Uruguay 1-0 Jamaica: Reggae Boyz prove a tough test in Copa America opener

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Official notice has been given to the rest of the 2015 Copa America field: Jamaica will not be pushed around or embarrassed this summer by any of the powers that be in South America. On Saturday, the Reggae Boyz kicked off their Group B campaign and gave the defending CONMEBOL (plus special invitees) tournament champions, Uruguay, all they could handle — and more.

[ GROUP PREVIEWS: A | B | C ]

Despite splitting possession nearly even (52 to 48 in favor of Uruguay) and matching La Celeste shot for shot (12 to 11 in favor of Jamaica), the Caribbean island’s national side couldn’t find the ever-elusive goal and fell, narrowly, to the likes of Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin and Maxi Pereira, 1-0.

Shortly before halftime, Darren Mattocks had the Reggae Boyz’ best chance of the game, as the Vancouver Whitecaps striker found himself behind the Uruguay defense and running onto a bouncing through ball. Mattocks reeled in the ball near the top of Uruguay’s penalty area with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his first-time shot was badly scuffed and blocked by the recovering defender.

Uruguay broke through not long after, cracking the code of Jamaica’s very organized defense, shortly after halftime, in the 52nd minute. Nicolas Lodeiro sent a free kick into the box from the left wing and Jose Gimenez headed the ball down toward the penalty sport, where his Atletico Madrid teammate Cristian Rodriguez was waiting. Rodriguez finished calmly with his left foot, beating Duwayne Kerr for the game’s only goal.

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Uruguay currently sit atop Group B, with one of the tournament’s favorites, Argentina, still to play their opening group game later on Saturday. Jamaica, despite their more than respectable showing, have their tournament lives to play for in their next group game, versus Paraguay, on Tuesday.