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Jamaica Stakes Early Claim to Gold Cup Group B

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Jamaica sent a statement Monday night that they’re a force to be reckoned with in group B while popular favorite Honduras played to a less than stellar 0-0 draw against rival Guatemala Monday night at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.

Speed on display

Jamaica was simply too much for Grenada in their 4-0 that put them on top of group B. The Reggae Boyz were on the front foot from the outset of the match, dominating possession and peppering the Grenadian goal with chances.

Led by Dane Richards and Ryan Johnson on the night, Jamaica broke through in the 21st minute when Luton Shelton flicked in a Rudolph Austin ball into the box that came off a short corner. The first goal served as the game winner but only started the Jamaican route.

Ryan Johnson, Delmar Phillips and Omar Delay tallied for the Reggae Boyz to complete the dominating win. With their display Monday Jamaica announced that they’ll be a presence in the Gold Cup and teams must be ready to contend with the Caribbean champion’s blazing speed.

Honduras and Guatemala fight to a 0-0 draw

In the tournament’s first close match, group favorite Honduras was held to a 0-0 draw by a feisty Guatemala squad led by former Aris forward Carlos Ruiz. True to the rivalry the match resembled an American football game more than a soccer match as the rivals played to what can only be characterized as an ugly game.

The physicality culminated in two Guatemala players being sent off in the second half. Gustavo Cabrera was the first to leave the pitch after collecting two yellows on fouls on Carlos Costly and Emil Martinez.

Henry Medina joined Cabrera in the Guatemala locker room in the 79th minute after also collecting two yellow cards and being ejected. The losses left Guatemala to fend off the Hondurans for more than 10 minutes.

Despite the late advantage the Hondurans were unable to threaten much coming down the stretch. Battling injuries to Wilson Palacios, Maynor Figueroa and Emilo Izaguirre the Catratchos failed to get into a flow offensively and the game suffered for it as neither team produced many clear chances.

With Honduras struggling and Jamaica surging to a big win, the Reggae Boyz can take firm control of the group with a win over Guatemala Friday in Miami. Honduras will look to find their scoring touch against faltering Granada on the same day.

Group C opens play Tuesday night with the USA taking on Canada and Panama facing Guadeloupe in Detroit.

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com and contributes to Soccerlens.com during the Gold Cup. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.

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