Mexico Looks To Extend Unbeaten Streak Against Jamaica

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Mexico Looks To Extend Unbeaten Streak Against Jamaica

Mexico will aim to extend its unbeaten streak against Jamaica to six games when the teams meet at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday. El Tri have picked up three wins and two draws in five matches against the Jamaicans over the past few years. The last game between these teams took place in July 2023, and goals from Henry Martín, Luis Chávez, and Roberto Alvarado handed Mexico a 3-0 win.

Manager Jaime Lozano has called up a strong squad for Copa America this summer, led by experienced captain Edson Álvarez. By contrast, Jamaica could be missing star player Leon Bailey after he declined an invitation to join the roster. Online sportsbooks responded by installing Mexico as the favorite to win this game at -208, but El Tri will need to work hard against a tough, energetic Jamaica team.

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Mexico might have to improve defensively to win

Mexico’s preparations for this tournament have been far from ideal. El Tri lost 4-0 to Uruguay in a pre-tournament friendly on June 5, and they then suffered a 3-2 defeat against Brazil three days later. Both of those teams are strong in attack, but Mexico’s manager should still be concerned after watching his defense concede seven goals in two games.

Jamaica’s forwards are quick and skilful, so the Mexico’s back-four will need to be far more robust in order to win this game. El Tri have only kept one clean sheet in their last seven games against Jamaica, which should serve as a warning to the players. Johan Vásquez and César Montes will have their work cut out against Jamaica striker Michail Antonio, and they will need to win the physical battle on Saturday.

Jamaica’s path to victory likely includes Michail Antonio 

Michail Antonio will be crucial to Jamaica’s chances of beating Mexico. The West Ham forward finished the 2023/24 season with a flourish, scoring three goals in his final six games. He should carry that momentum into Copa America, and he will be Jamaica’s primary attacking threat at this tournament.

Antonio has only scored three goals in 15 games for Jamaica since he decided to represent the Reggae Boyz in 2021. However, that has largely been due to his teammates’ lack of service. If they can find a way to unleash him on Saturday, Antonio could cause plenty of problems for this struggling Mexico defense.

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Mexico projected starting 11

Julio González is likely to start in goal. The manager shocked many fans when he overlooked veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa for his Copa America roster. Luis Malagón has been ruled out with an injury, so González is likely to start. He has only made six appearances for El Tri, the 33-year-old stopper is the most experienced player in the current Mexico squad.

Johan Vásquez and César Montes are likely to start as central defenders. Gerardo Arteaga should be given the nod at left-back, while Jorge Sánchez and Israel Reyes are vying for a starting berth at right-back. Edson Álvarez will anchor the team in midfield, and Erick Sánchez and Luis Chávez are both expected to start too.

Santiago Giménez should lead the line in attack. He has been in fine form for Feyenoord over the past couple of years. Uriel Antuna had a superb season for Cruz Azul, so he could start on the right of the attack, ahead of Roberto Alvarado. Julián Quiñones and Alexis Vega are among the candidates to start on the left.

Jamaica projected starting 11

Captain Andre Blake will start in goal for Jamaica. Manager Heimir Hallgrímsson opted for a 4-1-3-2 formation when the Reggae Boyz faced the Dominican Republic and Dominica earlier this month. However, he may revert to his usual 3-4-3 approach on Saturday. If so, we should see Amari’i Bell, Michael Hector, and Di’Shon Bernard in defense, with Greg Leigh and Dexter Lemikisa deployed as wing-backs.

Damion Lowe typically plays as a defender for Philadelphia Union, but he could start in the holding midfield role on Saturday. Real Salt Lake’s Kevon Lambert is available to partner him in midfield. Michail Antonio, Demarai Gray, and Bobby Decordova-Reid could form the attacking trio, although Shamar Nicholson offers another option. Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey was selected for the squad, but his agent said he would refuse to play.

Photo by Associated Press