Jamaica lined up exactly as I had predicted, with the Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake in goal behind Portland Timbers’ Jermaine Taylor, Leicester City’s Wes Morgan, Crystal Palace’s Adrian Mariappa, and New England Revolution’s Je-Vaughn Watson on the back line. The midfield was Leyton Orient’s Jobi McAnuff on the left, Blackburn Rovers’ Lee Williamson and Chelsea’s Michael Hector in the center, and Reading FC’s Garath McCleary on the right behind the striker tandem of Houston Dynamo’s Giles Barnes and Birmingham City’s Clayton Donaldson. Mexico was slightly less predictable, with Málaga's Guillermo Ochoa in goal and PSV’s Héctor Moreno, Querétaro’s Yasser Corona, Santos Laguna’s Néstor Araujo, and Tigres’ Jesús Dueñas on defense. The midfield was FC Porto teammates Héctor Herrera and Miguel Layún on either side of ex-Barcelona and New York Red Bulls defensive midfielder Rafael Márquez, with Benfica’s Raúl Jiménez, FC Porto’s Jesús Corona and Bayer Leverkusen’s Javier Hernandez up top.
Both teams started the match out a little cautiously, Jamaica moving deliberately down the pitch while Mexico looked to drive possession down the wing and force the ball in to the forwards. Five minutes in, Andre Blake did well to come out off of his line to clear a ball out of the eighteen just ahead of an onrushing Chicharito.
Chicharito got his chance at the eighteen minute mark, when Tecatito sent over a perfect cross while Chicharito had found a seam between the Jamaican center backs. Hernandez went up and put the header past Andre Blake, who as impossible of a save it would have been managed to get his fingertips on it. But it wasn’t enough and Mexico was up 1-0.
Jamaica did well after conceding to stick to the game plan. They were measured in their counters, and didn’t try and get into a shootout with El Tri. Unfortunately though for the Reggae Boyz, they couldn’t finish any of those chances. At the start of the second half, Jamaica had a flurry of chances but shot the ball wide or directly at Memo Ochoa every time.
63 minutes in, Clayton Donaldson was taken down in the box, but no penalty was awarded. The replay was quite clear - Yasser Corona took out Donladson’s legs in the box, but no call was awarded. This could have really changed the complexion of the match, but play continued on.
The stake through the heart came some twenty minutes later when Oribe Peralta (who had subbed on for Chicharito just 3 minutes prior) was able to hit a tough-angle shot past a diving Andre Blake and into the far corner of the goal.
Jamaica had a couple of decent chances but just couldn’t beat Memo Ochoa, and the match ended 2-0. Andre Blake played a magnificent game, but he can’t do it all for the Reggae Boyz. Jamaica must find someone who can score a goal, and it might be time to put the ineffectual Clayton Donaldson on the bench for either Dever Orgill or Allan Ottey. At 32, Donaldson can’t be seen as a reliable long-term solution with Giles Barnes, and getting Orgill or Ottey minutes and reps with Barnes against Uruguay mightserve Jamaica well in World Cup Qualifying this September.
For Mexico, they should not feel overconfident after tonight’s performance. At times the defense was sloppy and the offense couldn’t capitalize on a Jamaica defense that allowed far too many chances at goal. Venezuela has shown they’re very capable of playing with the big boys, and if they let Salomón Rondón have the chances that Clayton Donaldson had it could be a much tougher road for Mexico in the tournament.