The Mexican national team will feel right at home in Pasadena on Thursday night in front of what is expected to be a large, overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd at the Rose Bowl.
After a 3-1 victory over Uruguay, Mexico will play CONCACAF foe Jamaica at 7 p.m. with a chance to clinch a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal berth. If El Tri wins, they secure a top-two finish in Group C.
The game is a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup final when Mexico won 3-1 in front of yet another boisterous green, red and white-clad crowd in Philadelphia.
“Every time we play here in the United States, we are very privileged,” Mexico defender Hector Moreno said in Spanish. “We are very blessed to have the support of the people here. Whether it’s in Los Angeles or any major (U.S.) city, they come to support us. We take that as extra motivation rather than that being a disadvantage (for other teams).”
The stakes for Jamaica are high as the island nation would be eliminated from quarterfinal contention with a loss. However, Jamaica forward Giles Barnes, who plays for the Houston Dynamo, said the potential for elimination is not on the team’s radar.
“We’ve got the fire in our belly from the Gold Cup final,” he said. “We’re thinking that we’re going to be here for the long run.”
Mexico has a 20-game unbeaten streak, the longest active streak in the world. The Reggae Boyz have only four wins against Mexico in their history, with the most recent coming in 2008 in World Cup Qualifying. Playing in its second straight Copa America, Jamaica has yet to earn a single point in a Copa match. The team lost 1-0 to Venezuela in its opening game this year and lost all three of its group games in 2015 by the same score.
There is a difficult task ahead, but Jamaica coach Winfried Schaefer said his team is not afraid of the challenge. He remembers how his team was able to sway some of the Mexican supporters at last year’s Gold Cup and earn their applause by the end of the match. He hopes the game in the Rose Bowl will end with similar praise, but a different result.
“I hope after one hour, the Mexico people come to us,” Schaefer said. “It’s possible.”