The first leg of the third round of CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifying did not go well for Jamaica: two goals down, at home, inside the opening 10 minutes; three goals down shortly after half time. The New York Red Bulls' Kemar Lawrence stood up for his team, assuring local fans the unexpected upset (3-2 to the visitors at full time) was not down to complacency on the part of the Reggae Boyz.
Certainly, Nicaragua - currently riding a five-game winning streak in international play (albeit courtesy of having player Anguilla and Suriname twice each over four of those matches) - deserves better than to have its big win over the 2015 Gold Cup runner-up dismissed as being owed to what Jamaica did wrong rather than what Los Pinoleros did right.
As Lawrence will remember, mostly what Nicaragua did right was attack the left side of Jamaica's defense, exploiting a mistake by the RBNY left back (he mistimed an attempt to control an incoming cross and conceded a handball in the box) or his absence (the second two Nicaragua goals came from attacking a vacant left back position).
Also, credit Nicaraguan 'keeper Justo Lorente for keeping his team ahead. Yes, Jamaica found two goals late in the second half to partially salvage the situation, but the Reggae Boyz might have won handily without Lorente's intervention. The 21-year-old Real Esteli stopper may be familiar to those who have watched CONCACAF Champions League, where he has caught the eye over the last couple of seasons.
Anything less than a win (by two goals or more, or involving at least two away goals) in Nicaragua and Jamaica is out of World Cup qualifying at the first hurdle (the Reggae Boyz just got dropped into qualifying in this round).
Nicaragua vs. Jamaica
When: 9:30 p.m. ET, Tuesday, September 8
Where: Estadio Nacional Dennis Martinez, Managua, Nicaragua
TV: beIn Sports