The nightmare continues for El Tri. Mexico has been eliminated from the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the semifinal round by falling 1-0 to Jamaica on Sunday evening at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA. Kemar Lawrence’s free kick shot into the corner of the goal in the 88th minute was the difference maker to give the Caribbean side the win over Mexico.
The still reigning CONCACAF Gold Cup champion Mexico tried and tried all game long to get the goal that could send the team to the Final but the Jamaican defense stood its ground firmly. Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake made numerous key saves to keep his team in the game and hunting a shocking goal which came in late in the game.
Blake first made his presence felt on a double save after a Jesus Dueñas shot. The rebound fell to Erick Torres, he too had his shot blocked by Blake. Torres nearly scored minutes later after a near perfect cross from Elias Hernandez but Blake once again denied the Houston Dynamo striker.
Second half substitute Jesus Gallardo blasted a free kick shot. Blake stood his ground and punched the ball away from his goal.
Manager Juan Carlos Osorio was expecting Jamaica to sit back and take a ‘park-the-bus’ game plan similar to the group stage match in Denver that ended 0-0. And while Jamaica did prioritize their defensive responsibility they maintained a constant attacking threat through counter attacks. Mexico did not expect this posture from Jamaica and sent a three man defensive line.
The Jamaican counters very accessible through Mexico’s left wing where there was little cover. Orbelin Pineda and Erick Gutierrez who were the attacking players on the left side were needed to track back and contribute defensively. Unfortunately for Mexico, neither Pineda nor Gutierrez knew exactly who was suppose to track back. El Tri management was forced to fix this tactical mistake in the second half by subbing out Gutierrez and bringing in Gallardo to play as left-back.
But the Jamaica count was still a force to be reckoned with. A counter led to a foul just outside of the Mexico penalty box. Free kicks had already produced dangerous plays for Jamaica. Lawrence stepped up and curled the ball into the top corner leaving the Mexican goalkeeper Jesus Corona standing and watching the ball sail into the net.
Mexico will now head home where the players will now focus on the local domestic league which got under way this weekend. El Tri now adds this 2017 Gold Cup to the list of disappointing tournaments along with the 2016 Copa America Centenario and 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Acting Mexico manager Luis Pompilio Paez was asked about Mexico’s disappointing summer tournaments in the post game news conference. Pompilio answered with a very direct; “This coaching staff was hired with one specific mission, to get Mexico to the World Cup. We are in first place of Qualification needing only three points from the last four matches.”