Mexico got a last minute goal to get a 2-1 victory over Jamaica and finish the group stage of the 2023 U-15 CONCACAF championship in first place of Group A. Mexico dominated the match, but a lack of finishing made things closer and Jamaica came close to getting a tie that nonetheless would have given Mexico the top spot. El tri prevailed on a terrible pitch that had suffered much after a strong rain on Monday caused the field to flood, while the Haiti and Qatar match took place and caused the pitch to be incredibly muddy. The win made it 9 points out of 9 for Mexico and they’ll now await a rival for their quarterfinal match. Jamaica also went through as the second place finisher.
The match started with a number of changes for Mexico, who needed to switch around and start other players after they had secured qualification to the next round. Mexico went on the offensive from the start with a half-volley forcing a save by Jamaica’s goalkeeper Samir Doshi. Mexico had started well and dominated, but their bad aim wasted many of their chances. There was a dangerous situation when in injury time, Jamaica had a counter and Kai Myles got a possible 1-on-1 chance, but his shot was saved by Mexico’s goalkepeer, Abdon Turrubiantes. The halftime whistle blew and although Mexico had dominated, they had failed to convert.
The second half was under way with the bad news that rain was coming down hard, which was going to make an already destroyed and muddy field even worse. To make matters worse, the rain seemed to hurt CONCACAF’s already poor broadcast, with interruptions coming throughout the match. Off a free kick, Armenta fired a great shot that hit the post, followed by a Reyes rebound and score with a his left foot, but the goal was disallowed. CONCACAF’s transmission cut off, but it appeared it was called off for an offside.
Later, Nicolas Aguilar’s went through Doshi’s legs in a mistimed bal, but luckily for him, the ball went wide. The rain had made the field incredibly muddy and the attacks from both teams were hampered by the ball getting stuck in the mud. From outside the area, Aguilar would get off a great left footed shot that hit the post. Mexico continued to attack and it finally payed off. After getting the ball outside the area, Deibeth Armenta’s strong right-footed shot was deflected over the head of Doshi and into the net to give Mexico the 1-0 lead. It was a somewhat lucky shot but Mexico more than deserved it.
A minute later, Jamaica would take advantage of a mistake by Mexico and even things up. After Reyes lost a ball, Jamaica got a long ball attack and Giovanni Taylor lobbed the ball over Turrubiantes for the 1-1 tie. The goal forced Mexico to go back on the attack after such a short time with a lead over a Jamaican team that was lucky to have evened things back up. It appeared the game would end in a tie, but in the final minute, Mexico had a corner kick. Gael Garcia stepped up to take it and crossed it to the far post where Luis Gamboa rose for the header into the net for the 2-1 lead, and with almost no time left, the win. With the result, Mexico got finished atop of Group A.
If the 4-1 scoreline in the victory over El Salvador flattered the team despite not being all that dominant, the 2-1 scoreline in Jamaica was deceiving as Mexico had been the better side from the start and dominated the entire match. With a lot of changes because of playing consecutive days, Mexico’s squad was still able to play well and have a better showing than they did on Monday. They now get a day of rest before the quarterfinal match on Thursday, which will help Mexico as well as the fields (Estadio Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo and the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal). The fact is both stadiums have been hit by the constant rainfall and both pitches look to be in very poor condition, so they need that extra day as well. With that being said, it doesn’t seem CONCACAF has done a good job of managing this U-15 Championship.