Mexico looks to adapt in Guardado’s absence

Mexico (pictured) trains at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, USA, on June 8, 2016.(Photo: Mexsport)

PASADENA, California -- Midfielder Andres Guardado won’t play for Mexico on Thursday, when it faces Group C rival Jamaica in the 2016 Copa America Centenario at the Rose Bowl.

The PSV Eindhoven standout will serve a one-game suspension after being ejected from Sunday’s 3-1 win over Uruguay.

But missing one of his core players is not a problem for Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio. The 55-year-old made it clear at the start of the tournament that his lineups are etched in pencil. He erases and writes in different names for different opponents. That practice won’t change against Jamaica, a team that the Tricolor beat in last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup final under former manager Miguel Herrera.

“We try to find the best way to counter his absence,” Osorio said about Guardado.

One way Osorio plans to fill the void depends much on Jamaica's personnel and formation.

“It will depend on who are the central defenders, either (Taylor), Wes Morgan or Adrian Mariappa or a combination of those players,” remarked Osorio said. “They are strong playing in the air. That is why we work on passing from the waist down, trying to find an anticipated shot and not force anything on top.”

Osorio won’t predict what Jamaica will do. He has studied the Caribbean champion thoroughly and has devised a strategy to combat its dual-forward attack. 

“We had said that against a team that plays with two forwards, we would plan for a specific strategy that will allow us to be superior in numbers,” Osorio noted. “If Giles Barnes and Clayton Donaldson play, that will tell us which way we will lean towards. That will help determine if we play with three or four in the back.”

Regardless of his or the Reggae Boyz's starting 11, Osorio did admit that absence of Guardado is significant, but emphasized his squad is equipped to accomplish its goals regardless of who’s on the field. He didn’t divulge the name of the 2015 Gold Cup Golden Ball winner’s replacement. A strong candidate appears to be 20-year-old Hirving Lozano, who was named the best player at the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

Lozano, a speedy, skilled and agile player, is coming off a Liga MX Clausura title-winning campaign with Pachuca and is one of the more popular players in the country at the moment. 

“Whomever is in Guardado’s spot will have to play at the same level that we are always used to playing,” finished Osorio said. “This is a collective effort in an important match for us.”