It should be noted that I was looking for reasons to be impressed by young Chelsea unknown Michael Hector, and also sort of hoping that there was some actual sporting purpose behind his acquisition last summer (i.e. some talent or promise), so perhaps I'm biased a bit too much. I've read a couple match reports, such as the one at the SBN mothership, and they seem to be saying the exact opposite of what I saw Thursday night as Mexico beat Jamaica 2-0 at the Rose Bowl.
I thought Mexico won due to individual quality rather than any actual attempts at playing good football. Not that Jamaica played good football — their midfield alternated between fluid and disorganized at an alarming rate — but they lost not for lack of trying or getting outplayed. Mexico's players were simply better. Chicharito Hernandez and Oribe Peralta, the two goalscorers, are vastly superior finishers to the likes of Clayton Donaldson and Giles Barnes; Tecatito Corona has more talent than all of Jamaica's players combined. And so it goes.
(And let's not forget a couple questionable calls from the referee, including the stonewall penalty that he did not give for a foul on Donaldson.)
xG map for Mexico - Jamaica. Mexico were fortunate not to concede, and made the most of a bunch of half-chances. pic.twitter.com/Jp6kYkRJeZ— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) June 10, 2016
Mexico may have outshot Jamaica 18 to 10, but were it not for some acrobatics and reflexes from Memo Ochoa, World Cup 2014 hero, this would not have been such a straightforward victory. In fact, two of his best saves came against the man of the hour, Michael Hector, who was supposed to be a defensive midfielder but ended playing much more of a box-to-box role, and especially in the first half, doing quite well at it.
Save the first came towards the end of the first half, as the ball was laid off to Hector. His snapshot wasn't perfectly aimed, but it was hit well enough... just not well enough to get past Ochoa's lightning-quick left hand.
Save the second was of a more standard variety, but nonetheless important, as Hector once again popped up in the right place at the right time and delivered a quality contribution.
The 23-year-old, whose future both at club and international level seems to be more in midfield than in defense, made a habit of quality contributions both in attack and defense, makings supporting runs, launching counter-attacks, pressing high and winning the ball, tracking midfield runners, and coming up with a couple clutch tackles. He seems to have an efficiency of movement about him, an almost shuffling-style that can come across as lackadaisical a la Ruben Loftus-Cheek (especially when having to recover his position), but more often than not, that allowed him to stay in control and stay strong to his man. Hector may have had a very bad first half against Venezuela in the first match, but for me, he was Jamaica's best player today.
Hector tired visibly in the second half when Mexico controlled the game for longer periods than in the first. And once Peralta rolled home a second for El Tri, the wind was taken completely out of Jamaica's sails. With the loss, the Reggae Boyz are eliminated and will face fellow two-loss team Uruguay in a dead rubber match on Monday (I'll be at that game, so hopefully can see Hector in person as well).