Canada defeats Jamaica in Gold Cup opener
Canada is off to a perfect start at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, defeating Jamaica 1-0 on Friday in Carson, Calif.
Toronto FC's Ali Gerba scored the winner for the Canadians in the 75th minute.
"When you're a forward, the more you score, the more your confidence gets boosted," Gerba said.
That confidence should be sky-high right now for Gerba, who has three goals in his last two matches for Canada and five career Gold Cup goals, tying Carlo Corazzin for the national record in the tournament.
Gerba, 27, who was acquired by Toronto FC on June 23, has scored 14 goals for Canada in the last 25 games.
"The guys read the game very well," Gerba said. "With experience and the quality of players I have around me, it's pretty easy [to score]."
On a three-man break, Mike Klukowski sent a cross from the left side that Gerba volleyed into the left side of the net past Jamaican keeper Donovan Ricketts.
"It was a fantastic finish," Canada interim coach Stephen Hart said. "I actually saw Ali peeling away and I though he was going to bring [the ball] down. I'm glad he didn't."
The teams were evenly matched throughout the game. Possession was spread out evenly, though Canada held the slight edge in shots (6-5).
There was a spell in the second half when Jamaica pressed, but Canadian keeper Greg Sutton held firm. The Reggae Boyz had eight corner kicks while Canada only had three. The victory is a big boost to Canada's chances of advancing past the group stage of the competition.
Drawn into Group A, the tournament's "Group of Death," the Canadians needed a win against Jamaica to set themselves up well heading into tough games against El Salvador and Costa Rica.
Measure of revenge
The victory was a measure of revenge for Canada, too. The Jamaicans defeated the Canadians 3-0 the last time the two sides met, a World Cup qualifier in November. Both teams are eliminated from World Cup 2010.
El Salvador upset Costa Rica 2-1 later Friday, as William Romero scored his second of the match on the 87th minute to give his side the victory.
The Canadians play El Salvador in their next match on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio, with first place on the line.
Both sides had a couple chances to open the scoring in the first half, with Canada earning the best scoring chance of the first 45 minutes.
Patrice Bernier played a great one-two with Julián De Guzman and found himself free in close on Ricketts, but the keeper dove and just got his fingers on the shot to parry the ball wide of the right post.
Pace quickens in 2nd half
Two more chances went by the wayside right after the re-start for the Canadians, and afterwards Jamaica began to press.
Sutton made a big save on the 54th minute off Luton Shelton, who fired a shot from the right side of the box that the Canadian keeper had to dive at. He was called on again in to make a crucial stop when Stoke forward Ricardo Fuller was sent through the Canada defence in the 63rd minute.
"I had to be ready for the shot," Sutton said of Fuller's breakaway. "Luckily, I thought I was in the right position and I was able to grab the rebound, as well."
After the Jamaican flurry, Canada found the breakthrough in the 75th minute with Gerba's one-touch volley into the back of the net.
With files from The Canadian Press