DENVER (AP) Jamaica was so determined to keep Mexico from scoring, it sacrificed its own offense to get the job done.
The game plan worked, and now both teams are in a position to move to the next round if they can take care of business this weekend.
Mexico and Jamaica played to a scoreless draw Thursday night and remained on track to advance to the knockout round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Article continues below ...
Jamaica faces El Salvador and Mexico plays Curacao at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Sunday. Jamaica and Mexico have four points each in Group C while El Salvador has three points. The top two teams in each of the three groups and the two best third-place teams advance to the quarterfinals.
Neither team could break through on a relatively mild night, although Mexico (1-0-1) dominated chances. The 49,121 fans in attendance, the largest crowd to attend a soccer match at Sports Authority Field, heavily favored Mexico. The Mexican team heard some boos after failing to score despite holding a 6-0 advantage in shots on net.
”The fans bought the tickets, they came out to watch a team win and perform well, so we understand their frustration,” Mexico assistant coach Luis Pompilio Paez said. ”We didn’t perform as we should have. The result wasn’t good enough.”
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio served the second of his six-game sideline suspension for berating an official. His team, which beat El Salvador 3-1 in the opener Sunday, did everything but score against Jamaica (1-0-1). It held possession for the majority of the night but never got one past keeper Damian Hyatt.
”We were solid on the back end,” Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said. ”It was a collective effort. We accept the point.”
When Hyatt couldn’t make a save, his teammates came through.
The best chance to score came on Mexico’s fourth corner in the 39th minute when Jesus Molina bounced a header off the turf toward an open net. Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor deflected it off his head over the crossbar to keep the match scoreless.
”We created some chances with the header from Molina in the first half, we had the ball, we had the possession, we just didn’t create enough opportunities,” Pompilio Paez said. ”Jamaica came out with three players on the attack, they attacked with two players in the second half and in the end they attacked with one player.”
Mexico’s Erick Torres had a good chance in the 11th minute off a free kick, but the ball went over the goal. Later, Elias Hernandez, the star in Sunday’s win with two goals, sent a ball to the front of the net that Jamaica cleared.
Torres again had a chance in the 24th minute.
Jamaica, a 2-0 winner over Curacao on Sunday, didn’t generate much in the first half, but nearly scored on one of its only chances when Cory Burke crossed a ball to the far post. Oniel Fisher couldn’t control it before goalkeeper Moises Munoz scooped it up.
It was Jamaica’s only real scoring chance of the night.
”Our players were afraid to take risks,” Whitmore said. ”We mentioned it in the dressing room at halftime that the transition was a bit slow to the attack.”
Burke left the game on a stretcher in the 87th minute after a collision near midfield.
Mexico got a scare in the 25th minute when Torres went down following a collision with Lowe. He briefly left after a trainer attended to his right hand but returned moments later.
The chances kept coming for Mexico in the second half. In the 50th minute, Hernandez bent a free kick just over the net, and he put a low shot on goal moments later that forced Hyatt to make a save.
”We never felt like we were going to lose the game,” Pompilio Paez said. ”We controlled the game for 90 minutes. On the defensive front we were very solid. Our goalie didn’t have a single shot on goal. They had a few counterattacks but we were able to take care of the ball and recover quickly.”
In the first match, El Salvador beat Curacao 2-0 to improve to 1-1 in pool play. Forward Rodolfo Zelaya had a goal and an assist and Gerson Mayen scored the other goal for El Salvador.