CARSON, Calif -- With only pride on the line, Mexico took the pitch against Panama at The Home Depot Center and both teams played like there was nothing at stake. 0-0 for most of the match, Mexico didn't break through until stoppage time to win the match 1-0 and go 3-0-0 through the group stages. Mexico will face Canada in the semi-finals in Kansas City.
Erick Torres was the man to finally break through for Mexico, with a stoppage time goal that gave the 10,061 in attendance something to cheer for finally. Jeronimo Amione brought down a cross from in the box, and laid the ball out for Erick Torres right in front of goal who smashed it into the back of the net.
The first half was uneventful, with Mexico trotting out a sub-optimal side and Panama having nothing to play for. There were some good chances, but no urgency to finish them. Of some note is Miguel Ponce, who was born in California and plays for Guadalajara, getting the start tonight at left back. Otherwise, it was a fairly listless first half.
Marco Fabian, a long established played at Guadalajara, came on an hour into the match confusing many. His presence had been missed, but with qualifying assured it just didn't seem necessary.
Mexico finished with a +10 goal differential, easily the best in the tournament. Victory over Canada will see the team through to the Olympics, after not making it out of the group stage in 2008.
Panama and Mexico took an equal number of shots, but Panama was much better at hitting the target tonight with only one shot off target.
Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago faced off in the early match at The Home Depot Center, with Honduras moving on to the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Semi-Finals with the final score 2-0. With the Honduran win, the Group B participants are locked in as Mexico and Honduras.
The United States suffered their latest in a series of recent setbacks, drawing to El Salvador tonight resulting in elimination from the Olympic Qualifying tournament. Canada drew against Cuba in the first Group A match tonight, which meant the US could win the group with a victory of El Salvador. However, a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time took victory out of the hands of the US and gave the group to El Salvador with Canada finishing second.
Last year, the US U-20 squad failed to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Many players on that squad were on the U-23 roster, a team that exists mostly for the Olympic games. Most of the additions were MLS players, such as the LA Galaxy'sMichael Stephens who came in late in tonight's match.
The match between the US and El Salvador ended 3-3; with Brek Shea, Terrence Boyd, and Joe Corona scoring for the US. El Salvador and Canada both finish with five points, to the US' 4. Canada will face the winner of Group B, with El Salvador facing the runner up.
That Group B winner will be Mexico, baring the extremely unlikely scenario of Honduras scoring 11 goals tomorrow which Mexico doesn't score any. Honduras is still in the driver's seat for the runner up spot in the group, but Trinidad and Tobago could take it with a win over Honduras tomorrow.
CARSON, Cailf -- Mexico U-23s defeated Honduras U-23s today at The Home Depot Center in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, with the final score 3-0. With the victory, Mexico advances to the semi-finals of the tournament. With Panama and Trinidad & Tobago drawing in the earlier match, Mexico clinches first place in the group. They'll face the runner up in Group A.
Mexico advanced on a hat trick by Alan Pulido, striker for Tigres UNAL. The first two goals came in the first half, the first one from the right side inside the box after mishandling the initial pass. The a second was a golazo, head on from outside the box. The third came again inside the box, with Pulido once again showing he was right right choice for striker today.
Honduras are still in a good position to finish runner up in Group B. Technically, no one has been eliminated from the group yet, as Panama or Trinidad and Tobago could advance with a victory on the last day.
Over in Group A, Cuba has been eliminated, but the other two teams are still active. The USA and El Salvador will face off tomorrow, likely for the right for the right to face Mexico in the Semi-finals. The scenarios are complicated, but it would be some feat for Cuba to advance with a -10 goal differential after two matches.