Jamaica closed out its Copa America 2015 with its third consecutive 1-0 loss, this time to Argentina. Gonzalo Higuain scored in the 10th minute, receiving the ball with his back to goal and turning to fire a quick shot through heavy traffic. Argentina squandered many more chances, but it only takes one goal to win if your opponent can't find the net.
The New York Red Bulls' Kemar Lawrence got another start, collecting his 19th cap for his country. His personal highlight of the game was a goal-line clearance to prevent Angel Di Maria from scoring. It was a sequence that showcased the tactical awareness Lawrence has demonstrated several times for RBNY this season. He was the last man as Di Maria streaked down the field with the ball at his feet. Lawrence opted to keep his distance, track back and cover the space behind the 'keeper. Di Maria chipped Dwayne Miller with ease - but the RBNY full back had anticipated the shot and was able to clear the ball before it found the net. [Start at 1:32 on the highlights below.]
'Keeper Miller will also have emerged from this match with his reputation somewhat enhanced. He was kept busy by Argentina's All-Star (All-World?) attack, but weathered the storm admirably.
The loss sends the Reggae Boyz out of the tournament, winless and goalless. But the experience should have been formative. After a short break, Jamaica will start CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 8 (against Costa Rica). An editorial in the Jamaica Observer, written before the Argentina game, suggested the national team might be "primed to ruffle a few feathers" at the regional tournament (while also noting the squad lacks a "natural high-quality striker").
Gold Cup is the next test, though it remains to be seen how many of the players called to Chile will be asked to compete in the US-based competition. Only one player in the Copa America squad was not named to the 35-man provisional roster for the CONCACAF tournament: forward Deshorn Brown. So at least 11 players from the current 23 will be in the team for Gold Cup.
We should find out whether Kemar Lawrence is required for a second stint of national team action next week.