Jaguars Explain The Tough Debut In the Gold Cup Last night, every Belizean eye was glued to the television watching the game and tonight, Belizean hearts are on the mend after our national football selection was crushed by the US team, 6-1.
Looking at the circumstances objectively, it was an outcome that should have been expected, but, when it's 11 versus 11 on the field, and Belize was on the biggest stage ever, all the nation could have done was wish for a world-shocking miracle.
It didn't happen and tonight, the Belize Jaguars are in flight - headed for Salt Lake City Utah where they will play Costa Rica on Saturday. Jules Vasquez is in Portland and he spoke to the head coach before they left the Marriott Hotel in downtown Portland.
Ian Mork - Belize Team Head Coach
"It's a little bit hard to read at this moment, I think the team will come back and we'll play better in the next match but you know I also thought that we were more mentally prepared for the game but as it turned out - quite a few players weren't themselves and they weren't sharp with the ball, they weren't sharp defensively and it really made a difference in the game. I think it really comes down to their mental preparation and their confidence on the field. Right now we just have to regroup - the team is still together and I think we have to have a different game against Costa Rica."
Shane Moody Orio - Goalkeeper, Belize Team
"It's very important not to really think about what happened last night - we know what happened and we'll review the tapes and the mistakes that were made last night we can't make it anymore. Independently who is playing and who is not playing, I know all of us want the best for the team and the best for Belize. At the end of the day we're not happy because we know we let down the whole country - the whole country expected much more from us and we know that we can give much more. We're happy that we have strength and we thank God that we're still here and we still have the opportunity."
"You get on a stage like that and I think on the outside it's really easy to look and say 'oh they should run there and they should do that and this' but when you're dealing with an environment like that and t's not easy for everybody to respond to that type of environment and pressure. On the bus ride to the game - it was very serious, in the locker room before the game it was before serious. The team seemed very focus and ready to go but as the whistle blew and the game started, that wasn't the case. The looseness isn't so much the case, it's more about confidence when you're on the field. You saw we weren't even able to keep possession of the ball, we were giving away the ball so easily. We weren't even able to mark a player one to one which the guys have been doing for a few months now."
"They are trying to keep their spirits up, they know that we're at a different level now - it was obvious last night that although they were confident when the game started, it was something different. Just the electricity from the stadium and the noise, for a while for about 15 minutes the American fans - the stadium was just noisy."
Shane Moody Orio
"We hit a brick wall last night and we weren't prepared for that and now we need to rebound. Like I've said from day one, it's one country and one people and we still have the same one dream."
And the team was somewhat bouyed when it got to the hotel last night and a greeting party of Belizeans that was waiting to console them.
Actually, they were waiting to celebrate, but when there was nothing to celebrate, they invoked that favorite word in all of sports, "next!" FFB Executive Member Marlon Kuylen told us how the reception sped up the healing process after a bruising defeat:
Marlon Kuylen - FFB Executive Member
"We were happy to know that when we got here last night, tons of Belizeans fans were here waiting for the team. The applause that went off was a lot, the lobby was very noisy last night. Then the Minister of Sports showed up, also the Ambassador and his wife to Washington, Nestor Mendez, and they gave us a donation of $2,000usd, also Mr. York from Los Angeles from the Belizean Association there also came by and gave us a donation of $500usd. It was a nice feeling, although our spirits were kind of down and disappointed."
And so while that's next, we still have to talk about last night. And that was nothing nice. Yes, the Belizeans were decided underdogs - but instead they turned up on the pitch at the Jeld Wen Field as lambs to the slaughter. After the game, we spoke to all they key players about the loss.
Deon McCauley - Striker, Belize Team
"I think we played a really disorganized game today, we didn't do what we needed to do. I feel that most of the players weren't focused, I think we weren't ready for this game."
Ian Gaynair - Defender, Belize Team
"I feel bad because you know how long we haven't gotten that much goal on us - we took 6 goals. I don't know if some of the players weren't ready or they were nervous with the game. I don't think we played the kind of game that we were to play."
Shane Moody Orio - Goalkeeper, Belize Team
"I think we were overmatched in every aspect, playing in an environment like this - we need to be prepared mentally. I mean giving up a goal in the first five minutes, we weren't prepared mentally as a team."
Dalton Eiley - Team Captain
"I'm not sure if it was nervousness but we didn't do as the coach instructed us to do in the locker room. Players going out there and not doing their job."
"We just put our hands to our side and we just took our 'lick'."
Shane Moody Orio
"Disappointed but at the end of the day, if we want to play at this level - this is a professional level and we need to be serious and get our act together. I want to say on behalf of myself and the team, I would like to send an apology to the Belizean people who expected much more from us tonight and at the end of the day we hope that you continue to believe in us because we still have two more games to play."
Ian Mork - Coach for Belize Team
"They are extremely disappointed and I think they realize that we didn't perform to our potential and obviously we have an entire country that is behind us - and an entire country that had very high expectations. I think it's going to take some time to maybe meet those expectations in some ways because we're dealing with a group of top amateur players with some professionals playing against the top professional organization and top professional players in the U.S. It was a little bit overwhelming for some of them, we were hoping that mentally that they were going to be strong enough to handle the magnitude of this game and the pressure that is involved with it - we gave the ball away too easily. When you're playing against the U.S. they are going to continue to come at you and they are going punish you if you give them that many chances. It was positive that we scored a goal."
"I dreamed about the goal because my sister that passed away came to me last night and told me that I was going to score. That is why when I celebrated- I just pointed to my sister with her picture. It feels amazing to score a goal against a big country like America."
"The 2-1 was ideal but that didn't last long enough - I think things really turned for us at that moment. It was just a lack of concentration and again I think we had too many players that were not completely focused at that moment and it really turned the game around."
Shane Moody Orio
"At 2-1 I really felt that the sensation in the atmosphere is that we could have done something more but again you cannot play three minutes of football in a 90 minute football game with a professional team - a team that is in leading in the CONCACAF World Cup elimination so we need to be better and get better for our next match."
"Defensively we need to make some adjustments and make sure we're sharper. We have to regroup and we have to start to think about the next game."
"We just have to hold our heads high because we have two more games and we have to go out there and qualify."
"I know that we can play much better, we do have three games in the tournament so we're still looking to advance."
"Well right now we have to regroup and stay focus as best as we can because we have two more games left and we know that anything is still possible for Belize and we will try to bounce back from this, somehow."
Shane Moody Orio
"The unity that we have, we're still a united group and we just hope that between today and tomorrow we can sort things out and watch the game with our heads screwed on."
And as the team re-organizes itself to meet Costa Rica at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah - there's one hanging question, the condition of Captain Dalton Eiley. In the warm-up's last night he started feeling ill and had to be replaced in the starting lineup.
It was a forced, last minute substitution that some feel had a consequential effect on the defensive character of the team. We spoke to the coach and Eiley himself about it:
"He had something going on that was with his breathing - the doctor suggested that he not play. We need to get a final synopsis on what happened but the doctor recommended that he goes through some test and suggested that he didn't play so we had to make a quick decision."
"I had some chest pains and I thought it was gone but I took an injection earlier today and it felt like it went away but when I was training it came down hard so I decided to tell the coach that I couldn't continue."
And we'll have more news about the travels of the national team later on in the newscast.
Belize’s Jaguars: Then And Now Tonight, Belize’s Jaguars and football fans around the country are trying to recover from that very serious beating the team took last night from the US.
Belize took 6 goals, and for a team which is praised internationally for its world-class defense, many fans have criticized that they didn’t see it in action against those football superstars.
But, while reviewing the game, our Daniel Ortiz picked up on a few key differences in defending which the team exhibited last night, which was in stark contrast to the very same team which played in Costa Rica in January.
He pieced together this report with the help of our archives department, and here’s what he discovered:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
Before we took a closer look at last night’s performance, we went back into our archives to find a snapshot of how the team looked in the game against Nicaragua in the Copa-Centroamericana.
Everyone moved in unison, and the defenders were always a few steps ahead of the strikers from that team.
But in the game last night against USA, the defenders were not as fluid in transition, and they gave up a goal in the first 12 minutes of the game.
After that goal, the US team did not let up, and they were always able to out-number the Belizean defenders.
But, things started to deteriorate, after that, and the second goal came in a similar fashion where 2 strikers were open for an opportunity.
Yes, Wondowlowski, loaded 2 on Belize,
And after that, Ian Gaynair shocked the world and headed one in on the US.
But that celebration was short-lived because Wondowlowski came back and put another away for a quick response about 2 minutes later:
It’s difficult to say if Wondowlowski’s athletic abilities allow him to be several steps ahead of the Belizean defense, nevertheless, as the announcer said, he scored 3 back to back goals on Belize.
In the second half, the US continued to keep the pressure up, and the 4th Goal was scored on Belize,
Then the fifth, and then the 6th off a penalty shot by Landon Donovan.
It was a crushing defeat for Belize, and as a the nation watched, wincing as each goal found it’s mark, the one thing that the announcers kept focusing on was that the Belizean defence was not moving the way they should.
Opponents were left open, and they could assist their teammates to get around the defenders who were there.
That wasn’t the way things looked back in the Copa Centro-Americana when Belize lost to Honduras.
In that game, it was clearly visible how every player on the field knew their roles, and their tactics were the number one focus.
They didn’t give up any goals until the 66th minutes, and it wasn’t because the defenders were not there. The opponents had to make their own room to beat off the Belizean defence.
And even the transition from defence to offence was very smooth against Nicaragua. The ball movement was exceptional, and more importantly, the team had passing options.
And on the second goal by striker Deon McCauley, the snapshot looked very similar
But last night, of the few times Belize had an opportunity to counter attack, Deon McCauley was all alone most of the time, unable to make room because he was crowded by USA’s defence.
This was one of the few times he had assistance, and even then it wasn’t much room to work with.
Inside the Jeld Wen Stadium with the Belize Jaguars
These are snapshots taken inside the Jeld Wen Stadium in Portland, Oregon as the Jaguars of Belize took on the USA national team. It marked Belize’s debut in the Gold Cup.