It appears to have been a strike ordained by God and delivered by a “Taxi”, but missed by Mexico goalkeeper, Jesus Corona.
That’s HVFC international player’s, Kemar Lawrence’s, explanation of his exquisite 88th minute free-kick which eliminated defending champions Mexico 1-0 from the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Tournament semi-final here inside the Rose Bowl in front of 42,393 spectators on Sunday night.
Lawrence, popularly known as “Taxi”, had walked away from the spotted ball after a brief conference by a number of his teammates when Michael Binns had been tripped up by Mexican captain Hugo Ayala about 25 yards from goal.
It was agreed by the group for Binns, known as a freekick specialist, to strike the ball, but after everything was in place, up stepped “Taxi” to reopen a one-on-one meeting with Binns, triggering outrage from the Mexicans, who sought the intervention of Panamanian referee John Pitti. But the New York Red Bull defender deliberately re-spotted the ball, composed himself for a few seconds before executing a sumptuous delivery over the wall and under the crossbar to spark jubilation from his teammates, and sorrow from the Mexicans.
He then ordered calm from his celebrating teammates who had rushed in to congratulate him, and he thanked his God by pointing skywards with a raised head, while also paying homage to his deceased grandmother.
It was all emotional for the former Harbour View defender, who was very close to his late grandmother.
“As a team at a moment like that more than one person felt confident to take it, so it was just a discussion about who should take it, so I walked off as we gave it to Binns and told him that he’s the one that is going to take it, so I walked off, looked at the angle and God kind of said, ‘Kemar this one is for you’, so I said to Binns let me hit this one to see if I can go around the wall, and he agreed — a good teammate — and as you see I kind of took a while to kick it as I was just thinking about grandma and about the places God continues to take me.
“Before I kicked it I said, ‘Jesus this one is all about you’… hit it perfectly and left the keeper standing,” Lawrence, the son of former outstanding Jamaican National Senior goalkeeper Orville Edwards, said.
He added: “A big win right when we needed it and the right timing too, and the first thing I did was to look back at the clock to see how much time was left because I knew from thereon it was all about defending.
“Great win, great team win,” he stressed.
Asked to explain his subdued celebration, he said: “I’m not big on celebrating if you see me in the past scoring goals, but at that time I was just reflecting… honestly at that time I just wanted to cry because the first thought that came to mind was grandma, but then I started thinking like 88 minutes… we have to defend, so I was just trying to calm down the guys and tell them that we have a goal to defend, so let’s get back and get the job done.”
The Mexicans enjoyed the better exchanges, particularly in the first half and goalkeeping captain Andre Blake had to be at his best, as he had been all tournament, to keep his team in the game with a number of saves.
But as the second half progressed, the Reggae Boyz grew in confidence and launched a number of attacks of their own, and it was no surprise when they hit the winning goal.
“Tough game, we knew what we had to do, we knew what we wanted to do and I think we did that in a correct way and we wanted to frustrate them, we wanted to make them miserable out there and not giving them any chances,” said Lawrence.
“A couple of times a couple crosses got by us and Blake came up with couple huge saves, but apart from that we knew what they were doing and that was just trying to get it out wide and whip it in. A couple of times we got mixed up with our organisation, but we knew what they had to offer,” he added.
As a result of Sunday’s win, the Reggae Boyz have now advanced to Wednesday’s final at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, also here in California, where they will face the hosts, the USA, who had beaten Costa Rica 2-0 on Saturday. Match time will be 6:30 pm (8:30 pm Jamaica time).
It is the second consecutive final appearance for the Boyz, who lost 1-3 to Mexico in the 2015 edition at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Lawrence was a part of that historic team, and he says he doesn’t want to repeat that most hurtful feeling again, and he is quite unsure which of these two experiences is more enjoyable.
“I can’t really say, sometimes God brings you through different moments for different reasons, because 2015 was a disappointing year for me because it’s always hard to go to a final and lose and that memory sticks with you.
“But we have an opportunity as a team and as a country, as we have been saying in the locker room and behind closed doors, just to rewrite history to do something that no Jamaican team has ever done, especially with the crop of players that we have, so I’m not sure if I’m really enjoying any of them because for me right now I’m trying to tell the guys it’s on to the next one because I know what it feels like to go to a final and lose,” said the New York Red Bulls man.
Source: The Jamaica Observer