Mexico Dent Jamaica’s Gold Cup Fairytale Ending (Video)

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd
Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Reggae Boyz crumple with feeble final showing

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will return to the island as Gold Cup heroes despite failing at the final hurdle to win the competition after being brushed aside by Mexico 3-1 on Sunday.

The battling Boyz, who made history by becoming the first Caribbean outfit to appear in the final of the competition following their deserved shock success over co-hosts USA, were technically outclassed by ‘El Tri’ in a high-octane clash.

Tricky left winger Andres Guardos’ sixth goal of the competition put Mexico in charge on 31 minutes, Jesus “Tecatito” Corona doubled their lead just after the turnaround and veteran Oribe Peralta killed off Jamaica’s dreams on 61 minutes.


But substitute Darren Mattocks, who was surprisingly replaced in the starting line-up by fellow striker Simon Dawkins, gave the Boyz a glimmer of hope with a clinical finish but there were only 10 minutes remaining when he struck.

Jamaica head coach Winfried Schäfer said: “For me this is not silver, for me this is gold. Jamaica should be very proud.

“I’m very proud to coach this team. Nobody gave us a shot but this team played all its matches over its head.”

The Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, three-quarters filled with vocal Mexico fans, was mainly silenced for the opening 15 minutes by Jamaica’s slick passing and patience in their build-up play to outclass ‘El Tri’.

Schäfer’s starting line-up, comprised seven players who ply their trade in England and the other four earning a living in the MLS, exposed Mexico’s frailties with an initial inspired display in the opening exchanges.

Jobi McAnuff made the first impact for the Boyz, aggressively bundling into defender Paul Aguilar on three minutes, and five minutes later he himself was bundled off the ball on the edge of the area only for Jesus Duenas – involved in his first Gold Cup action – to be booked for his challenge.

From the resultant free-kick skipper Rodolph Austin’s free-kick fizzed across the face of the goalmouth and past Guillermo Ochoa’s right-hand post, narrowly out of reach of leaping midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson.


And Austin gave away a free-kick 35 yards out when he fouled Duenas, but the set-piece was wasted. Mexico started to find their feet after their first taste of a goalscoring opportunity, moving men forward with purpose.

Darren Mattocks via Youtube/CONCACAF
Darren Mattocks via Youtube/CONCACAF

A sliding block from Kemar Lawrence deflected Duenas’ 22nd-minute effort that went into the side-netting, followed by two attempts by Corona – a header that Ryan Thompson tipped wide and a curling shot that went over the target.

Austin was booked on 30 minutes and within seconds Guardos superbly found the top left corner with a sublime volley that left overworked Thompson rooted to the spot.

The unmarked PSV striker grabbed his sixth Gold Cup goal when a free-kick found Paul Aguilar on the right flank, who picked out captain Guardado to cooly sidefoot home.

At the other end Diego Reyes was booked on 33 minutes for preventing McAnuff from bursting into the area. Giles Barnes, subdued without Mattocks to play off, earned Jamaica’s first corner after his free-kick was deflected.

Jamaica’s response to going behind was positive but toothless, so ‘El Tri’ kept pushing forward to extend their lead.

Athletic Austin was fortunate not to be shown a second yellow for his a reckless challenge on defender Francisco Rodriguez, and the captain immediately focused his eyes on El Salvador’s referee Joel Aguilar who generously gave the midfielder the benefit of the doubt.

And the closest that the Boyz came to an equaliser was when Diego Reyes almost poked Adrian Mariappa’s cross into his own net on 45 minutes.

After the interval Mexico came out all guns blazing and surged into what proved to be an unassailable lead.


Corona stole the ball off Austin then weaved into the penalty area before guiding the ball through the legs of lunging defender Wes Morgan and into the bottom right, past the despairing dive by Thompson.

Jamaica appeared deflated and tired, with the obvious fear factor from Schäfer that his side would capitulate as they were clearly struggling against the superiority of ‘El Tri’.

And sure enough Peralta pounced on a defensive error to leave the Boyz in turmoil at 3-0. Michael Hector scuffed Aguilar’s telling cross from the right, his attempted clearance falling kindly for Peralta to thump in from six yards.

Mattocks bagged a late consolation for Jamaica, latching onto McAnuff’s pass before brilliantly cutting inside Rodríguez from the left flank and beating the sprawled out Ocha.

Yet Mexico coach Herrera didn’t look concerned as he wasn’t expecting a Jamaica comeback, and despite coming under recent pressure he will no doubt keep hold of his job thanks to his unbeaten run in the competition to capture their third Gold Cup from the past four tournaments.

Jamaica’s rare bout of dubious defending was a result of the squad simply running out of steam, having worked tremendously hard over the past two months with 17 of their 23-player squad involved in last month’s Copa America in Chile.

That had been a learning curve but exhaustion was bound to set in soon. On the other hand, the camaraderie that the Boyz generated from back-to-back tournaments holds them in good stead for the future despite this slip up.

And it was clear that the Boyz were unable to deal with the ruthless efficiency of Mexico, who notched 16 goals to easily finish as the tournament’s top scorers.

Mexico had been underwhelming since crushing out-of-sorts Cuba 6-0 to kick-off their campaign in the competition, and only scored penalties in the knockout stages to scrape past Costa Rica and then Panama before everything slotted into place to foil Jamaica.

Schäfer, who had adopted the “David v Goliath” ethos at the tournament, had overseen many disciplined performances coupled with strategic counter-attacking on set-pieces and utilising the speed of forwards Barnes and Mattocks to forge a cohesive unit.


But the Boyz against Mexico they were back to being outclassed by opponents, and were forced to chase the game once ‘El Tri’ moved ahead.

And worryingly Schäfer’s side played like they did when they made a stuttering start to the Caribbean Cup on home soil in Montego Bay.

Last year’s dismal displays left fans calling for the German veteran to be axed, so he tried one last trick to keep his job by reverting to tight defensive tactics in November. This worked wonders and the rest is history, as the Boyz went on to capture the main prize of the Caribbean Cup as well as bragging rights as to who is the best side in the region.

He continued to employ these tactics on their Copa America debut last month, and although it was a learning curve – losing 1-0 to giants Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – the Boyz lacked the spark of any real firepower.

Schäfer saw the potential to steam ahead in other tournaments where the opposition were not such heavyweights, and tinkered with his 23-player squad by retaining 17 to continue at the Gold Cup. The team spirit built up appears to be working in their favour and the hammering by Mexico is simply a blip.

Schäfer explained: “I built a new team in one year with new players from England and the MLS in North America. Team-building isn’t only about playing good football — team-building is also about team spirit — we have very good team spirit.”

And for a side who frustrated and prevented the talents of Uruguay Edinson Cavani and Argentina Lionel Messi from making the scoresheet at the Copa America, then Jamaica’s solid defence has worked in their favour in recent weeks.

But the tired Boyz were doomed once they fell two goals behind, the strike knocking the stuffing out of them.

Despite some dodgy goalkeeping at times from second choice Thompson, elevated to a starting berth after Dwayne Miller got a head injury against El Salvador in their last group game, the Boyz had conceded just three goals in the entire tournament until Mexico made it six – although could have scored many more had it not been for Thompson’s alertness and impressive positioning.

Disappointed Schäfer said: “No one deserved to win the Gold Cup more than us.”


Jamaica have alerted the Caribbean region to the ability to mix it with the best teams in the world, and for the first time ever in the Gold Cup all four Caribbean representatives – Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica as well as Trinidad & Tobago – progressed out of their group.

The final result was a bitter blow for the Boyz, but their tournament results is a platform to build on and overall Jamaica’s players may have had their pride bruised yet deep down they are all deservedly brimming with confidence.

JAMAICA: Thompson; Lawrence, Hector, Morgan, Mariappa; Austin, Watson (Seaton, 60), McAnuff, McCleary (Mattocks, 60); Dawkins (Humphrey, 74), Barnes Subs: Miller, Blake, McFarlane, Holness, Grant, Laing, Ottey, Clennon

MEXICO: Ochoa; Layun, Rodriguez, Alanis, Reyes, Aguilar; Guardado (Torres, 62), J Dos Santos, Duenas (Javier Orozco, 86); Peralta, Corona (Esquivel, 82) Subs: Jonathan Orozco, Munoz, Herrera, Vazquez, Rios, G Dos Santos


July 18: USA 6 Cuba 0

July 18: Jamaica 1 Haiti 0

July 19: Trinidad & Tobago 1 Panama 1 (Panama won 6-5 on pens)

July 19: Costa Rica 0 Mexico 1

July 22: Jamaica 2 USA 1


July 22: Mexico 2 Panama 1

July 25: 3rd/4th Play-off, Panama 1 USA 1 (Panama won 6-5 on pens)

July 26: Final, Jamaica 1 Mexico 3

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