It was not the result Mexico were looking for in their second match of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. And thanks to the disappointing final score few will remember that Mexico played some of its best football under Colombian manager Juan Carlos Osorio. El Tri tried and tried for 90 minutes but were unable to break down the Jamaican defense that has earned a second consecutive shutout in the Gold Cup.
Mexico started playing like a cohesive unit for the first time in the Osorio era. The defensive back-line and the defensive midfielders stayed compact whenever Jamaica tried to break out in counterattacks. Orbelin Pineda, who came on as second half substitute in the first game against El Salvador, earned a spot in the starting lineup. Whenever he took a hold of the ball he looked to dribble defender trying to create goal-scoring opportunities. Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres was also given the start in this second match and made some interesting runs in the middle of the box. The Dynamo striker had a glancing header bounce off the far post that was inches away from giving El Tri the lead.
But the good football only lasted 45 minutes.
The team became undone in the second half with some of the substitutes that Osorio and/or acting manager Luis Pompilio Peaz sent. Attacking midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro was subbed out at halftime, he wasn’t having a good game due to the fact he was played out of position but his replacement was a central defender making his senior National Team debut Cesar Montes. When the team needed a boost at the top, they got a rookie defender.
Osorio/Pompilio tried to correct the mistake of the first substitution by taking off defensive midfielder Jesus Dueñas for an attacking midfielder in Martin Barragan. And then taking off Elias Hernandez, who could not replicate the magic from the first match, and bringing in Erick Gutierrez. But neither Barragan nor Gutierrez were able to find the rhythm of the match and make an impact.
“It is very frustrating not to be able to give our fans the win and (not have) secured our qualification to the next round,” said acting manager Luis Pompilio Paez in the post-game news conference. “We’ll have to analyze why things played out the way they did.”
With the 0-0 draw both Mexico and Jamaica now have four points and a +2 goal difference with Mexico at the top with one more goal scored than Jamaica. In third place of Group C is El Salvador with three points who defeated Curucao 2-0 in the first game of the Thursday evening doubleheader.
All four teams now head to San Antonio, Texas where on Sunday they’ll play the final group stage match. El Salvador and Jamaica will battle a direct ticket into the next round while Mexico will face Curucao.