KEMAR LAWRENCE, the resilient defender who has helped steer Jamaica to a third successive CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final and last month hit out at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), will no doubt be one of the players giving head coach Theodore Whitmore some worries.
The 26-year-old claimed ahead of the Reggae Boyz’ 1-0 friendly success over the US that “ongoing issues with the JFF” had led him to consider quitting before the Gold Cup.
But Whitmore’s troops tackle the United States again in a semi-final showdown of great importance on Thursday, where they will be aiming to make it a hat-trick of Gold Cup finals on the bounce.
The New York Red Bulls influential full back took a shot at the JFF during an interview with popular Jamaica radio show Hitz 92 FM’s Sports Griill last month.
He launched a scathing criticism against the JFF, stating that there was unrest in the squad regarding pay, accommodation and travel.
The Boyz had a showdown with the JFF about this trio of issues following their 3-2 success over Honduras in Kingston in their Gold Cup opening match on 17 June.
But with obvious frustration having boiled over within the squad, Whitmore was forced to shuffle his pack for the El Salvador contest. The result was a dull scoreless draw with a number of players unable to raise their game.
Jamaica’s matches against Curaçao (1-1) and Panama (1-0) have lacked any panache with no real fire in their belly, simply producing insipid displays. Despite these lacklustre performances the Boyz find themselves back in the familiar territory of reaching the last four at the Gold Cup without turning on the style.
The US are also yet to show their best under head coach Gregg Berhalter, who has opted for two different starting line-ups throughout the tournament.
But the unsettled reigning champions must up their game in Nashville if they want to see off Jamaica.
The Boyz have become a bogey team for the US in recent years, which includes the shock 2015 Gold Cup semi-final win in Georgia Dome and their slender success at Washington D.C. in June.
Whether the Boyz will be firing on all cylinders for the first time in this year’s Gold Cup remains to be seen.
As robust as they are, there are cracks showing with Whitmore forced to utilise his squad in order to find those who will give their all. And now the head coach needs his Boyz to become men for their next clash.