The 2022 CONCACAF W Championship began today in Mexico. The competition serves as a route for qualification to the Women’s World Cup 2023, with the top 2 teams in each group securing automatic qualification while the 3rd placed team to qualify for the inter-confederation play-offs.
The host nation of Mexico were up against Jamaica in their opening game. Mónica Vergara Rubio lined up Mexico in what was a 4-2-3-1 essentially with Kenti Robles captaining the side. Myra Delgadillo started the game on the right wing while Houston Dash’s Maria Sanchez was on the left with Stephanie Mayor in the hole behind striker Diana Ordóñez.
Jamaica too lined-up in a 4-2-3-1, with Khadija Shaw up top and Drew Spence and Jody Brown flanked on either side and Tottenham Hotspur’s Rebecca Spencer in goal.
Mexico looked to go direct at the start of the game, searching for the long ball over the top. Manchester City’s Khadija Shaw displayed her excellent ability with her back to goal for Jamaica, turning and holding off challenges in the opening minutes. She headed home in the 8th minute from a set-piece situation, peeling away from the marker and asserting her aerial dominance. This was her 52nd international goal in 37 senior national caps.
Mexico did see a lot of the ball following this and managed to create a couple good chances. In 16th minute, following some good work by Sanchez on the left, Mexico hit the post. Kenti was bombing up and down the field but wasn’t really effective in the attacking third of the pitch. She got back really well to defend on transitions.
In the 28th minute, Jaramillo hit a sweet volley from just outside the edge of the box and forced Spencer into making a big save. Mexico dominated the ball, Sanchez looked really threatening but ultimately Jamaica were able to hold on. Mexico weren’t really able to generate high value chances.
In the 40th minute, Jamaica were awarded a penalty following a VAR review for a handball at the edge of the box. Havana Solaun stepped up to take it but skied the attempt, keeping Mexico in the game. Jamaica managed to attack once more before the half-time but Mexico saw it off.
The 2nd half began in a similar fashion to the first half, Jody Brown makes an excellent diagonal run in behind and is played through but she drags her shot wide. Mónica Rubio made the first changes for Mexico in the 51st minute to force a turnaround. Lizbeth Ovalle came on in the place of Delgadillo.
Bunny Shaw came agonizingly close to scoring her second, as she was played through in behind by Jody Brown, who picked substitute Ovalle’s pocked to regain possession. Bunny managed to delightfully chip the on-rushing goalkeeper but the ball hit the post.
As the game continued, Mexico started to be desperate and their chance creation from settled possession started to be really one-dimensional. They lacked ideas. Jamaica did an excellent job to block off central options for Mexico further forcing them towards the wide areas. Second half substitute, Lizbeth Ovalle has a positive impact and tried to make things happen from open-play and dead ball situations.
In the 80th minute, Kenti seemed to be having slight cramps and was replaced by Jimena Lopez for the final 10 minutes. She seemed okay walking off and during the post-match interview. Mexico’s best chance of the 2nd half came in the 83rd minute off of a cross by substitute, Joseline Montoya, but Allyson Swaby managed to get a header on it to push it away.
In the end, Jamaica managed to generate much better opportunities overall. They were able to threaten in behind utilizing the pace of Jody Brown and combining it with Khadija Shaw’s brilliant holdup play.
Mexico’s gameplan was to cross the ball at every opportunity without trying to manifest spaces first. While this is Mexico’s usual approach in games, it proved really ineffective here as it made them very predictable. Jamaica’s returning head coach, Lorne Donaldson, later confirmed the same in his post-match conference. Mexico attempted a total of 34 crosses in the game with only 9 of them being accurate.
Jamaica head coach Lorne Donaldson: "Almost everything they did, we expected it." He notes that his team didn't even play a friendly in the window leading up to this tournament. They just trained in Colorado (where he hails as one of the more famous youth coaches nationally).— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) July 5, 2022
This loss does dent Mexico’s hope of a direct qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. They will now face Haiti on 7th of July and USA on the 11th of July respectively and will have to hope for positive results in both. The play-off berth is still up for grabs but they will have to improve their performances by a lot to secure that.