Mexico had a disappointing draw against Jamaica. The result not only stopped Mexico's Gold Cup winning streak but it looked like a big step backward for a lot of players and the team as a whole. Here are a couple of observations from the scoreless draw.
Juan Carlos Osorio/ Pompilio Paez had a huge step backward from their game against El Salvador. While many players’ performance suffered a big drop from their opening win against El Salvador, nobody had one as big as the coach in the second half. Against El Salvador, Osorio/Paez had made the right moves in the second half and helped to improve things and to take control of the game. This game turned out to have the total different effect and after a good first half, the team level of play fell badly. The worse move turned out to be subbing out Rodolfo Pizarro for Cesar Montes, which then led to moving Jesus Gallardo upfield. While the Gallardo/Elias attack had done well against El Salvador, it turned out to be disastrous because of Gallardo's bad level of play against Jamaica. To make matter worse, Elias was then subbed out instead of Gallardo and Mexico never seemed to gel in the final third because of this. Osorio failed to read this game like he had done previously many times and the subs hurt the team a lot.
The B team label was well applied in this game. Mexico's team in this Gold Cup is clearly not the best side but it had looked good before this game and had many people thinking that lot of players in this team could be in the A squad or should have gone to Russia for the Confederations Cup. This game showed, though, that they are still far from the top. Players like Orbelin Pineda, Jesus Gallardo and even Rodolfo Pizarro failed to impress today and seemed to suffer against a defensive oriented physical team. To make matters worse, Mexico's forward line looked even weaker than expected after Alan Pulido's injury.
Young players have impressed but it might not be enough for a win in this competition. The best thing so far in the tournament have been seeing the performance from the youngest players from this team. Edson Alvarez has had two very good games, especially for a player that had participated in the U-20 World Cup this same year. Cesar Montes’ second half senior debut might be the most valuable thing from this Jamaica game, as he showed glimpses of what makes him one of Mexico's brightest defensive prospects. While this is a great thing for Mexican football and it's a big goal for this tournament, it might not be enough to have a deep run in this tournament, which is needed for a NT that has not had a positive summer at all.
The worries about Mexico's forwards appear to be a reality. By far the biggest worry for this team before the tournament was their forwards. The situation grew even worse when their best forward, Alan Pulido, got injured against Paraguay and will be out for the tournament. So far the team has shown that those fears were justified. Angel Sepulveda and Cubo Torres both had bad games as center forwards. Martin Barragan had a disappointing friendly against Ghana and didn't do much to calm people after his play against Jamaica. While this Gold Cup is filled with B teams, the lack of talent in the forwards spot in Mexico might be bigger than with other teams and it might be the achilles heal that bring this team down.
The Curacao game gets added pressure but it might suit Mexico more. While Mexico's tie on Thursday complicated things somewhat for their final game against Curacao, things could be looking up for them. Curacao is a team that came in looking better than others team but has failed to live up to expectations, even though it has showed some interesting things in attack. Still, while their attack has been their strong suit, defensively they have made some big mistakes that has cost them. An offensive team with a weak defense might be just what Mexico needs as a rival.