Mexico vs. Jamaica - matchup image - Gold Cup 2017

Mexico vs. Jamaica | 2017 Gold Cup Match Preview

Mexico vs. Jamaica
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup – Group C, Matchday 2
Sports Authority Field – Denver, Colorado
Thursday, July 13 – 10:30 pm ET
WATCH: FS1, Univision, UDN in USA; TSN1/4 in Canada

The early frontrunners in Gold Cup Group C meet in Mile High country on Thursday, in a rematch of the 2015 edition’s championship final that constitutes one of the juiciest matchups of this year’s group stage.

Both El Tri and the Reggae Boyz won their opening matches in San Diego on Sunday, setting up their head-to-head meeting as a likely battle for first place, the reward for which is a quarterfinal matchup with a third-place team from one of the other groups at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona on July 20.

As is nearly always the case for Mexico in this event, a strongly partisan pro-El Tri crowd is expected at the home of the Denver Broncos, further bolstering their status as heavy favorites against the islanders.

Mexico

El Tri and the United States, the perennial odds-on picks to win this and every Gold Cup, entered this year’s edition with experimental squads intended to offer opportunities for new players and rest established ones. But while the Yanks’ rejiggered roster flailed in their tournament-opening draw with Panama, Mexico powered past El Salvador in a 3-1 victory that underlines their credentials to defend their title.

Morelia winger Elias Hernandez scored one goal and assisted on the other two, including a pinpoint set-piece delivery to the head of Hedgardo Marin to open the scoring. Yes, El Tri have reason to rue the slack defending – and the open tempo, perhaps – that allowed El Salvador’s Nelson Bonilla to strike back almost immediately.

But on balance it was a reassuring performance, especially given that head coach Juan Carlos Osorio watched this one from the suite level as he began the six-game suspension handed down by FIFA for his misbehavior during the Confederations Cup. Jamaica will pose a stiffer test, and should provide more fodder for JCO’s famous notebook.

MEXICO 23-PLAYER SQUAD

Goalkeepers (3): Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul / MEX), Miguel Angel Fraga (Atlas / MEX), Moises Munoz (Puebla / MEX)

Defenders (9): Hugo Ayala (Tigres UANL / MEX), Raul Lopez (CF Pachuca / MEX), Hedgardo Marin (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Alejandro Mayorga (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Jesus Molina (CF Monterrey / MEX), Cesar Montes (CF Monterrey / MEX), Jair Pereira (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Luis Reyes (Club Atlas / MEX), Luis Rodriguez (Tigres UANL / MEX)

Midfielders (5): Edson Alvarez (Club America / MEX), Jesus Dueñas (Tigres UANL / MEX), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas UNAM / MEX), Jorge Hernandez (CF Pachuca / MEX), Rodolfo Pizarro (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX)

Forwards (6): Martin Barragan (Club Necaxa / MEX), Erick Gutierrez (CF Pachuca / MEX), Elias Hernandez (Club Leon / MEX), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas Guadalajara / MEX), Erick "Cubo" Torres (Houston Dynamo / USA), Angel Sepulveda (Monarcas Morelia / MEX)

Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio (Colombia); assistant Pompilio Paez in charge during match play

Jamaica

The Reggae Boyz can be happy that they took revenge on Curacao – who upset them in last month’s Caribbean Cup final – and finished their limited number of clear chances relatively efficiently on Sunday. But several red flags popped up that suggest they’re ill-prepared for the mammoth task of going toe to toe with CONCACAF’s mightiest giant.

Jamaica looked sluggish and disinterested for long stretches under the Southern California sun, and Mexico’s passing and movement will swiftly exploit any such shortcomings in terms of fitness and organization – especially at Denver’s lung-burning altitude. Footage of El Tri’s 3-1 win in the tournament final two years ago provides a useful example:

So coach Theodore "Tappa" Whitmore may elect to rotate some younger and fresher legs into his lineup this time around. The Portland TimbersDarren Mattocks certainly made a case for a starting role with an energetic cameo against Curacao, punctuated by a thumping goal.

JAMAICA 23-PLAYER SQUAD

Goalkeepers (3): Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union, USA); Damion Hyatt (Arnett Gardens FC, JAM); Dwayne Miller (Valsta Syrianska IK, SWE)

Defenders (8): Sergio Campbell (Pittsburgh Riverhounds, USA); Oniel Fisher (Seattle Sounders FC , USA); Rosario Harriott (Harbour View FC, JAM); Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls, USA); Damion Lowe (Tampa Bay Rowdies, USA); Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers, USA); Ladale Richie (Montego Bay United FC, JAM); Jermaine Taylor (Minnesota United FC, USA)

Midfielders (5): Michael Binns (Portmore United FC, JAM); Ewan Grandison (Portmore United FC, JAM); Kevon Lambert (FK Vojvodina, SRB); Ricardo Morris (Portmore United FC, JAM); Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution, USA)

Forwards (7): Cory Burke (Bethlehem Steel FC, USA); Owayne Gordon (Montego Bay United FC, JAM); Jermaine Johnson (Tivoli Gardens FC, JAM); Darren Mattocks (Portland Timbers, USA); Shamar Nicholson (Boys' Town FC, JAM); Dever Orgill (Wolfsberger AC, AUT); Romario Williams (Charleston Battery, USA)