Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | July 6, 2009
Home : Sport
Reggae Boyz see red over numerous yellow cards
Audley Boyd, Assistant Sports Editor


Yellow flashed brightly on Jamaica at the well-lit Home Depot Center on Friday.

However, it hasn't left a colourful impression on the Reggae Boyz, who felt hard done by some rather innocuous calls from American referee Terry Vaughn, in the opening match of the 10th CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, in Los Angeles.

"The yellow cards facing the Jamaica team is critical at this stage because we have very important players in the team who are on cards," assistant coach Bradley Stewart lamented, when asked about the situation in Columbus yesterday.

According to tournament rules, the consecutive accumulation of yellow cards will lead to an automatic one-match suspension. Additionally, players with only one yellow card in the first round will have it rescinded for the quarter-finals.

Warning for players

Five Reggae Boyz, including four of its starters, were decked with a warning by Vaughn, who appeared to have had an acute case of yellow fever as he dished out cards like they were going out of style, in a manner of Jamaican speaking.

Claude Davis, a big central defender, was yellow carded for a regulation shoulder challenge. Midfielder Jermaine Johnson, who was very outstanding, got a card for simulating a dive, when he should arguably have been awarded a penalty after clear and firm contact was made by two defenders that stopped his advance on goal at the six-yard box.

The level of officiating was embellished on that same play, when after Johnson hit the turf, one of the defenders cleared the ball. Canada were awarded the throw-in.

Both Davis and Johnson are starters, as well as striker Luton Shelton and Demar Phillips, who also saw yellow. Second half substitute, Oneil Thompson, completed the list of Jamaicans cautioned in the game that was fairly clean and hardly had stoppages.

"That will affect us if we get additional cards because two yellow cards equates to a one-match suspension," Stewart pointed out. "Hopefully, the quality of the refereeing will be a little different."

He added: "We thought that for the first match, I don't know that it's over enthusiasm or I don't want to put anything on it, but it seemed a little bit unfair and unjust when you compare our game with how the referee operated in the second game, so I am hoping that probably it was the first match and the referee wanted to make an impression in that game.

"We took the opportunity to watch the second game, El Salvador against Costa Rica, and believe it was a totally different approach by the referees," Stewart observed. "They allowed the game, they knew that football, to a large extent, is a physical game and you'll make contact."

The El Salvador-Costa Rica match, which the Salvadorans won 2-1, followed Jamaica's opening contest. A great deal of hype was exuded in the high-energy all-Central American showdown, with some rather physical challenges that did not even draw calls for a foul, as players quickly scrambled to their feet.

"We thought the calls against a decision, for example, against Claude Davis, were really out of whack with what was happening in the game. But then, you're in a tournament and you're going to run into different kinds of referees who interpret the same laws differently and you hope that the next time around they would have had their own meetings as referees and determine that what happened to us was kind of unjust and you might see a levelling of the referee situation in the next game, that's our hope," noted Stewart.

Light workout

The Jamaicans flew up from the west coast by charter to Ohio on Saturday morning and had a light workout the same evening in the gym at the Westin Coumbus hotel where they are based.

An evening training session yesterday marked an extension of their preparation for tomorrow's crucial match against Costa Rica, the opening game of a Group A double at the Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio, at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. Jamaica time).

First round preliminaries include quadrangular competition in three groups. The top two countries, plus the two best placed third-place teams, will advance to the eight-nation quarter-final phase.

Friday night's winners, El Salvador and Canada, will meet in tomorrow's second match, at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Jamaica time).

El Salvador and Canada have three points apiece and head the group on points. Jamaica and Costa Rica trail without a point, and the Boyz will no doubt be looking to move up the tables by shining brightly in yellow, again, only this time the colour of its jersey and not in the referee's book.

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