San Antonio (July 16th, 2017)- With Mexico and Jamaica virtually through to the next round, it was on El Salvador to force the correct result to put them through. Any slip up from Mexico, and a loss to Jamaica would’ve put them out of third place, which would’ve been good enough to advance to the Quarterfinals of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The upstart crew from El Salvador got the job done. We’ll break down the matches for you right here!
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Mexico, El Salvador, and Jamaica advance
Jamaica 1-1 El Salvador
Both El Salvador and Jamaica knew going into this match that both teams would be through to the knockout round with a draw. Martinique was the only team relatively close to picking up a point in Group B, and Honduras had already clinched a “best third” spot in Group A. With El Salvador already on three points thanks to their win against Curacao, the task was pretty graspable.
Nelson Bonilla started off the scoring in the 15th minute, after the left back, Ruben Marroquin slipped in a beautiful ball. He finished into the side netting, being the first goal Jamaica has allowed at the 2017 Gold Cup.
The game went on for some time, before Alvas Powell was fouled in the area around the 65th minute. Darren Mattocks slammed home the penalty kick for his second goal of the tournament. El Salvador pushed for the winner but weren’t able to get that second goal home. Despite that, El Salvador finished third in the group, locking them into a Quarter-final match in Philadelphia against the United States.
El Salvador surprised many, as they’ve been on quite the downswing in their soccer history, especially following their massive match-fixing scandal. This team, which is relatively young, still got the job done in advancing.
As for Jamaica, it wasn’t the strongest squad they could’ve brought to the competition, but they were still good enough to only allow one goal, and not lose a game in the group. They are definitely worthy of finishing second, and their fans should be proud of their performance so far.
Mexico 2-0 Curacao
Unfortunately for some of the fans, and bandwagon supporters of the Caribbean dark-horse, Curacao just couldn’t get the ball home in this group stage. After a good performance in the first game, they were completely outclassed by El Salvador, and ultimately just couldn’t finish chances against Mexico. Curacao were just overmatched in this tournament, as they faced a solid group.
Angel Sepulveda got the party started in the 22nd minute. Mexico took their expected lead into half-time. Curacao had plenty of chances in the match but multiple went off the bar, a few of their best chances were hit straight at Jesus Corona, and ultimately they just couldn’t put one home.
The scoreline could’ve been much worse if Eloy Room hadn’t stood on his head for most of the second half. The most stunning of his saves came of a corner kick, flicked on to the backpost where the Mexican player headed the ball towards the upper corner, but Room got across in time, and pushed the shot onto the bar before being cleared. He couldn’t save the backline from its shortcomings the whole match though, and in stoppage time Edson Alvarez blasted home to make the scoreline 2-0.
Mexico will be slightly disappointed they didn’t get all nine points from their group, but they still had a decent showing. Who knows how they’ll hold up against stronger opposition though. Their real tests begin in the knockout round.
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