Kemar Lawrence (left): “No expected this. No one expected us to be in the lead in the group.” Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
By Michael Lewis
PASADENA, Calif. — Two years ago, Kemar Lawrence was a member of the history-making Reggae Boyz side that reached the CONCACAF Gold Cup final for the first time.
This year, Jamaica has qualified for the semifinals. Yet, this team’s accomplishments might make everything sweeter.
The Caribbean side wasn’t expected to make it this far as it meets Mexico in a rematch of the 2015 championship game at the Rose Bowl Sunday night.
“It’s definitely feeling better,” the Red Bulls left back said. “We’re enjoying it a lot more but right now we know there’s a lot more to do. We have two tough games ahead of us, Hopefully, the final after the semifinals. We have a big game ahead of us in the semifinals. Mentally, we’re just humbled. We’re just trying to stay tuned in and ready for the semifinals now.”
The Jamaica team that lost to Mexico in the 2015 final was a more experienced side. This version of the Boyz is younger and a mixture of young and old.
“I think you see this is a completely different team,” Lawrence said. “No expected this. No one expected us to be in the lead in the group. For this, you have to say all praises must be to God because we’re a team that firmly believes in God. And everything we do, we pray about it first then we try to go on the field and play that way.
“Then you have a coaching staff that try their best each and every practice, make sure everything is right, make sure that we understand everything that they want from us. Then it falls on each individual out there and the way the guys respond to the coaching staff and the things that the coaches put out there, it’s just awesome.”
Playing a focused, defensive game that relies on a quick counterattack thanks to the players’ fleet feet, the Jamaicans have allowed only two goals in four games.
“Our defensive line has been solid,” Lawrence said. “Two goals have been scored against us. We haven’t really given anything away.”