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Mexico vs. Jamaica: Expect El Tri to pass first Hex test

Jamaica have bolstered their squad with new English-based players, but Mexico will still expect to gain three points at home.

Christian Petersen

El Tri kicks off their Hex campaign late on Wednesday night, when they host Jamaica, who did well to get out of a third round group with the United States and Guatemala to get here. They have an outside shot at picking up fourth place and making their way to a World Cup qualifying playoff, but don't expect them to pick up a point in Mexico.

Jamaica has a bit of a new look for the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but their new players shouldn't be anything that terrify Mexico. Marvin Elliot, Jobi McAnuff, Garath McCleary, Theo Robinson and Jermaine Beckford have all decided to commit to the Raggae Boyz now that a World Cup berth is a realistic possibility, but Junior Hoilett has yet to commit to Jamaica or Canada and is not in this squad.

Luton Shelton, Omar Cummings and Je-Vaughn Watson, who were all key players in the third round for Jamaica, have been left off this team. There's also no place for up-and-coming MLS star Darren Mattocks, who was left out in favor of the more experienced English-Jamaican players.

'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre has stuck with most of the players that played Denmark in a friendly last week, calling in just a few foreign-based reinforcements. Of course, the players that have joined up are key players and should slot right into the starting XI. 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado add some much-needed attacking punch, while Hector Moreno is arguably Mexico's best central defender at present. The biggest name to be left off the team is 'Memo' Guillermo Ochoa.

Expect three like-for-like changes with the newly arriving stars, plus a slight formation change. Giovani dos Santos will come in for a center forward, and will operate behind Hernandez in a one-striker formation. The goalkeeper, fullbacks and center of midfield should be unchanged from the Denmark match.

Jamaica have athletic midfielders and forwards that could catch Mexico out on the counter, but that's almost certainly the only way that they're going to score. They don't have much in the way of creative midfielders, and will struggle to both get a hold of the ball and keep the ball against Mexico. Their defense is a bit shaky, and will probably get exposed by the movement of Chicharito, along with the quality of the attacking band of three behind him, a few times on Wednesday night.

The Reggae Boyz showed against the United States that they have what it takes to dictate the style of play against a superior opponent and use their athleticism to steal a goal, but Mexico is a technically better team than the U.S., and playing at home. El Tri has to be weary of counter attacks, but they should be able to win comfortably.