GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio says he was denied top players for the CONCACAF Gold Cup’s knockout rounds because “our bosses and the clubs themselves” had other ideas.
Seeking to win the Gold Cup for the fourth time in five tournaments, Mexico wanted to use some of the six replacements each team is allowed under tournament rules. He spoke about the idea with his top player pool on June 25, a day after a win over host Russia at the Confederations Cup.
“I met with seven players we thought about bringing to the Gold Cup. I intended to bring them,” Osorio said Wednesday on the eve of a Gold Cup semifinal against Honduras. “But we had to get to the 23-man final roster. The who, what, why is a question for our bosses and the clubs themselves.”
Canada plays Jamaica in the first doubleheader opener. The winners play Sunday in a semifinal at Pasadena, California.
Mexico’s best players were given the group phase off at the Confederations Cup. Players from the 40-man preliminary roster are eligible to be added.
Osario brushed aside the criticism that followed a 0-0 group stage draw against Jamaica.
“With this group,” he said in Spanish, “it is a big development situation, and they are young and coming along well.”
Honduras has far more players from it’s top-tier group.
“We are going to face a team that is ready,” Osorio said. “ We have a group trying to come together. The three previous results were three positive results for Mexico. Tomorrow with this new group, we will try to play a good game and look to win.”
Osario will watch from a suite, serving the fourth of a six-game suspension assessed by FIFA for his use of “insulting words” toward officials during a Confederations Cup match against Portugal.
“I can’t deny it has been quite a challenge for myself,” Osario said, speaking in English this time. “It has been very difficult, very frustrating.”
Mexico did not make any roster changes. The veterans include goalkeepers Jesus Corona and Moises Munoz.
Canada, in the Gold Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2009, will welcome Cyle Larin, left off the roster for the group stage following his arrest on a DUI charge last month in Orlando, Florida, where he plays in Major League Soccer.
“Cyle is a powerful forward,” Canada coach Octavio Zambrano said. “He’s a presence. He’s someone that attracts a lot of attention and he can finish as well.”
Jamaica, which lost to Mexico 3-1 in the 2015 final, allowed one goal in the group stage.
“We tried as much as possible to keep a clean sheet,” Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said.
The Canadians also feature 16-year-old Alphonso Davies of the Vancouver Whitecaps. His three goals tied for the most in the group stage.
Jamaica’s defense is anchored by Andre Blake, voted the top goalkeeper in the MLS, where he plays for Philadelphia.
“As much as possible we try to keep a mean defensive team,” Whitmore said.
AP freelance writer Jose Romero contributed to this report.