Off impressive finishes by each in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Canadian men’s national soccer team hosts Jamaica in an international friendly on Saturday night in Toronto.
Canada vs. Jamaica
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET Where: BMO Field, Toronto Sports Interaction Odds: Canada +146, Jamaica +182, Draw +215 Total: TBA
Canada was a slight underdog when it faced Jamaica on July 20 in Glendale, Ariz., in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup and the Reggae Boyz prevailed 2-1. Shaun Francis scored in the sixth minute for Jamaica and Romario Williams in the 50th. Team Canada made things interesting on a goal by David Junior Hoilett in the 61st minute but couldn’t beat stellar Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake again – he was named the CONCACAF Man of the Match. It was Canada’s first loss in seven overall matches this year (3-1-3).
“We dominated at times and we were in control from the beginning,” Canada coach Octavio Zambrano said after. “They held back and waited for the counterattack and they were rewarded with that first goal. In the second half, our domination was even more pronounced. I think we played the better game.”
Zambrano has named his 24-man roster for this match. He added veteran midfielders Atiba Hutchinson and Will Johnson, who both missed Les Rouges’ Gold Cup run. Hutchinson took about a year break from national team duty to focus on his professional career in Turkey. He last played for Canada in a World Cup qualifying match against El Salvador. Huthinson is a five-time Canadian Player of the Year, which is a record – he will be honored with No. 5 before this match.
Also on the roster is Alphonso Davies, who was one of the biggest stories of the Gold Cup regardless of country. At 16, he earned the Golden Boot and Best Young Player awards at the tournament. Canada’s squad features 13 players who are 24 years or younger. Toronto FC has four call-ups for this match: Jay Chapman, Raheem Edwards, Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts.
Hoilett is from Brampton and gets to play in Toronto for the first time with the national team. His family originally came from Jamaica. It’s Canada’s first home friendly since beating Curacao 2-1 in June in Montreal. Manjrekar James and Anthony Jackson-Hamel were the goalscorers in what was Zambrano’s Team Canada coaching debut.
The Reggae Boyz have four wins, two draws and four losses in 10 matches this year. They were a surprising second in the Gold Cup. After beating Canada in the quarterfinals, Jamaica shocked tournament favorite Mexico 1-0 in the semifinals. Defender Kemar Lawrence scored off a free kick in the 87th minute. Blake was incredible in net.
In the Gold Cup final, the United States beat Jamaica 2-1 on a Jordan Morris goal in the 88th minute. Jamaica had drawn even on a Je-Vaughn Watson score in the 50th minute. The Jamaicans lost Blake, who plays for the Philadelphia Union in the MLS, to a hand injury early in the match. Blake made a double save on Jozy Altidore and Kellyn Acosta in the 19th minute to keep the game scoreless but went down in obvious pain. He was still awarded the Golden Glove as the tournament’s best goalkeeper. He kept clean sheets against Curacao and Mexico in the group stage as well as another over Mexico in the semifinals.
Jamaica has played a match since the Gold Cup, winning at Trinidad & Tobago 2-1 in a friendly on Aug. 24. Reggae Boyz attacker Jamiel Hardware opened the scoring in the sixth minute, but Kevon Villaroel leveled for the Soca Warriors in the 11th. Fabian Reid scored the winner for Jamaica.
In the FIFA world rankings, Jamaica is No. 57 and Canada 95th.
Canada vs. Jamaica Predictions
It’s Team Canada’s first match at BMO Field since a 3-0 win over Belize in September 2015. It will be the 21st matchup between the Canadian and Jamaican senior national teams. Canada holds the slight edge with eight wins, six draws and six losses. It gets Gold Cup payback here with the same margin of victory: 2-1.