Richards, Jamaica win Caribbean Championship
While the Red Bulls are in the midst of their offseason, not all their players are kicking back and relaxing. Dane Richards has had a busy month, and is fresh off leading his home country of Jamaica to the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup championship. Richards, who was enjoying an incredible spell of form as the Red Bulls season came to a close, picked up right where he left off. The speedster scored three goals in five matches as the Reggae Boyz successfully defended their 2008 crown.
Jamaica began its defense of their crown on November 27, in their opening group stage match against Antigua and Barbuda. Richards and the Reggae Boyz came out flying, scoring three times in the first 40 minutes, with Richards providing the third, as Jamaica held on for a 3-1 win. In their next group stage match two days later, Jamaica blanked Guadeloupe by a 2-0 count, and it was Richards’ cross that was met by the head of Columbus Crew defender Shaun Francis in the 53rd minute. The win clinched a berth for Jamaica in the semifinals, but for good measure, the Reggae Boyz thumped Guyana 4-0 in its final group stage match. Once again it was Richards who provided the impetus, needing only two minutes to notch the game winning goal.
On Saturday, Jamaica took on Grenada in the semifinals, and Richards was voted Man of the Match. The Red Bulls midfielder set the tone for the match, collecting a Ryan Johnson pass behind the Grenada defense, and finishing the chance just seven minutes in. The game wasn’t easy though, as a scrappy Grenada side leveled the match in the 13th minute, and eventually forced extra time. The favorites, however, were able to fend off a stern challenge and Troy Simmons’ goal six minutes into extra time sealed Jamaica’s place in the finals.
Jamaica made it two Digicel Caribbean Cup Championships in a row yesterday, defeating Guadeloupe in a thrilling final that went to penalty kicks. MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids forward Omar Cummings put Jamaica on top in the 32nd minute, but Guadeloupe equalized just four minutes later. The match remained deadlocked for the rest of the 90 minutes and extra time, with the championship being decided from the spot. The Reggae Boyz connected on all five of their takes, coming away 5-4 victors in the shootout, and winners of the competition for the second straight time. Richards’ three goals were tops in the tournament’s Final Stage, making him the co-recipient of the tournament’s Golden Boot award. The Red Bulls midfielder has proved he is one of the most dynamic attacking players in North America, both on the club and international stage.
Two former Red Bulls players also featured in the competition, both for Puerto Rico. Goalkeeper Terry Boss and forward Chris Megaloudis helped their country reach Group E.