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Monday, June 6, 2011
GOLD CUP: Day 2 recap

By Scott French

Jamaica met expectations but Honduras couldn't, even with a two-man advantage for a good 15 minutes, as the CONCACAF Gold Cup opened Group B play Monday night at Home Depot Center.


The Reggae Boyz hammered Grenada, 4-0, and could have had several more goals in a simple exercise that gave them command of the group heading into encounters with the Central Americans.

Guatemala, which lost two players in the second half to second yellow cards, thrilled most in a crowd of 21,507 by holding off World Cup finalists Honduras in a 0-0 draw.

A quick look at the second day of group play in the region's nations championship:

CARIBBEAN CLUBBING: On the eve of the Group B openers, New York Red Bulls winger Dane Richards said Jamaica was “thinking we're going to play Spain tomorrow. That's how we're looking at the Grenada team.”

The Reggae Boyz weren't nearly as sharp as they'll need to be when they come up against the bigger boys in the tournament, but if either team was carrying the World Cup champs' mantle, it was Jamaica.

Ryan Johnson scored three goals, but only one of them counted as the Jamaicans dominated their Caribbean rival, running up a 23-2 advantage on shots and making Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts' evening most uneventful.

Johnson tallied in the 39th minute, finishing Richards' feed from a Luton Shelton through ball to give the Reggae Boyz a two-goal edge that stood until Demar Phillips and, with a stunning blast to the upper-left corner, Omar Daley scored five minutes apart near the end.

Johnson, with his San Jose Earthquakes coach, former Galaxy boss Frank Yallop, watching from the press box, should have received credit for two goals but not three. His blast off the crossbar 77th minute landed inside the goal before bouncing out but wasn't awarded. He was flagged offside, fairly, as he scored another in the 82nd.

A TIE IS A WIN: The tournament's first three games produced 15 goals -- OK, only 14 of them counted -- in one-sided romps. Nobody hit the net in game No. 4, easily the best of the quartet.

A tactical battle that featured few outright scoring opportunities but plenty of action in front of an electric crowd waving one blue and white flag or another was celebrated as a victory by those cheering on the Chapines, an estimated 65 percent of the gathering.

They lost Gustavo Cabrera to his second yellow card in the 61st minute and Henry Medina to his second in the 79th, then held on as Honduras applied heavy pressure deep into stoppage time.

The Catrachos, heavily favored, lacked movement in attack and tried to unlock Guatemala's bunker defense with repeated long balls that failed to trouble goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez, who was outstanding.

“It feels like a tie -- it doesn't feel like a loss,” said Honduras manager Luis Fernando Suarez, to whom it should have felt like a loss. “Sometimes you win games, and sometimes you lose games. The way we played, we definitely didn't deserve to win, but we didn't deserve to lose either.”

Best chance: Oscar Boniek Garcia's 22-yard dipping shot off the crossbar for Honduras in the 33rd minute.

DAY 3 HIGHLIGHT: The Americans begin their trek toward, they hope, the June 25 final at the Rose Bowl, taking on Canada in Detroit.

MONDAY
Group B (at Home Depot Center, Carson)

Jamaica 4 (Shelton 21, R. Johnson 39, Phillips 79, O. Daley 84), Grenada 0
Honduras 0, Guatemala 0
Att.: 21,507.

TUESDAY
Group C (at Ford Field, Detroit)
Panama vs. Guadeloupe, 3 p.m. TV: Galavision
United States vs. Canada, 5 p.m. TV: Fox Soccer Channel and TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)