Jamaica Advances to 2017 Gold Cup Semifinal with 2-1 Win over Canada

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2017

Jamaica's Romario Williams (L) celebrates with Damion Lowe after he scored a goal against Canada during their quarter final game in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup at the University of Phoenix Stadium  in Glendale, Arizona on July 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
ROBYN BECK/Getty Images

Jamaica qualified for its second straight Gold Cup semifinal Thursday night with a 2-1 win over Canada at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, thanks to Romario Williams' 50th-minute strike.

The goal, which was captured by Fox Soccer on Twitter, put Jamaica up 2-0 and gave it the breathing room necessary to withstand a fierce late charge from Les Rouges. 

Canada controlled the majority of possession in the first half (63 percent), but its work in the attacking third proved careless at times. 

Despite outshooting Jamaica 9-4 over the opening 45 minutes, Canada managed one shot on goal and committed a slew of unforced errors that resulted in transition opportunities and breakouts for the Reggae Boyz. 

Canada was also in trouble because it was forced to play from behind after Shaun Francis capitalized on a Darren Mattocks cross at the top of the box and propelled Jamaica in front just six minutes into regulation, as Fox Soccer documented on Twitter: 

Mattocks had a chance to double Jamaica's lead 10 minutes later when he slipped behind the Canadian defense, but goalkeeper Milan Borjan stood tall and made a one-on-one save to keep the deficit at a single goal.  

ESPN FC's Tom Marshall provided a concise breakdown of the early action: 

It wasn't long before Williams doubled Jamaica's lead, but the final 30 minutes proved to be a nervy affair for the Reggae Boyz as Canada ramped up its attacking pressure. 

The highlight of that second-half resurgence was a 62nd-minute wonder-strike from Junior Hoilett, who curled one into the right side of the net past Andre Blake to trim Jamaica's lead in half. 

Hoilett thumped another one from distance in the 72nd, but Blake stood tall and came up with a huge diving save to keep his side in control. 

The reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year was instrumental in propelling Jamaica back to the semis, and he will need to come up with another clutch performance if the Reggae Boyz want to work their way back to the championship stage after doing so in 2015. 

Jamaica will meet either Mexico or Honduras on Sunday night, with a spot in the final on the line.