjoyed redefining the expectations of himself by pushing to the next level, which is why his move to represent Jamaica could not have come at a better time, as he believes there is much for him to achieve on the international stage.

The 26-year-old represented England at the under-21 level where he earned 26 caps between 2016 and 2018 and was a member of the senior team to the 2018 World Cup in Russia but did not feature in any game.

It is the lack of opportunities with the England senior team, that influenced Gray's decision to obtain a Jamaican passport through his maternal grandparents, and he has set himself a long-term goal of helping the Reggae Boyz reach a major tournament.

"Obviously the country has been trying to get a hold of me for a long time, so when you feel wanted and valued, it is always great for my confidence based on where I am at in my career and the things I want to achieve and stuff. Now is the right time to hit those targets and I'm getting to the peak of my career so I'm ready, I'm at a good point and I want to create memories and history with the country," Gray declared.

"We (the players) respect the support of the fans, me personally, I love the vibe and the culture and hopefully with the fans, we can come together as one big nation and create good things. Obviously, now it's time for the Gold Cup but in the long run, I think we will keep improving, keeping getting stronger as a team and with the support of the fans we can do special stuff," he added.

The winger's first assignment with the Reggae Boyz will be a baptism of fire of sorts, as Heimir Hallgrimsson's side are set to open their Concacaf Gold Cup campaign with Group A against reigning seven-time champion United States at Soldier Field in Chicago later this evening at 9:06pm Jamaica time. Trinidad and Tobago and first-timer St Kitts and Nevis are also a part of the group.

Having endured the lengthy process that comes with switching allegiance, Gray is intent on making it count by producing a string of his usual quality and eye-catching performances.

"It's good to finally be her I kind of feel like it's been a long time coming, it was not a simple process so to get it over the line in time for this tournament was important and good for me. 

I'm just grateful and obviously proud to represent Jamaica and hopefully I can put in some good performances, score some goals and create some history for Jamaica," Gray reasoned.

"I am feeling good after a fairly short break, I'm refreshed, obviously the conditions are tough here but over the next few days, hopefully, I will adapt to it and hopefully I'll get off to a good start," he said. 

That Gray found it so easy to settle in with the Reggae Boyz, comes from the fact that he has not only rubbed shoulders with the other English-based players before, but because they all have the same ambition and goal --to make Jamaica proud.

"I am excited to be around the boys I know it’s a strong team everyone is together, and the vibes is good and stuff so it's good so far. I played with A'mari [Bell] at the youth level and Bailey in Germany where he helped me settle in there as well and he was on me about joining the (Reggae Boyz) team and Wes Morgan as well when he was at Leicester told me about stuff here and the ambitions," Gray shared.

"Then I met the manager and he expanded on it, so collectively a lot of people influenced my decision but personally I've been looking forward to doing this, so it's good to finally settle in. Where I am at now in my career, there are things I want to achieve and I feel like I can do that here in Jamaica and like I said, the whole team is positive and I feel like it's a good start being here at the Gold Cup, it's an achievement," he noted.

Given his blossoming form, his confidence on the ball and his willingness to take on his man, the soft-spoken player will certainly complement the likes of Bailey, Michail Antonio, Shamar Nicholson and others in what is without a doubt, a quality team on paper.

"Like a lot of the boys are saying, it's probably the strongest squad they have been involved in, so I am happy to influence and play my part to help the team achieve things in the tournament and obviously in the future as well, reach the next World Cup and things like that.

"So, I think it's exciting times for Jamaica, not only now, because the next few years, it's only going to get stronger. So we can look long term, but for now, we are just focused on this tournament and making sure that we get a good start," Gray ended.



Though he is still yet to fully absorb West Ham United's UEFA Europa Conference League triumph, Michail Antonio is hoping to add a bit more history to that club success, this time for his country by upsetting the apple cart at the Concacaf Gold Cup with Jamaica's Reggae Boyz.

The 16-team biennial championship for North America, Central America and the Caribbean gets under way at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday, with the Reggae Boyz set to open against reigning seven-time champion United States in Group A, which also includes Trinidad and Tobago and first-timer St Kitts and Nevis.

Antonio, who was instrumental in West Ham's successful run to their first major European honour since 1965 when they defeated Fiorentina 1-0 in the Europa Conference League final earlier this month, said the feeling is still somewhat indescribable, but lifting the Gold Cup would certainly help him snap out of his dreamlike state.

The 36-year-old was the Hammers's top scorer with 14 goals in the season, which he pointed out was the most enjoyable of his eight seasons at the club, and he is now aiming to bring that form to the fore on the international stage.

"Obviously, I know I won the Europa Conference League, but it hasn't set home as yet, but it was amazing feeling celebrating with the Jamaican flag, everyone there was celebrating their country, so I was definitely celebrating mine and the island where my mom grew up and the place where she always brought me from when I was young. 

"So, it (winning the Europa Conference League) was an opportunity for me to have the Jamaican flag around me and I was never going to miss that opportunity. But I'm here now with the Jamaican team and hoping to win another title," Antonio said.

He will have plenty more opportunities to celebrate the black, gold and green, provided all goes accordingly for the Heimir Hallgrimsson-coached Reggae Boyz throughout their campaign.

Should the Jamaicans come out successful at the end of this year’s Gold Cup, it would be their first title in the history of the tournament that started in 1991. They went close in the 2015 and 2017 finals which they lost 3-1 and 2-1 to Mexico and United States respectively. 

Aside from their 2015 upset semi-final win en route to the final, the Reggae Boyz have struggled in games against the United States in the tournament, losing five of their last six meetings, the most recent being in 2019 and 2021, when they went down 3-1 and 1-0 in the semifinals and quarterfinals.

By virtue of those statics, Saturday's opener will by no means be easy, but Antonio seems confident the Boyz will test the mettle of the B.J. Callaghan-coached United States team that is missing some key players, who factored in their recent Concacaf Nations League triumph. 

"It (our build up) has been good, spirits seem high, everyone seems confident, and the training went well. It was my first session with the team and I'm quite positive. Obviously, I've got one cup down and like I said, I am here for another," Antonio reiterated. 

"I am definitely enjoying coming here (into tournaments) and linking up with the boys, we have a good bond now, as the atmosphere and the camaraderie is always good. I enjoy it and we're going to keep going," he added.

With the Reggae Boyz team bolstered by other Premier League attacking talents such as Aston Villa's Leon Bailey, newcomer Demarai Gray of Everton and Fulham's Bobby Reid, Antonio believes the team has enough quality to not only end Hallgrimsson's seven-match winless streak, but more importantly, lay a solid foundation, as they build towards the 2026 World Cup. 

"One thing with the Jamaican team is that there is a lot of potential and quality out there and people are starting to turn up. Obviously quite a few Premier League players are now in the setup, Demarai Gray, Bobby Reid, Me, Bailey, so there are some quality players turning up here," Antonio said. 

"But it is not just the Premier League players, obviously there are a lot of quality players from the Island, Andre Blake, being named keeper of the year last year in the US, so it's a good squad being built," he ended.


Forwards Leon Bailey, Michail Antonio and newcomer Demarai Gray headline Jamaica’s 23-man squad for the Concacaf Gold Cup beginning on Saturday in the USA.

The squad was unveiled during a JFF press conference on Monday.

Aston Villa’s Bailey will be participating in his third Gold Cup while West Ham United’s Antonio, who helped his club win the Europa Conference League earlier this month, and Everton’s Gray will be participating in the Gold Cup for the first time.

On the other hand, Captain, Andre Blake and left back, Kemar Lawrence will each be appearing in their fifth Gold Cup for the Reggae Boyz.

Also selected was Chelsea-bound 17-year-old attacker Dujuan “Whisper” Richards.

The Reggae Boyz will open their campaign against the USA at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday.

The full squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Jamali Waite (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Coniah Boyce-Clarke (Reading)

Defenders: Amari’i Bell (Luton Town), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford), Di’shon Bernard, Adrian Mariappa (Salford City), Dexter Lembikisa (Wolves), Damion Lowe (Philadelphia Union), Javain Brown (Vancouver Whitecaps), Kemar Lawrence (Minnesota United)

Midfielders: Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising, (Jonathan Russell (Barnsley), Joel Latibeaudiere (Swansea), Bobby Reid (Fulham), Daniel Johnson (Preston North End), Kaheem Parris (Dynamo Kyiv)

Forwards: Michail Antonio (West Ham), Shamar Nicholson (Spartak Moscow), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), Cory Burke (New York Red Bulls), Dujuan Richards (Phoenix Academy), Demarai Gray (Everton)



The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) named a strong 50-man provisional squad for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup scheduled for June 24-July 16 in Canada and the United States.

The big names in the squad are regulars Leon Bailey, Michail Antonio as well as newcomer Demarai Gray.

Amari’i Bell, who helped Luton Town advance to the Premier League over the weekend, is also among the names in contention for the final 23-man squad.

The full squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Amal Knight (Lexington SC), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Coniah Boyce-Clarke (Reading), Corey Addai (Crawley Town), Jahmali Waite (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Kemar Foster (Waterhouse FC)

Defenders: Adrian Mariappa (Salford City), Alvas Powell (FC Cincinnati), Amari’i Bell (Luton Town), Damion Lowe (Philadelphia Union), Dexter Lembikisa (Wolves), Dishon Bernard (Portsmouth FC), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford FC), Fitzroy Cummings (Vere United), Gregory Leigh (Ipswich Town), Ian Fray (Inter Miami), Javain Brown (Vancouver Whitecaps), Joel Latibeaudiere (Swansea City), Kemar Lawrence (Minnesota United), Luke Badley-Morgan (Stoke City), Oshane Stape (Harbour View), Ricardo Thomas (Dunbeholden), Richard King (IBV), Wesley Harding (Rotherham United)

Midfielders: Bobby Reid (Fulham), Daniel Johnson (Preston North End), Delano Splatt (Fulham), Demario Phillips (Mount Pleasant), Devon Williams (Colorado Switchback), Jonathan Russell (Barnsley), Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising), Lamar Walker (Portmore United), Michael Hector (Charlton Athletic), Omari Hutchinson (Chelsea), Ravel Morrison (DC United)

Attackers: Atapharoy Bygrave (Mount Pleasant), Collin Anderson (Cavalier SC), Cory Burke (NY Red Bulls), Daniel Green (Ho Chi Minh City), Demarai Gray (Everton), Dujuan Richards (Phoenix Academy), Jamal Lowe (Queens Park Rangers), Junior Flemmings (Toulouse), Kaheem Parris (Dynamo Kyiv), Kemar Roofe (Rangers), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Renaldo Cephas (KF Schkupi), Shamar Nicholson (Spartak Moscow), Trivante Stewart (Mount Pleasant)


Reggae Boy Amari’i Bell will be playing English Premier League football next season after he helped Luton Town F.C defeat Coventry City 6-5 on penalties in the Championship Playoff Final at Wembley on Saturday.

The 29-year-old left back played all 120 minutes as the Hatters, as they are called, secured Premier League football for the first time since 1992.

Luton Town took the lead in the 23rd minute through Jordan Clark before Coventry equalized in the 66th minute through Gustavo Hamer.

Then, with the teams locked at 5-5 in the penalty shootout, Coventry’s Fankaty Dabo missed in sudden death to give Luton the win.

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