DENVER — Here are three quick thoughts from Mexico’s 0-0 draw with Jamaica in Group C of the Gold Cup on Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
1. Mexico’s weakness exposed
Mexico fans who paid good money to see El Tri in Denver started to leave with more than 10 minutes left. Cries of “Osorio out” rained down from the stands. There is a growing section of Mexico’s fan base that is not happy with coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who made four changes from the 3-1 win over El Salvador and who watched the game from a private box as he served the second of a six-game ban.
There was little to shout about from the Mexican perspective. This was not a good night for El Tri and one that highlighted a lack of inventiveness up front, problems in chemistry in this B squad and a lack of intensity against a Jamaican side that is very happy with a point.
El Tri dominated the game. Jamaica had no shots on target and only 28 percent of possession. Mexico goalkeeper Moises Munoz barely touched the ball. There were frequent fouls from the Reggae Boyz to disrupt Mexico’s rhythm, but none of that should be an excuse.
Mexico simply has to do better. It wasn’t even as if there was a siege on the Jamaican goal as the minutes were running out. El Tri couldn’t find an answer against a team with limited quality and even more limited attacking ambition.
The result leaves Mexico still in first position in Group C on four points, with Jamaica behind on goals scored, with El Salvador on three points just behind.
But while Mexico might still be easing to a quarterfinal in Phoenix next week, the pressure on Osorio will once again be felt, even if this is far from El Tri‘s best team. This Gold Cup is once again proving complicated for supposed bigger nations.
2. “Cubo” fails to take his chance
Houston Dynamo’s Erick “Cubo” Torres thought his moment had come in the 23rd minute. The former Chivas striker glanced an in-swinging cross toward goal. The fans stood to applaud, and Torres readied himself to celebrate, but the ball ricocheted off the inside of the post and out into the penalty box, from where it was cleared.
This was Torres’ first official game for the Mexican national team, and it’ll go down as a missed opportunity. “Cubo” had been given the start ahead of Angel Sepulveda and Martin Barragan, despite having been called into the Mexico squad at the last minute due to a shoulder injury to Alan Pulido.
Torres made some decent runs in the first half and looked lively, though he appeared overly eager, shooting form the edge of the box in the 18th minute when a pass wide to Orbelin Pineda was on.
After the break, Torres was quiet, smothered by the Jamaican defense and let down by teammates who struggled to create and provide him with real opportunities.
3. Jamaica provide blueprint to blunt toothless Mexico
This Jamaica squad is made up of one European-based player, 12 playing in the U.S. and 10 from the Jamaican league. It is arguable that none has the quality to be a regular for a side in Mexico’s top division.
Overall, Jamaica weren’t exactly inspiring, and the lack of precision in the team’s passing was notable, but it was all too easy for the Reggae Boyz to sit back and soak up El Tri‘s possession. And the organization should be praised.
Sure, Mexico had a couple of decent chances before the break, but it wasn’t like Jamaica were buckling under waves of attacks. The Caribbean side looked relatively comfortable in defense, though woefully lacking at constructing the kind of attacks that could’ve caused Mexico’s less-than-rapid center-back pairing of Hedgardo Marin and Hugo Ayala some trouble.
There were one or two moments of promise for the Jamaica side, when Darren Mattocks or Oniel Fisher was running at Mexico’s defense, but the difference in quality was evident, even if that wasn’t reflected in the scoreline.
At halftime, assistant coach Pompilio Paez introduced debutant Cesar Montes for the lackluster Rodolfo Pizarro. That left Mexico playing a back four made up exclusively of center-backs — Marin, Ayala, Montes and Edson Alvarez — and one strictly holding midfield in Jesus Molina.
Questions will be asked about whether Osorio and his coaching staff give too much respect to the opposition or if employing five physically more dominant players is necessary for Mexico against an athletic Jamaica. Why attacking full-backs such as Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez and Luis Reyes were not used is difficult to comprehend.
In the end, it created a stalemate, and Mexico couldn’t get through Jamaica’s organized back line.
Mexico simply has to find more creativity and intensity. Teams that possess greater quality going forward will punish El Tri if not.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.