Copa América: Mexico salvages win over Jamaica after losing captain Edson Álvarez to injury

Mexico's Edson Alvarez grimaces in pain during a Copa America Group B soccer match against Jamaica in Houston, Texas, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Mexico's Edson Alvarez grimaces in pain during a Copa America Group B soccer match against Jamaica in Houston, Texas, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

It took 69 minutes and multiple close calls, but Mexico finally broke through in the second half of their Copa América opener against Jamaica on Saturday night.

The goal came from an unlikely source in Gerardo Arteaga, who found the net for just the second time in an El Tri jersey. For the vibrant crowd of mostly Mexican fans at NRG Stadium in Houston, it didn’t matter where it came from just that it finally came after tragedy struck the team in the first half.

Edson Álvarez, El Tri’s most accomplished player, went down with a non-contact injury 27 minutes into the match. He grabbed his hamstring as he lay on the grass writhing in pain. A stretcher was brought out for the West Ham midfielder who was clearly in agony, but he was instead helped off the pitch by two trainers. He wouldn’t return and his status moving forward remains unclear.

What was clear was the emotional impact on the team and the crowd full of El Tri supporters. Losing a player of Alvarez’s quality is a brutal blow for Mexico and the crowd’s energy seemed to wane after seeing arguably their best player helped off the field in tears.

The second half began after a longer than usual delay. El Tri’s tardiness coming out of the locker room continued into the second half until a disallowed Jamaican goal in the 57th minute changed the momentum. Soon after, Mexico was firing shot after shot at Jamaica’s Jahmali Waite, who was making a strong case for man of the match as Andre Blake’s replacement, until Arteaga lashed the ball into the side netting from 20 yards out.

Celebrations ensued and El Tri was able to hold on for the 1-0 win. Now, Mexico must wait for news of their injured captain.

Here's how the entire Mexico vs. Jamaica group stage matchup unfolded in real time.

  • Full-time: Mexico holds on for a 1-0 win

    It wasn't always pretty. And for a while in the first half, when Edson Álvarez went down and off with his injury in tears, it was devastating.

    But Mexico responded well, got a deserved goal, and hung on for three points.

    Mixed emotions, assuming Edson's injury is semi-serious... but they'll take the three points.

  • Mexico hanging on...

    Jamaica is pushing for an equalizer. Julio González just got down well to his left to make a save. Pressure still on, though. Into stoppage time now.

  • Attendance: 53,763

    If tickets were priced reasonably, this surely would've been — and should be — a sellout.

  • Goal Mexico!

    Gerardo Arteaga catches a first-time shot as clean as one possibly can, and lashes it into the side netting from 20 yards out.

    Great goal.

    The fans erupt.

    Celebratory beer showers all around.

    It had been coming!

  • 68' Substitutions

    For Mexico, Guillermo Martinez replaces Santiago Gimenez and Carlos Rodriguez comes on for Orbelin Pineda. On the Jamaican side Damion Lowe comes in for Demarai Gray and Michael Hector for Di'Shon Bernard.

  • And another Mexico chance!

    Gimenez the link this time. He finds Julián Quiñones bursting forward. Quiñones takes two excellent touches, into the box, but a Jamaican defender recovers to make a superb last-ditch block.

    Perhaps the best chance of the game yet.

  • Mexico chance!

    Santi Gimenez comes alive, drops a shoulder, does everything right, and blasts a right-footed shot toward the roof of the net.

    But Jamaican goalkeeper Jahmali Waite reacted really well, and got two palms to it.

  • An emblematic sequence just now...

    Mexico played some good stuff in its defensive half. Solved a bit of Jamaican pressure. Fans began to "olé."

    But when they tried to go forward, into the final third, via the wing, a simple misplaced pass sank the attacking move.

    0-0, 63 minutes gone.

  • Jamaica looks dangerous on the break

    The game has opened up a bit. Jamaica has begun to find some counterattacking outlets, unlike in the first half.

    It feels like a goal is coming. Question is: At which end?

  • Now Mexico howls for a penalty...

    It looked like a Jamaica player might've blocked a shot at the top of the box with his trailing arm.

    Referee says play on, though, and the VAR declines to intervene.

  • 52' VAR says no goal

    Michail Antonio ruled offside.

  • Jamaica goal ruled out by VAR

    Michail Antonio scored from a free header at the back post. He was unmarked — perhaps, in part, because he was offside.

    After a VAR review, the goal is disallowed.

    Mexico is wobbling, though. Jamaica has started the second half better.

  • Back underway

    Jamaica with the first chance, in the first minute of the second half. Mexican goalkeeper Julio González spilled what seemed like a simple shot.

    It's eerily quiet in here.

  • Second half begins

    Play has resumed after another extra long halftime at the 2024 Copa América

  • Halftime. 0-0.


    A mixture of golf claps and some boos from the Mexico fans.

    The happier of the two teams is probably ... Venezuela, which beat Ecuador 2-1 earlier this evening, and, at this very moment, might be the favorite to win the group.

  • 45+1 Romo barely misses the target

  • Mexico's response to the Álvarez injury...

    has been decent so far. El Tri has been excellent in defensive transition. Jamaica (in part due to its own sloppiness) can't get out when it wins the ball.

    But there's just not quite enough attacking quality at either end right now to create meaningful chances.

    Almost halftime, still 0-0.

  • Álvarez is a massive loss for Mexico

    The entire Mexico bench got up to console Álvarez as he reached the sideline.

    He means so much to this team — his presence, his calmness on the ball, his passing, his defensive solidity.

    Really difficult to see how El Tri would make a run in this tournament without him.

  • 30' Substitution

    Edson Alvarez is helped off the pitch in tears. Replaced by Luis Romo.

  • Uh oh. Edson Álvarez injured.

    Álvarez, by far the most accomplished player on this Mexico roster, pulled up and went down with a non-contact injury. He appeared to be grabbing his hamstring as he writhed on the grass.

    One of the worst possible developments for Mexico in this first half. He was helped off the field by two staffers, and replaced by Luis Romo.

    Impossible to know the severity, but Álvarez tournament could be over.

  • Leon Bailey's absence

    Shamar Nicholson just went down for Jamaica. Then walked off, and is now back on.

    Seems like a good time for a reminder that Jamaica's most talented player, Leon Bailey, would be starting in Nicholson's place — if he weren't in a prolonged spat with the Jamaican Football Federation. Jamaica listed Bailey on its Copa América roster, but Bailey, who plays for Aston Villa in the English Premier League, has declined to participate.

  • 23'

    Play has resumed. Nicholson back on his feet.

  • Jamaica's Shamar Nicholson is down on the field after a header attempt. Play has stopped as trainers attend to him.

  • 15' Santiago Giménez came close

  • Bright start for Mexico

    El Tri so far has had more of the ball and a few decent chances. Players seem to have a confident zip about them. Crowd is upbeat.

    Jamaica has an equally dangerous front five, though, and will be in this game as long as it stays level, even if it feels unbalanced.

  • 4' Luis Chavez denied

  • Checking in from Houston ...

    This, on one hand, feels like a big occasion for Mexico. A fresh start, in a major tournament, under a manager who isn't (yet) hated.

    But the atmosphere feels ... somewhat underwhelming. Or at least standard for El Tri in the States. The stadium is 2/3 full. There's no heightened buzz above and beyond what you'd get for a Nations League or Gold Cup final.

    Could be because organizers have priced out fans. Could be because of the deflated expectations around this Mexico team.

  • 🇲🇽 vs. 🇯🇲 starts now!

  • Copa América Group B: Mexico vs. Jamaica

    Welcome to our live coverage of Mexico vs. Jamaica in the 2024 Copa América! We are about 60 minutes away from kickoff at NRG Stadium in Houston and Yahoo Sports senior soccer writer Henry Bushnell is on the ground to report from the scene.

    Mexico and Jamaica last met in the 2023 Gold Cup semifinal with El Tri advancing to the final after a 3-0 shutout of the Reggae Boyz. Mexico went on to defeat Panama for its ninth Gold Cup title, the most by any team. El Tri's roster for Saturday's match will look much different, however, as managerJaime Lozano has opted to call up younger players instead of mainstays like Henry Martin, Jaime Lozano and Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa.

    Still, Mexico is the favorite to win Saturday (-225 at BetMGM) with Jamaica (+650) also missing several of its star players. Aston Villa's Leon Bailey has refused to suit up for Heimir Hallgrímson's squad due to a variety of reasons, but mainly because of a rift with the Jamaican soccer federation. Veteran goalkeeper Andre Blake is also sidelined with a knee injury.