| September 22, 2020

Local favorite Mexico charges into Copa rematch with Jamaica

Local favorite Mexico charges into Copa rematch with Jamaica
PASADENA, Calif., June 9: The last time Mexico faced Jamaica, it left the field as the champions of a major international tournament.

Although Mexico can't win a trophy in Thursday night's rematch of last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup final, El Tri can take a big step toward Copa America success in the friendly confines of the Rose Bowl.

The Mexicans hope to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals when they essentially host the Reggae Boyz before tens of thousands of their fans in Southern California.

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio and his players are wary favorites, since they know all about Jamaica's ability to surprise any opponent with opportunistic goal-scoring, particularly through the air. Osorio hasn't lost in eight games as Mexico's new manager, and he hopes to take away Jamaica's strengths while moving his team forward.

"We are selecting a very athletic team — as athletic as we can," Osorio said Wednesday night before training. "We think that we will have, in the first 11, six players that are very good in the air. We will try to defend in a proactive way, rather than a negative way. Instead of going toward our goalie, we will go toward their goal."

Mexico is unbeaten in its last 20 international matches and is still perfect under Osorio, the Colombian who took over the difficult job when Miguel Herrera was fired two days after winning the Gold Cup. El Tri opened Copa play with an impressive 3-1 victory over Uruguay, looking comfortable in Osorio's schemes against a difficult opponent.

To keep that momentum going, Mexico must rise to the challenge posed by Jamaica's athletic lineup. Osorio also emphasized the importance of possession and the avoidance of set pieces for Jamaica, both corollaries to their desire to keep the ball off the heads of Jamaica's scorers.

"I think the strength of our team relies in that collective tactical versatility," Osorio said. "We hope to show tomorrow that the most important thing for our team is the performance of all 11 players, and not one person individually."

The last time Mexico played in Pasadena was last October, when tens of thousands of locals roared for their 3-2 victory over the United States and its outnumbered fans in the playoff for a Confederations Cup berth.

The cheers in Arroyo Seco will be even more one-sided against Jamaica, but Mexico doesn't take its LA support for granted.

"Every time we play here in the United States, we are very privileged," Mexico defender Hector Moreno said. "We are very blessed to have the support of the people here. Whether it's in Los Angeles or any major (U.S.) city, they come to support us, and we take that as extra motivation, rather than that being a disadvantage. We think our opponents are used to playing in hostile situations, but we look at it as motivation for us to win the game."

Osorio didn't announce a replacement for Andres Guardado, who was ejected in the second half against Uruguay. Guardado scored one of Mexico's goals against Jamaica last year.

Rodolph Austin also will be out for Jamaica after his straight red card against Venezuela, but Leicester captain Wes Morgan is a logical candidate to replace him in the starting lineup. Coach Winfried Schafer used Morgan as a substitute in his club's 1-0 loss to Venezuela, saying Morgan was tired from partying last month after the Foxes' improbable Premier League title.