Despite the fact that Mexico is currently without its suspended manager Juan Carlos Osorio, El Tri has been able to avoid a poor start to the Gold Cup.
On Sunday, Mexico kicked off its journey with a 3-1 win over El Salvador in San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. Thanks to a thrilling performance from Elias Hernandez, who finished with a goal and two assists, the CONCACAF giants were able to collect three much-needed points in their tournament opener.
That said, the win didn’t arrive without a few scares along the way.
Defensively, El Tri once again struggled. Although the scoreline appeared to highlight a straightforward victory for Mexico, El Salvador was perhaps unlucky to not score a second goal during the loss. In net, Mexican goalkeeper Jose de Jesus was also able to help cover up a handful of backline issues through a few crucial saves.
Looking forward to Thursday’s match against Jamaica, these problems must be fixed in order to secure a win over the Caribbean side. Although Jamaica doesn’t have the most imposing roster, it wouldn’t be that surprising if this game turned out to be the most difficult for El Tri in the group stage.
For today’s preview, we here at Soccer Nation are thrilled to include Caribbean soccer expert, Nathan Carr. Along with the usual thoughts and predictions for Mexico, we will also have a few from Carr as well.
Key to success for El Tri
Hernandez: As mentioned beforehand, it’s all about tightening up the defense. When looking at the Jamaican roster, it’s clear that there are a few players that will be more threatening than El Salvador when it comes to the attack. Mexico fans should hope that Osorio is taking plenty of time to prepare the squad for counters.
Key to success for Jamaica
Carr: Starting the match well, keeping concentration for full 90, taking chances when they come.
Mexican player to watch — Erick “Cubo” Torres
Hernandez: Whether it be as a starter or second half substitute, there’s a very good chance that Torres will garner minutes on Thursday. Keeping in mind that he has been brilliant in MLS with 12 goals and two assists in 18 games, the 24-year-old will easily be a player to keep an eye on.
The Houston Dynamo star also has something to prove for the national team. A strong performance on Thursday may not only help him gain a starting role in the Gold Cup, but also keep him in the conversation for the World Cup roster next summer.
Jamaican player to watch — Romario Williams
Carr: Williams cannot stop scoring at the moment. 14 goals in 15 games for his club Charleston Battery in the USL and scored his first senior Jamaican goal vs Curacao. Also look out for Owayne Gordon, explosive right-footed winger who likes to dribble with the ball and get crosses in.
Also Darren Mattocks can be a player to watch, as well. MLS fans will already know about him and his blistering speed, although he usually needs 1-2 chances to score before he puts ball in the back of the net.
Hernandez: I’ll go with a 1-0 win for Mexico. It’s going to be a tough and tight match for El Tri, but Osorio’s men should be able to leave the clash with a narrow victory.
Carr: Going with my head over heart, and predicting a Mexican victory. Mexico 2-1 or 3-1.
Predicted starting XI for Mexico
Hernandez: I’ll go with a 4-3-3 for El Tri. Moises Muñoz in net, Luis Rodriguez at RB, Cesar Montes and Hedgardo Marin as the CBs, Luis Reyes at LB, Jesus Molina as the DM, Erick Gutierrez and Jesus Dueñas as the two attack-minded midfielders, Rodolfo Pizarro on the left wing, Elias Hernandez on the right wing and finally Torres as the lone striker.
Dueñas might drop back as a DM every now and then, providing space for Gutierrez to take charge through the middle. I also wouldn’t be surprised if a name like Orbelin Pineda got the start for Mexico, especially after his impressive match against El Salvador.
Predicted starting XI for Jamaica
Carr: I don’t think personnel will change too drastically. Blake to captain in goal, Powell at RB, Lawrence at LB, Lowe and Taylor at CB. Watson and Lambert in CM, Fisher and Gordon out wide. Mattocks did make an impact coming off the bench last weekend so he might start this time. Possibly Mattocks in for Johnson, as Williams is likely to retain his spot up front.