Jamaica is hosting a Gold Cup game for the first time in tournament history
The Jamaican National Football Team is no stranger to the Gold Cup. While they aren't considered royalty like the United States, Mexico, Canada, or Costa Rica, they've participated in 11 of the 15 Gold Cups played since its inception in 1991. Despite their activity in this tournament, they have yet to take home the Gold Cup trophy. Before the "Reggae Boyz" start thinking championship, they first need to deal with Honduras.
"Los Catrachos" as the Honduran team is nicknamed, also are veterans of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. They're making their ninth consecutive appearance and are playing in the event for the 14th time overall. Honduras also has made strides in this event without winning it all. This match in Group C play will certainly be an intense one as Jamaica will literally have home-field advantage. This game will be played in Kingston, which will make Jamaica the second country to host a Gold Cup match outside of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Costa Rica became the first country to achieve this milestone this past weekend and rode that momentum to a 4-0 opening win over Nicaragua on Sunday. Both Jamaica and Honduras are on a mission to solidify their countries' legacies in this event, and they hope to become the next dominant force within CONCACAF.
Jamaica vs. Honduras
When: Monday, June 17 at 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: National Stadium (Kingston, Jamaica)
TV: FS1 and Univision
Three Things to Watch
1. The Reggae Boyz
Playing in 11 of 15 editions of any tournament is an achievement in itself, even outside of the FIFA World Cup. Jamaica has made its presence felt in the soccer world over the last 20 years or so and has especially left a mark on the Gold Cup. They have a 16-18-7 all-time record in this event, reaching the finals in each of the last two Gold Cups only to fall short against Mexico (2015) and Team USA (2017) by the combined score of 5-2. Jamaica was able to finish third in the 1993 edition, fourth in '98, and reached the knockout rounds in 2003, '05, and '11. The only World Cup the Jamaican team has participated in thus far was in 1998. The Jamaicans were eliminated in the group stage.
Jamaica also has played in South America's Copa America tournament twice (2015, '16) and is a six-time Caribbean Cup champion (1991, '98, 2005, '08, '10, '14). The Jamaicans have gone 5-3-1 in their last nine matches heading into this year's Gold Cup. Eleven of the 23 players on the team participate in either Major League Soccer or the USL Championship at the club level. Goalkeeper Andre Blake (33 caps, 2017 Gold Cup Golden Glove Award winner), midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (78 caps, 4 goals), and forward Darren Mattocks (45 caps, 17 goals) are the top players for Jamaica.
2. Viva Honduras
The Honduran team has just as impressive of a Gold Cup record at 18-21-8. The runner-up in 1991, Honduras has reached the semifinals four times (2005, '09, '11, '13), and made it to the knockout stage three other times (2000, '07, '17). The Central American country has also placed third in the 2001 Copa America (defeating Bolivia, Uruguay and Brazi), and is a four-time Copa Centroamericana champion (1993, '95, 2011, '17). Honduras won the 1981 CONCACAF Championship (pre-Gold Cup, finished second in 1985), as well as silver medals at the 1986 Central American Games and the '99 Pan American Games. The Honduran national team also has qualified for three FIFA World Cups (1982, 2010, '14).
Twenty of the 23 players on Honduras' roster are under the age of 30 but this is a team with plenty of experience with a combined 367 caps (and 34 total goals). The leaders of this team are a trio of veteran defensemen in Maynor Figueroa (36), Emilio Izaguirre (33), and Brayan Beckeles (32), who have totaled 321 combined caps and 10 combined goals in their careers.
3. National Stadium
Jamaica has the luxury of one of the best home-field advantages in all of soccer. Since 2010 alone, Jamaica's record at National Stadium (part of Independence Park) sits at 8-6-5. The home team has scored 17 goals during that stretch and hasn't lost there since September 2016. Honduras has its work cut out on Monday night.
I expect plenty of goals to be scored in this game, but having the advantage of home soil and what should be a sizeable advantage in the stands means Jamaica will ultimately prevail.
Prediction: Jamaica 4, Honduras 3
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.