In the Box: Reggae Boyz

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There was a feel of Caribbean vibrations this past Tuesday night at Strake Jesuit Preparatory School where the "Reggae Boyz" of Jamaica conducted their first training session since arriving in Houston.

Jamaica, who have already advanced after a 4-3 victory over Guatemala and a 3-3 tie with South Africa, are heading into tomorrow's showdown with Mexico with an air of confidence.

Who would have thought it would be Jamaica already advanced going into a match that Mexico must tie or win to advance?

"It will be a good measuring stick for us. We have a few young guys who haven't played against Mexico, it's good to see how we rank against the number one team in CONCACAF," said midfielder Andy Williams, who plays in MLS for Real Salt Lake.

Jamaica, who were eliminated in World Cup qualifying, will not be going to Germany in 2006 thus elevating the importance of the Gold Cup as the national program continues to bring in younger players as they build for the future.

Domestic based players like Jermaine Hue who has scored in both matches and Luton Shelton who play at Harbour View represent the future of Jamaica's national team and in the Gold Cup have combined with veterans like Ricardo Fuller (Portsmouth) and Andy Williams.

In fact the overseas veterans in the squad have been very impressed with the recent additions of Jamaican based players giving optimism for the future for head coach Wendell Downswell.

Performances from young talents like Hue and Shelton have been inspirational to young players back in Jamaica who have dreams of putting on the national team jersey of Jamaica.

"The young players have inspired. This (Gold Cup) is an excellent platform to measure where we are," says Downswell. "Mexico is one of the top footballing countries in the world."

Jamaica has scored seven goals in their first two games and have electrified fans with their attacking play.

"We have been getting a lot of opportunities," said Andy Williams. "Luton Shelton and Ricardo Fuller have been creating havoc up front, their fast, and strong. Jermaine Hue is a gifted midfielder."

Conceding six goals in two games reminds us of the unpredictability at times of Jamaica at the international level.

"We are very concerned about the number of goals we have been conceding," says Downswell. "It is individual mistakes that have hurt us, we have got to go back to basic defending."

With Mexico coming off a 4-0 victory over Guatemala expect some goals to reign at Reliant Stadium this Wednesday night.

Jamaica will have the huge challenge of trying to shut down red hot striker Jared Borgetti who also captains Mexico.

They just might take a page out of South Africa's book from their opening 2-1 victory over Mexico.

The "Bafana Bafana" caused Mexico some problems with a solid defensive effort and stung the "kings of Concacaf " on the counter attack looking dangerous throughout the game.

"It's going to be tough," says Williams. "They have to win or tie but hopefully surprise them."

Surprises are something that Jamaica will definitely bring to Reliant Stadium this Wednesday.

Davis is a nationally recognized broadcaster for HDNET where he partners up with former U.S. National Team defender Marcelo Balboa. He was one of the lead voices for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and has called major international soccer matches for the Fox Network as well.  He is a weekly columnist for the Houston Chronicle and hosts the "Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" radio show on ESPN 790 AM every Sunday from 5-6 pm.  Davis played soccer professionally for the Houston Dynamos where he was a league all star selection and team captain.

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