Mexico's defense one of few bright spots in Gold Cup draw with Jamaica
On Thursday night, Mexico and Jamaica both shuffled to a disappointing 0-0 draw in Denver. Eager to walk away with a point, the Reggae Boyz sat back and allowed El Tri to dominate possession during the Gold Cup match. Following an impressive defensive showing from Jamaica, and a lack of creativity from Mexico, the CONCACAF clash finished without a goal for either side.
With a draw in hand, Mexico must now prepare for its final game of the group stage against Curacao on Sunday. A victory would see them through as group winners to the knockout rounds.
It's tough to come up with any from this boring match, but one thing which must be noted is the defense.
After an underwhelming performance from the Mexican backline against El Salvador, El Tri's defense looked much better against Jamaica. Edson Alvarez and Hedgardo Marin were especially impressive with their starting roles for Mexico.
The fact that Jamaica held Mexico scoreless should be worrisome. Granted, the team had to deal with a rival that essentially parked the bus -- especially in the second half -- but there weren't enough players willing to take risks in the attack.
When Mexico needed more creative outlets, only a couple of players were able to provide threatening and daring runs or passes.
Manager (rating out of 10)
6.5 -- While the suspended Juan Carlos Osorio watched from a club box high up in the stands, assistant manager Luis Pompilio Paez once again took charge for Mexico. Whether it was Paez or Osorio who came up with the starting XI, El Tri should have been able to gain a victory, in theory.
Despite the failures of individuals to find the back of the net, some of the blame for the lack of goals should be placed on the management's questionable substitutions in the second half.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Moises Munoz, 7 -- No complaints for the veteran goalkeeper. During the rare moments when he needed to step up against Jamaica, Munoz did an excellent job controlling his net.
DF Edson Alvarez, 7.5 -- Was superb for Mexico. The versatile 19-year-old shut down the opposition with a handful of crucial tackles. The right-back was also an asset with his passing going forward.
DF Hugo Ayala, 6.5 -- Although he sometimes failed to keep up with Jamaica's counters, the team captain was vital with his strong presence which kept the Reggae Boyz scoreless.
DF Hedgardo Marin, 7 -- Almost looked like a midfielder with his pressure and movement high up the pitch. The 24-year-old appeared more confident than usual.
DF Jesus Gallardo, 4 -- The left-back continues to struggle with his defensive duties. Once he was placed higher as a winger, Gallardo regularly failed to move past Jamaica's backline.
MF Jesus Duenas, 6.5 -- A decent evening for the Tigres player, who was an excellent source of distribution for Mexico in the midfield but was also rarely a threat for the opposition.
MF Jesus Molina, 7 -- The hard-working defensive midfielder nearly had the game-winner from a header in the first half. A clear upgrade from Jorge Hernandez against El Salvador.
MF Rodolfo Pizarro, 4.5 -- A disappointing match for Pizarro, who occasionally lost the ball in the midfield and had little impact in the game.
FW Orbelin Pineda, 7.5 -- Mexico's best on the field. Pineda took risks with his runs and was proactive with his aggressive dribbling. The team needed more players like him Thursday.
FW Erick Torres, 5 -- Credit must be given to Torres for his header that hit the post. That said, Jamaica did a fantastic job of frustrating and marking the striker throughout the draw, and he was rarely a threat to score throughout.
FW Elias Hernandez, 7 -- Another source of much-needed creativity for Mexico. Hernandez wasn't at his best but was still able to produce a handful of dangerous crosses and shots.
DF Cesar Montes, 6.5 -- Was substituted on for Pizarro during halftime. Other than his conservative passing, there isn't much to say about the defender, who had very little work to do.
FW Martin Barragan, 5.5 -- Was substituted on for Duenas during the 67th minute. Like Torres, Barragan was well-marked by Jamaica. A quiet match for the striker, who couldn't find a shot on target.
MF Erick Gutierrez, N/A -- Was substituted on for Hernandez during the 76th minute to little effect.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.