Jamaica Enters CONCACAF Arms Race After Federation Targets Dual Nationals

The USMNT and Mexico are both improving, but so is Canada, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

The excitement is building towards a pair of USMNT friendlies scheduled for the end of the month with the locations of the fixtures (Austria and Northern Ireland) dictating appearances from the European-based players who’ve helped supporters move beyond the last World Cup qualifying debacle. 

There’s every reason to believe that this young U.S. squad will perform admirably come the start of the final round of this edition’s cycle, but nothing’s ever given in CONCACAF. Even the 2002 team that advanced to the quarterfinals barely made it through, and there’s still no reason to think the U.S. can win matches at Mexico’s Azteca or Costa Rica’s Estadio Nacional.

The necessary revisions to the qualifying format have placed the U.S. directly into the third and final round (along with Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras and three TBD nations), but the final result remains the same after a slog of 14 games: The top three qualify directly for Qatar; the fourth-place finisher has to navigate the inter-confederation playoffs.

A return to “normalcy” would see us pencil in Mexico (16-time qualifiers) and the USMNT (10-time qualifiers) in two of the three automatic spots (no other CONCACAF nation has qualified more than five times), but while the U.S. has made strides under Gregg Berhalter and El Tri has lost only one match since Tata Martino took charge, many other CONCACAF nations share that positive outlook ahead of this summer’s smorgasbord of international play.

The U.S. comes face to face with one of those teams on Mar. 25 — the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica.

The squad was already improving with young talent like Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey and Charleroi’s Shamar Nicholson, but the federation is now luring a number of dual internationals — including West Ham’s Michail Antonio and Southampton’s Nathan Redmond — to fuel its push for a first World Cup appearance since 1998.

With this as our inspiration, here’s a look at the potential starting XIs of the teams that could shock the world during CONCACAF qualifying, namely Jamaica, Canada and Costa Rica. 

Jamaica Potential Starting XI

Leon Bailey

Leon Bailey against the USMNT at the 2019 Gold Cup. Photo: Getty Images

GK: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)

LB: Kemar Lawrence (Anderlecht) 

CB: Liam Moore (Reading)

CB: Mason Holgate (Everton)

RB: Oniel Fisher (LA Galaxy)

CDM: Isaac Hayden (Newcastle) 

CM: Bobby Reid (Fulham) 

CM: Daniel Johnson (Preston) 

LW: Nathan Redmond (Southampton)  

ST: Michail Antonio (West Ham)

RW: Leon Baily (Bayer Leverkusen)

Notable Substitues

  • Andre Gray (Watford) 
  • Demarai Gray (Bayer Leverkusen) 
  • Kemar Roofe (Rangers)
  • Michael Hector (Fulham)
  • Shamar Nicholson (Charleroi) 
  • Greg Leigh (Aberdeen) 
  • Ravel Morrison (Free Agent) 

Canada Potential Starting XI

Alphonso Davies

Alphonso Davies in action during the Nations League. Photo: Getty Images

GK: Milan Borjan (Red Star) 

RB: Richie Laryea (Toronto FC) 

CB: Derek Cornelius (Vancouver) 

CB: Steven Vitória (Moreirense) 

LB: Sam Adekugbe (Vålerenga) 

CDM: Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC) 

CDM: Scott Arfield (Rangers) 

LW: Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) 

CAM: Jonathan David (Lille) 

RW: Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC)

ST: Cyle Larin (Beşiktaş) 

Notable Substitutes 

  • Atiba Hutchinson (Beşiktaş) 
  • Samuel Piette (Montreal) 
  • Lucas Cavallini (Vancouver)
  • Kamal Miller (Montreal) 
  • Junior Hoilett (Cardiff) 
  • Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC)

Costa Rica Potential Starting XI

Keylor Navas

The great Keylor Navas. Photo: Getty Images

GK: Keylor Navas (PSG)

LB: Francisco Calvo (Chicago) 

CB: Giancarlo González (LA Galaxy) 

CB: Óscar Duarte (Levante)  

RB: Cristian Gamboa (VfL Bochum) 

LM: Randall Leal (Nashville) 

CM: David Guzmán (Saprissa) 

CM: Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruña) 

RM: Luis Díaz (Columbus) 

ST: Felicio Brown (Wisla Krakow)  

ST: Joel Campbell (León) 

Notable Substitutes 

  • Bryan Ruiz (Alajuelense) 
  • Juan Pablo Vargas (Millonarios)
  • Kendall Waston (Saprissa) 
  • Johan Venegas (Alajuelense)
  • Ariel Lassiter (Houston)

And don’t forget that Honduras has a number of quality players too, including:

Honduras

  • Choco Lozano (Cádiz)
  • Alex López (Alajuelense)
  • Douglas Martínez (Salt Lake)
  • Denil Maldonado (Everton)
  • Jonathan Toro (Chaves)
  • Alberth Elis (Boavista)
  • Jorge Benguché (Boavista)
  • Maynor Figueroa (Houston)
  • Jerry Bengtson (Olimpia)

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