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And what about the Reggae Boyz? History awaits

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Being an American site whose readership celebrates USMNT coverage, we’ve dealt with the U.S. side of Wednesday’s Gold Cup Final in Santa Clara.

Yet the opponent is truly staring down history with little to no expectations. Jamaica enters its second-straight Gold Cup Final also hoping to put one leg in the 2021 Confederations Cup in Qatar.

[ MORE: Gold Cup Final preview ]

The Reggae Boyz are 8:1 underdogs against the United States tonight, and that figure would likely be even bolder if the U.S. was performing to its capabilities. Jamaica enters the game with red-hot Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, a half-dozen MLS players, and the rest of its roster comprised of Jamaican-based or lower-tier U.S. club players.

And as for leaving players behind, as the U.S. clearly did for this tournament, this is not a Jamaican team boasting Premier League players Wes Morgan, Adrian Mariappa, and Michael Hector.  Consider that manager Theodore Whitmore has qualified for a final with a far less impressive-looking roster than the one that fell to Mexico in 2015. That tournament roster had only six players from outside the MLS, the Premier League, and the English Football League system.

Jamaica boasted third- and fourth-place finishes in 1993 and 1998, and remains the only team from the Caribbean Football Union to make it to a final. It has a chance to become just the fourth Gold Cup winner in 14 tournaments (Mexico has seven, the USMNT five, and Canada won the 2000 tournament).

Jamaica’s ELO rating is 66th in the world. It’s FIFA ranking is 113, behind Cuba, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Haiti. Behind Antigua and Barbuda.

To win this tournament, whatever you think of the Gold Cup, would be an amazing achievement. But what Whitmore has done in calmly guiding his men to this point is already remarkable. That he’s done it like he’s been there before is even more laudable.

Costa Rica 2-2 Jamaica: Reggae Boyz earn solid draw with Los Ticos

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Maybe Jamaica’s participation in the Copa America last month in Chile will pay off this month on the other side of the equator.

The Reggae Boyz opened their 2015 Gold Cup run with a solid result against world No. 14 Costa Rica, drawing 2-2 in Carson on Wednesday night.

Roy Miller and David Ramirez scored for Costa Rica, while Garath McCleary and Jobi McAnuff netted for Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz led 1-0 and trailed 2-1.

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Jamaica lost all three of its matches at the Copa America, as Winfried Schafer charges suffered 1-0 losses to Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.

But they weren’t fazed by Costa Rica, scoring the first goal when Kemar Lawrence’s long throw bounded off the grass and over Junior Diaz, who mistimed the bounce. McCleary was in prime position to finish from close range, and Jamaica led 1-0 in the 13th minute

Los Ticos tied it up on crafty free kick play in the 33rd minute. Sending a ball in from the left, Bryan Ruiz played a low pass across the top of the 18, and Ramirez flicked it over the charging Jamaican defense for Miller to head home.

Costa Rica found a lead four minutes later. Celso Borges sent a long ball over the top of the Reggae Boyz’ defense, and Ramirez got in tight to put his first touch home.

Jamaica got a little bit of luck to help tie the score, as McAnuff’s out-of-control dribble paid off. McAnuff slapped his foot at an odd bounce, and it fooled Miller. His next touch was a fine finish, and it was 2-2.

It was Esteban Alvarado, not Keylor Navas, in goal for Costa Rica, and the 26-year-old AZ Alkmaar keeper made a strong low save to stop a cutting dribble into the 18 by Darren Mattocks.

Both teams looked capable of scoring a winner late, but neither found a way to take all three points. The 89th minute saw Alvarado explode off his line to deny a late Jamaican shot.

Jamaica next faces Canada on Saturday in Houston, while Costa Rica will play El Salvador.