In a stadium that was packed out with fans, the Mexico soccer team managed to dispel any doubts on Sunday night in Philadelphia, and beat Jamaica 3-1 to take home its seventh Concacaf Gold Cup soccer championship.
Coach Miguel Herrera’s veteran team had beaten Jamaica 15 times from their 20 encounters, and their greater experience tipped the balance in their favor, taking them to victory at Concacaf, which groups together the soccer federations of the Caribbean, Central America and North America.
Coach Miguel Herrera’s veteran team had beaten Jamaica 15 times from their 20 encounters
The perfectly watered and manicured pitch at the Lincoln Financial Field played host to a fast and intense game, which took place before a euphoric public that was in a party mood. The 68,000 people who turned out to see the game – a record for a soccer match in Philadelphia – were heard chanting “Olé!”, and “Yes, we can!”
Jamaica controlled the ball better than Mexico, especially in the first half, but the latter team managed to take better advantage of its opportunities, guided by Guardado – who was later named man of the championship – and Jonathan Dos Santos in midfield, and by strikers Corona and Peralta.
The first goal from Mexico came when Villarreal player Dos Santos launched a long pass to Aguiler. The right-winger paused for a second, before passing to Guardado, who put the ball in the net with his left foot. That marked the sixth goal of the championship from the PSV Eindhoven player.
The so-called ‘Reggae Boys’ went 2-0 down straight after half time, after Corona stole the ball from the Jamaican defense
But the goal did not scare Jamaica, who had already had two clear chances in minutes 7 and 18 of the first half. The team, coached by Germany’s Winfried Schaefer, showed that their victory in the semifinals against the United States – who were defending their title – was not just luck. On Sunday, in their first Gold Cup final, the Caribbean team did not just make use of the power of its forwards, but rather used a passing strategy that it tried to maintain throughout the game.
The so-called ‘Reggae Boys’ went 2-0 down straight after half time, after Corona stole the ball from a Jamaican defense that was sleeping on the job, and slotted one past the keeper that was impossible to stop.
That second goal knocked Jamaica off their game, and in the 60th minute, Peralta stole the ball and scored the third goal.
Jamaica managed their goal of honor 10 minutes from the final whistle, when Mattocks, who had started on the subs bench despite his good performance against the US, managed to get one past goalkeeper Ochoa.
The end of the game saw a moving scene. While the Mexican players collected their winners’ medals, the Jamaicans came together in a long group hug, a kind of catharsis. The contrast between the Mexican euphoria and the Jamaican calm just a few meters away was haunting. Just seconds after Guardado picked up the trophy, yellow confetti rained down and fireworks exploded in the sky.
If was the end to the party that Mexico had been dreaming of. The team had reached the final in the midst of controversy over refereeing decisions in its favor in both the quarter- and semi-finals. But it left the championship having improved its game, and with the abilities of its manager no longer in doubt.
For those who were banking on seeing the US play Mexico in the final on Sunday, their disappointment won’t last long: the two teams will play a single game in October for the Concacaf place in the FIFA Confederations Cup.