San Diego, CA – Group C of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup got off to a rousing start on Sunday, as both Mexico and Jamaica picked up two goal wins. It’s time to break down the group and see what we can take away from both games.
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C: Matchday 1 Review
Jamaica 2 – Curacao 0
The two island nations squared off in a rematch of the 2017 Carribean Cup Final. Curacao was coming off their 2-1 defeat of the “Reggae Boyz” and looked to apply pressure early and often. With a relatively strong squad named, Curacao was looking to really make a splash. They got chances early and often, putting as many shots as Jamaica attempted (12), on frame. It was one Andre Blake save after another.
It wasn’t necessarily a superiority thing, as it was Jamaica’s approach to the game. They were content to let Curacao have the ball and sit in front of them for much of the game. Curacao won the possession battle pretty convincingly, 55-45. Jamaica’s approach clearly was catered to the strength of the squad.
Without Giles Barnes, and with the end of Ryan Johnson’s career with the National Team, the Defense is what holds all the best players for Jamaica. With a stout backline filled out by solid MLS defenders across the back, sitting in front of a top 3 goalkeeper in the CONCACAF federation, Jamaica should’ve been content to defend. That’s what they do best. Their plan to hit Curacao on the break came to fruition in the 58th minute.
Romario Williams blasted one home giving Jamaica the 1-0 lead. Not too much later, Darren Mattocks, one of the lone recognizable names in the attacking group Jamaica brought, took a ball down and thundered home a volley from the penalty spot giving Jamaica a 2-0 lead. That’s where the score would end, with Jamaica getting three points to start. Andre Blake earned man of the match honors thanks to his ridiculous 12 saves.
Mexico 3 – El Salvador 1
Mexico got off to the start that most expected too. When we did our preview of the group, it was assumed they’d roll to first place in this group. However, a hiccup was thrown into the fold as Juan Carlos Osorio was suspended for the tournament thanks to his crazy antics in the Confederations Cup Third Place Match.
Mexico were perefectly fine without their leader. After-all, his suspension was only from the point of the team entering the stadium on match-day. He’s allowed to train and set up the team just like normal. And that’s exactly what it was for Mexico. Normal. They dominated a weak CONCACAF side, and that’s come to be expected. Their first goal came of a well worked set piece, and was headed home by Hedgardo Marin.
El Salvador struck back though, and gave Mexico a momentary wake up call. It wasn’t going to be easy, and El Salvador would finish their chances. Nelson Bonilla finished really well for El Salvador to make it 1-1. After that it just felt like it was only a matter of time before Mexico got it’s feet back underneath itself.
The got their second goal about 20 minutes later, thanks to a Elias Hernandez, making it 2-1 going into the second half. El Salvador’s midfield was always going to be their issue, and that’s exactly what Mexico exploited. Darwin Ceren, a key figure in their midfield played a miserable match. Mexico’s quality was just too much for El Salvador to mount another attack on, and it ended up 3-1 after Orbelin Pineda came on as a substitute and scored a goal.
Where We Stand
The next Matchday will be on Thursday, July 13th, as Mexico and Jamaica face off in a rematch of the 2015 final. Curacao and El Salvador will face off in what will be a pivotal match for third place in the group. The two best finishing third place teams will earn a place in the Quarterfinal, so it will be imperative that one of those two get a big result.
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