Mexico Earns Semifinal Spot with Win over Jamaica in World Cup Qualifying

Mexico defeated Jamaica, 3-1, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., in the final match of group play in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. With the result, Mexico claimed second place in Group B and will face the United States in the second semifinal on Friday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

Mexico’s Charlyn Corral celebrates her rocket of a volley goal in a 3-1 win over Jamaica. Mexico moves on the the semifinals. #457624522 /

The win pits Mexico up against the U.S. in a World Cup qualifying knockout round for the second straight time. In 2010, Mexico defeated the U.S., 2-1, to send the Americans into a two-leg playoff against Italy for a spot at the 2011 World Cup. It was Mexico’s first and only win (there’s also a tie in there) against the U.S. Mexico would go on to lose to Canada, 1-0, in the qualifying tournament’s final. However, since Mexico’s upset over the U.S. in 2010 World Cup qualifying, the results have favored the U.S in matches between the two sides.

With the 2015 World Cup field expanded to 24 teams, the top three finishers from the CONCACAF Women’s Championship will qualify for next year’s tournament. The fourth-place CONCACAF team will play Ecuador in a two-leg playoff for a spot in Canada.

Mexico was on the wrong end of stunner in the current tournament when it lost, 0-1, to eventual Group B winner, Costa Rica. Mexico defeated Martinique, 10-0, to pick up three points and make up goal differential on Jamaica. To advance to the semifinals, Mexico needed a tie or win over Jamaica.

Against the run of play, however, Jamaica was the first side to break through with the game’s first goal in the 14th minute. A long ball played down the left flank gave Donna-Kay Henry space to control it, cut back onto her left foot, and lob Mexican goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar to the far post. After a flurry of chances for Mexico, the equalizer came on the half-hour mark. Monica Ocampo got down the left flank for Mexico and hit a low ball into the box, which Jamaica’s goalkeeper Nicole McClure couldn’t handle, and Stephany Mayor was there to clean up the rebound.

Mexico thought it had a second goal in the 40th minute as Charlyn Corral scored on a short corner but was ruled offside. In first-half stoppage time, a cross from the right flank got past everyone, but an unmarked Ocampo got on the end of it and hit the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

The rain subsided at the start of the second half as Mexico continued to press forward. Corral broke through the defense in the opening minutes only to see a late challenge deflect her shot wide. On the ensuring corner kick, Mayor flicked it past McClure but it went off the post. In the 52nd minute, Ocampo sent in a low cross from the left flank that Corral put just wide of the net after a neat dummy run by Mayor.

The charmed life of the Jamaican net was broken in the 59th minute when Kenti Robles bent in a ball from the right flank and Corral took the cross out of the air and put it in the upper 90, giving Mexico a 2-1 lead. Jamaica tried to throw numbers forward, but Mexico was able to spring some players on the counterattack and from there, it seemed the Jamaican side’s energy was gone. Corral scored her second on the night in the 75th minute as she faced up a Jamaican defender in the box, cut to her left, and buried a left-footed shot past McClure to give Mexico a 3-1 lead.

While Mexico gave up the first goal of the game in this match, similar to its tournament opener against Costa Rica, tonight, it looked more composed and didn’t force play. That game plan worked out as the pressure and fatigue wore Jamaica down after Mexico’s equalizer. Corral put in a top performance tonight and her volley was one of the tournament’s best goals. Ocampo has been an active player on the flank, using speed to create scoring opportunities.

Jamaica knew coming into the tournament they were going to be the team that had to do something special to break through against Costa Rica or Mexico to get into the group’s second spot. The Reggae Girlz are a team on the rise if the resources remain available to them. There are several good players on a roster  that has young players coming through the system and getting minutes with the senior team. Hopefully, more attention will be given to the women’s game in Jamaica because they, like Costa Rica, are a rising team and a future contender in tournaments.