Date: Thursday, July 13th
Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern, 9:30 p.m. Central, 7:30 p.m. Pacific, 2:30 a.m. UTC
Venue: Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Denver, Colo.)
Television: United States - FOX Sports 1, Univision, Univision Deportes, AFN Sports; Mexico - UnivisionTDN, Canal 5 Televisa, TDN, Azteca 7, SKY Planeta Fútbol, Sky HD; for all other countries check here for your listing
Streaming: fuboTV, FOX Sports GO, Univision Deportes En Vivo, Univision NOW, FOX Soccer Match Pass
Radio: Futbol de Primera Radio, Westwood One Sports
What Mexico will look like: Very different from the last time the squads faced one another in the Gold Cup. Back in 2015, Mexican manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera orchestrated a 3-1 victory over the Jamaicans. Since then, Piojo was fired after a dust-up with a reporter in the Philadelphia International Airport and replaced with Juan Carlos Osorio. JCO is the Mexican Jurgen Klinsmann - while he often times delivers results, it’s always a crapshoot as to who will play and how the team will perform. JCO however has the temperament of his predecessor, and was handed a six match ban for an outburst against Portugal in the Confederations Cup. He’ll be replaced by Luis Pompilio Paez.
The players on the field are almost all different as well. Only Tigres’ Jesus Duenas started the 2015 Gold Cup Final as well as the opener of the 2017 tournament. Mexico has gone with a much younger squad made up almost exclusively of players based in Mexico - the Houston Dynamo’s Erick Torres is the sole outlier, and he was brought in to replace the injured Alan Pulido. Make no mistake though, the lack of Eurpeos doesn’t mean this squad is a pushover. Goalkeeper Jesus “Tecatito” Corona is a stellar goalkeeper, and the defense is led by captain Hugo Ayala and 19 year old Club America phenom Edson Alvarez. This is a solid Mexico team expected to go far in this tournament.
What Jamaica will look like: Much like Mexico, the Reggae Boyz will look much different than the 2015 Gold Cup squad that beat the United States on their home soil to reach the Final. Gone is manager Winfried Schaefer, replaced by Theodore Whitmore who is the interim manager again for his latest stint as manager.
Jamaica too has only one player from that 2015 Gold Cup Final who played in the first match of the 2017 tournament - Je-Vaughn Watson of the New England Revolution. Schaefer relied heavily on older players based mostly in Europe. That strategy got him to the Gold Cup Finals in 2015 but also lead to his demise, as players continued to get call ups and minutes even though they often times showed their age. Whitmore on the other hand has a squad mostly based in Jamaica or the United States - only Dever Orgill (Austria’s Wolfsburger AC) and Dwyane Miller (Sweden’s Syrianska) are European-based - and young. Only Watson, Jermaine Taylor, and Jermaine Johnson have hit their 30th birthday.
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, who did not play in the 2015 tournament as he was recovering from surgery on both knees, captained the team’s match against Curacao. He’ll be expected to be in his usual stellar form, as the Reggae Boyz are fairly young and inexperienced. Jamaica’s offense isn’t as potent as it once was, but it can still effectively counter attack. Orgill, Bethlehem Steel FC’s Cory Burke, and the Charleston Battery’s Romario Williams could start at forward and cause trouble for Mexico’s defense.
What to expect
Mexico is clearly the favorite in this match, however Jamaica cannot be overlooked. Andre Blake is the best goalkeeper in the tournament, and that gives Jamaica a huge edge. The real test is if the Jamaican defense can stifle El Tri’s offense. Angel Sepulveda doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of international teams the way that Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez or Hirving “Chucky” Lozano do, so Mexico’s offense is going to most likely come from the midfield on second and third chances. If Jamaica can limit those and look to hit Mexico on some well orchestrated counter attacks, it could be a long day for El Tri.