At the Rose Bowl, it had seemed that Mexico’s Gold Cup battle against Jamaica might go to added extra time and penalties, but three minutes from the end of the 90, Kemar Lawrence guided a free kick past Jesus Corona to knock Mexico out of the 2017 Gold Cup.
Mexico had hoped to generate goalscoring chances off the ball possession they had enjoyed for most of the match. But in the opening half, the really good chances came few and far between. That was until Mexico adjusted their approach from wide areas to be less predictable. And in the game’s 25th minute, Elias Hernandez, often the protagonist for El Tri, found Erick Torres completely unmarked inside the area, but the Houston Dynamo striker could only aim his strike directly at Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.
As the match proceeded, even as Erick Gutierrez, Orbelin Pineda, and others tried to create chances off their possession, there was a sense that the Reggae Boys were becoming protagonists in the match. And in the 56th minute, a Jamaica counterattack eventually resulted in a pass to Ricardo Morris into a 1v1 on Jesus Corona. But the Mexico goalkeeper was attentive to Morris’s shot.
Mexico had a chance in the 64th minute on a free kick from 20 meters away, but Jesus Gallardo sent his direct attempt on goal straight at Andre Blake once more.
Frustrated at the lack of chances, Mexico continued to try to play the patient game. But by the 85th minute, Jamaica had asserted themselves as the more direct, malicious team in their attack. And a hard foul by Hugo Ayala on Michael Binns just outside the penalty area set up Jamaica’s match-winning goal.
Then, in the 87th minute, Kemar Lawrence’s rising, curling free kick found the net before Jesus Corona could intervene to put the Reggae Boys in front.
The defeat at the semifinal stage of the Gold Cup was Mexico’s second exit at the semifinal stage in three editions–incidentally both exits came when El Tri used what many would call their “B teams.”
When acting manager Luis Páez was asked about where he thought Mexico was most effective on the attack, he responded, “I will ask you a question. Where did Mexico’s best chances come from?” Although Páez admitted he and Osorio were hamstrung in not being able to bring the players they wanted, he noted that his players continued to put in the required effort throughout the entire tournament.
Meanwhile, Jamaica advances to its second straight Gold Cup final in Santa Clara, where the Caribbean giants will take on the hosts United States for the title on Wednesday, July 26.
And Mexico will be left asking about the lack of leadership in the team, and the culture of the national team in the Osorio era with another tournament setback, or whether these issues are more endemic than just a single manager and his staff away from being truly fixed.