Jamaica

Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Mexico block out drama before Gold Cup semifinal vs. Jamaica

Leave a comment

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) After nearly two years as Mexico’s head coach, Juan Carlos Osorio is used to constant criticism of his tactics and lineups. He isn’t surprised by regular calls for his firing from fans, media and former national team players — and that’s just when Mexico is playing well.

“We do our best so that the players cannot feel the criticism,” Osorio said Saturday. “We try not to translate it to the players. We try to maintain the best spirit in the team.”

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Yet for all of the drama and distraction around El Tri this summer, Osorio is one win from getting a young roster with an ever-changing lineup into the CONCACAF Gold Cup final while he coaches from the stands, thanks to a FIFA suspension.

Mexico faces Jamaica on Sunday night at the Rose Bowl, El Tri‘s home away from home, for a spot in the championship game.

Osorio is already proud of his experimental roster’s Gold Cup success despite a steady drumbeat of criticism from those who don’t like the Colombian coach’s plans or his players’ execution of them. He chose a youthful group for this tournament to build Mexico’s base of experience for next year’s World Cup and the years ahead.

“Our goal is to build a team that can compete at any level,” Osorio said. “We’ve had some losses that have been very difficult, and the scars are there. But at the same time, they show that we’re strong and moving forward, and this team has won much more than it has lost. We are very motivated, and we want to continue building and growing. We want to have more players competing for a spot that can help us. We want to have a present and a future.”

Mexico has won three of the last four Gold Cups, beating Jamaica 3-1 in the 2015 final. These teams also met at the Rose Bowl 13 months ago during the Copa America, when Javier Hernandez scored an early goal in a 2-0 win.

West Ham-bound Chicharito is among several tested veterans not participating in the Gold Cup. Mexico has struggled to replace his offense, scoring half of its six goals in this tournament back in its opener.

“We are all motivated and ready to give our all for the team,” said midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro, who got the only goal in Mexico’s 1-0 quarterfinal win over Honduras. “We all want to be part of this.”

Osorio will watch from the crowd while serving the fifth game of his six-match suspension for what FIFA deemed aggressive behavior toward officials during a match against Portugal in the Confederations Cup, where Mexico finished a disappointing fourth.

[ MORE: Mexico beat Honduras, book their place in semifinals ]

Mexico and Jamaica played to a 0-0 draw 10 days ago during Gold Cup group play in Denver. El Tri dominated possession, but Mexico’s fans booed their own team after it failed to find the net behind stalwart Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Mexican fans booing their own team is nothing new, but El Tri can also count on wild support from Los Angeles’ vast Latino population.

Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore acknowledges his Reggae Boyz are underdogs, but he believes his players raise their level whenever they get the chance to wreck the plans of the U.S. or Mexico, the pre-tournament favorites.

“I think our confidence is high,” Whitmore said. “We don’t want to be overconfident going into the game. We know the Mexican team has a lot to offer. It is a team that we have to give a lot of respect, based on what they’ve been through over the years.”

Jamaica is also playing without top talent, including Wes Morgan, Giles Barnes and all of its England-based players. Darren Mattocks, the Portland forward who has excelled in the Gold Cup, also could miss the semifinal due to an injury, Whitmore said.

Jamaica showed its offensive potency last Thursday with a pair of beautiful goals in a quarterfinal victory over Canada. Whitmore plans a “totally different approach” from the defensive caution with which Jamaica played El Tri earlier in the month.

“We try to be mean in conceding goals, and that’s been working for us,” Whitmore said. “We want to be still disciplined. We want to be compact in defense, but on the other hand, I think the transition game in defense is important if we want to get past this Mexico team.”

Jamaica 2-1 Canada: Reggae Boyz reach 2nd straight Gold Cup semifinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two years after their stunning finals appearance, Jamaica is back into the Gold Cup semifinals after holding off Junior Hoilett and Canada 2-1.

Shaun Francis put Jamaica in front just five minutes into the match, as Darren Mattocks expertly cut back to the far side of the box where Francis was trailing the play, and the Montreal Impact full-back put the Reggae Boyz in front.

There was no more action until past the halftime break. Jamaica doubled its lead thanks to a superb strike by Romario Williams, who leaned back and rifled one off the hands of goalkeeper Milan Borjan and into the top corner.

Darren Mattocks got his second assist of the game on the goal with his little nudge backwards to Williams at the top of the box.

The two-goal cushion wouldn’t last long, however, as the fireworks show continued. Now, it was Canada’s turn to put on a show as Junior Hoilett stunned the crowd with a long-distance curler from even further outside the box than Williams’ just 11 minutes earlier.

That would do it for the scoring, although the show wasn’t completely over. With just 15 minutes left, Hoilett unleashed another would-be stunner, but Andre Blake matched the shot with a spectacular save, getting his fingertips to the shot to keep it out.

Blake was critical down the stretch to squelch any chances Canada had late as they pushed for an equalizer. The Reggae Boyz held on to reach the semifinal, where they will take on either Mexico or Honduras.

Ranking the Gold Cup quarterfinalists; New front-runner?

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Leave a comment

No pats on the back for correctly selecting the Gold Cup quarterfinal field — well, maybe a little pat… it was almost to a T, after all — as PST correctly tabbed the absurd 8 of 12 nations to move onto the knockout rounds.

But the United States men’s national team threw the proverbial spanner in the works when it comes to our knockout round predictions by calling up CONCACAF killer Jozy Altidore as well as Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Darlington Nagbe, and Jesse Gonzalez.

Canada improved as well, while Mexico decided to make no changes to its squad. That means you should make no mistake about it: The Yanks’ status as stuttering group stage side just turned into tournament favorites.

[ MORE: USMNT stock up, stock down ]

Canada’s draw with Costa Rica stopped our predictions from being spot-on — joking aside, it’s pretty easy to select the field — but would we make any other changes given the group stage? Let’s see.

8. El Salvador — A scrappy bunch that could’ve given the U.S. B-Team a hassle, it won’t be able to handle Altidore, Dempsey, and Bradley.

7. Honduras — Didn’t score a single goal aside from their awarded 3-0 win over French Guiana.

6. Canada — This is where the difference in win probability between sides gets razor-thin; Inexperience has us pegging the Canucks just behind their quarterfinal foes.

5. Jamaica — On the flip side of Canada, running to the 2015 Gold Cup final while knocking off the USMNT will have the Reggae Boyz feeling okay.

4. Panama — Allowed just two goals in the knockout rounds, including a relatively dominant performance against the U.S., and was the only team to shutout Kevin Parsemain and Martinique.

3. Costa Rica — Tabbed before the tournament as a possible first time winner, allowed just a single goal to Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies.

2. Mexico — El Tri is El Tri, even as a B Team, and will like avoiding Costa Rica and the U.S. until the final.

  1. USMNT — Should be able to clinch the first of two lottery chances at being CONCACAF’s representative in the 2021 Confederations Cup.

Jamaica fight back to draw El Salvador, lock up 2nd in group

AP Photo/Eric Gay
Leave a comment

Jamaica’s passage into the quarterfinals of the 2017 Gold Cup had already been secured — and it’s a good thing — a full 24 hours before their Group C finale against El Salvador, but the Reggae Boyz entered the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tex., with plenty still at stake.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USA 3-0 Nicaragua | Three things we learned ]

After falling behind to Nelson Bonilla’s opening goal in the 15th minute, Winfried Schafer’s battled, and labored, for the remaining 75 minutes.

[ REACP: USA beats Nicaragua, 3-0 ]

50 minutes would pass before the equalizer arrived, rescued on a penalty kick converted by Darren Mattocks. The draw is enough to elevate El Salvador into one of two best-place third-place slots, and secure their place in the quarterfinals, alongside Jamaica, Mexico and five other nations.

Up next for El Salvador, it’s a quarterfinal matchup with the U.S. national team on Wednesday, in Philadelphia, Penn. As for Jamaica, their next opponent will be determined by the outcome of Mexico’s finale against Curacao later on Sunday. A Mexican win or (scoring) draw would clinch top spot for El Tri, setting up Jamaica versus Canada; a Mexican loss would hand the group to Jamaica, and they would face Honduras.

FOLLOW LIVE: Mexico, Jamaica decide top spot in Gold Cup group

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

Following the two sides’ scoreless draw on Thursday, Mexico and Jamaica head into Sunday’s 2017 Gold Cup Group C finales level on four points, separated by very little in the race to finish top of the group.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Jamaica take on El Salvador in the day’s first game (6 p.m. ET), and Mexico face Curacao in the final game of the group stage, at 8:30 p.m. ET. Both games will be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tex.

The winner of Group C will face a third-place team from either Group A or B (Honduras or Martinique), while the runners-up will take on the runners-up from Group A, Canada. Both round-of-eight games will be played Thursday, in Glendale, Ariz.

Group C standings

1. Mexico — 4 points (+2 GD, 3 GF)
2. Jamaica — 4 points (+2 GD, 2 GF)
3. El Salvador — 3 points (0 GD, 3 GF)
4. Curacao — 0 points (-4 GD, 0 GF)