It wasn’t the dominating home performance it might have hoped for, but Jamaica did secure its third consecutive victory in 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying with a 2-1 win over Suriname in Montego Bay on November 17.
And Kemar Lawrence helped the Reggae Boyz on their way to three points by teeing up Cory Burke for the opening goal in the seventh minute.
Lawrence played the full 90 minutes of the must-win match for Jamaica. The team’s final game of CNL Qualifying is a road-trip to El Salvador - and that is a match the Reggae Boyz would prefer to play without absolutely needing three points. The win over Suriname should relieve them of that burden, though they will have to wait for the end of the current round of games to be certain of where they stand in their hunt for a top-six finish in the CNL Qualifying table, and the 2019 Gold Cup berth and top-tier allocation in 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League that will come with it.
Mostly, all Jamaica can do in this tournament is win the games it has to play, and it has done that so far. Not always as convincingly as the team and its fans might like, but three wins from three games reduces any argument about Jamaica’s performances to a quarrel over goal difference - and that is a better problem to have than most that could have cropped up by this point in the competition.
Prior to this match, Jamaica had beaten Cayman Islands and Bonaire by a combined total of 10-0. Suriname hasn’t been a pushover for some time now, and always seemed likely to be a more challenging opponent. As such, it was surprising when Darren Mattocks won and converted a penalty just nine minutes after Burke’s opener: Jamaica was cruising at 2-0 up after 16 minutes. The rout was on.
Less surprisingly, perhaps, Suriname battled back. Donnegy Fer scrambled a goal past Jamaica ‘keeper Andre Blake in the 36th minute. The rout was off. The match stayed poised at 2-1 all the way to the final whistle.
It was not a commanding win, but a necessary one for Jamaica’s CNL Qualifying ambitions. There will be time to ponder improvements to the squad and tactics between now and the final round of the competition in March.
Lawrence heads back to the New York Red Bulls with his appearances total for Jamaica edging ever closer to his 50th cap for his country. His former clubmate, Devon “Speedy” Williams, entered the game in the 59th minute. The Louisville City midfielder and serial USL Cup winner played for NYRB II in 2015 and 2016. Both players can hope to see each other again when Jamaica calls together its squad for the March 23 conclusion to this CNL Qualifying campaign in El Salvador.