Soccer Picks: Mexico and Jamaica Set to Square off in Group C Match
by Matt Cash @MattCashCapper
Mexico and Jamaica were the two finalists in the 2015 edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Jamaicans upset the Americans to make it to the final, but they were no match for El Tri and lost soundly 3-1. They get a shot at redemption in what is one of the most compelling match-ups of the first round.
That is compounded by the fact that both teams emerged victorious in in their first games, so if there’s an outright winner here that is likely to translate into the winner of the group and a match against a third-place team in the Quarterfinals.
Mexico is using this competition to give experience and exposure to younger and more inexperienced players with an eye towards the World Cup. Those young guns rewarded the faith that coach Juan Carlos Osorio put in them with a 3-1 win over El Salvador that wasn’t even that close. Elias Hernandez had a goal and assisted on the other two goals to lead the way. The game could have easily ended 4 or 5-1 if not for a failure to convert some golden opportunities.
Jamaica aka the Reggae Boyz took on Curacao in their opening match and they emerged victorious with a 2-0 win. Curacao might be unknown to many, but Jamaica is certainly familiar with them as the tiny island nation upset the Reggae Boyz just last month in the Caribbean Cup Final.
In this game Jamaica was in control for much of the contest in spite appearing lackadaisical for long parts of the match. They’ll certainly need to bring a much sharper focus if they are to put up a stiff test against the ball controlling tactics of Mexico.
One thing the Jamaican squad will have going for it is likely the best goaltender in the tournament in Andre Blake. The Philadelphia Union keeper was the MLS goaltender of the year last year and has the skills to ply his trade for some of the better teams in Europe. In all likelihood, the 26-year old sees this tournament as an opportunity to showcase his talents for the decision makers when more eyes are on soccer on this side of the pond.
Cash It In: Mexico are -350 favorites, Jamaica +750 underdogs and the draw sits at +390. With Jamaica already eliminated from World Cup qualifying, they brought some of their more experienced players into this tournament to help level the playing field. The Reggae Boyz appear to be taking the long view, pacing themselves for another upset or two in the knock out round. But this game is great prep for those games, and I expect them to put up a stiff challenge against the defending champs. Will it be enough? I don’t think so, but I think a draw is in the cards. Draw 2-2.
Soccer Expert Picks: Draw +390 & Over 2½
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