Defenders lead the way for Jamaica in scoreless draw with Mexico

DENVER – Thursday night’s Gold Cup Group C matchup between Mexico and Jamaica was a rematch of the 2015 final, a match in which El Tri ended the Reggae Boyz's Cinderella run with a 3-1 defeat. This time around, Jamaica earned a bit of redemption, scrapping to a 0-0 draw at Sports Authority Field.

“We accept the point,” Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore told reporters postgame. “It was a difficult game against a good team, so we welcome the point.”

Despite the best efforts from Houston Dynamo forward Erick "Cubo" Torres and the Mexican attack, the Jamaica defense – featuring MLS defenders Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Jermaine Taylor (Minnesota United), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Oniel Fisher (Seattle Sounders) and backstopped by Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union) –  managed to maintain a clean sheet through 90 minutes.

“I think defensively, we were solid at the back,” Whitmore said postgame. “It wasn’t about individual performances. It was a collective effort from the guys at the back.”

Whitmore also offered additional praise for Fisher. Despite featuring in limited minutes for the Sounders, the 25-year-old was singled out by the Jamaica head coach for his incremental improvement while playing for his country.

“Oniel Fisher is an excellent player,” Whitmore said. “Personally, from when I took over from the last coach, Oniel Fisher keeps improving game by game.”

Offensively, it was a different story. Despite having pace and physicality at their disposal, traits praised by Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio in his pre-game presser on Wednesday, Jamaica were unable to take advantage, producing just five shots (none on target) and only holding 26.5 percent of the game’s possession through 90 minutes.

Whitmore explained that the lethargy in the Reggae Boyz's attack was not by design, but rather how the game played out.

“I think the players were afraid to take risks,” he said. “We mentioned in the dressing room at halftime that the transition was a bit slow. We have Darren Mattocks in the attack, so you think we have speed, but all of a sudden we have the ball and we go back. I think it’s a game by game situation and we just have to keep improving.”

Following Thursday night’s draw, the Reggae Boyz remain in second place in Group C with four points from two games heading into Sunday afternoon’s clash with El Salvador in San Antonio (6 pm ET | FS2, UDN). But having witnessed Los Cuscatlecos' 2-0 win over Curacao on Thursday, they won’t be taking their opponents lightly.

“We are in a tournament and we expect a good performance from every country,” said Whitmore. “We look forward to El Salvador.”