Day 12 – Philly Sports
Concacaf’s latest qualifying window has begun with the just-concluded Game 12. For the most part, the score lines were tame with three draws and one win from the four games played on Thursday night. There hasn’t been too much of a change in the draw, but potential contenders for automatic qualification are starting to play out as a few teams have been officially knocked out of qualifying. Back to the 12th day of the Concacaf Road to Qatar.
On the way to Qatar: 12th day
El Salvador 1-1 Jamaica
In a battle of two teams that are now officially eliminated from qualifying, you took El Salvador to Jamaica to play the Reggae Boyz. Both teams entered this match understanding that their hopes of qualification were over, but still played a lively affair.
MLS veteran Eric Zavaleta started the scoring in the 21st minute on a corner, redirecting a fine header just inside the post and the fingertips of Philadelphia Union stalwart Andre Blake. From there it looked like a quiet game, with Jamaica tying it to a scrum in the box from Andre Gray in the 72n/a minute. It was really the only real action of the game with the final whistle signaling the game to a 1-1 draw.
Panama 1-1 Honduras
In a battle of a team (Honduras) that was officially eliminated against another team that is lagging around the playoff spot (Panama), this was an interesting game. Panama had everything to play for, knowing that a victory would bring them closer to the United States and Mexico who were also playing that night. The match started with all of Panama and it was seen when they scored a solid goal from Rolando Blackburn in the 23rd minute, causing excitement and passion from the home crowd as their team advanced.
For about 40 minutes or so, Panama seemed to have this game on cruise control, creating several chances and keeping Honduras on their toes. However, the Panamanian defense cracked with Honduras scoring a goal in the 65and minute from Kevin Lopez on a header in the box. Panama kept pushing to restore their lead but unfortunately couldn’t find the decisive goal and that game ended in a 1-1 draw, which shook some things up outside of the top three spots.
USA 0-0 Mexico
In a highly anticipated game between two of Concacaf’s fiercest rivals, there were expected to be goals and chances. Unfortunately for the forwards, there were no goals in the game between second-placed USA and third-placed Mexico at one of Concacaf’s most historic grounds, Azteca. Mexico had a few chances, Chucky Lozano carving DeAndre Yedlin up and down the right side of the field, but only managing a few shots directly at Steffen.
On the other side, USA had a number of very solid chances to get ahead, with Yunas Musah missing a shot just inside the box which forced a good save from Memo Ochoa, Christian Pulisic missing a chance just past the net and Ochoa making another save.
The game’s best chance came from second-half substitute Gio Reyna, who played in a nice ball over the top and squared the pass to Jordan Pefok, who completely missed the ball and sent it back towards the line of key. The United States will be happy to take a point from the Azteca, but some fans will wonder if there were two more points on the table in a game that saw both teams stay in their respective positions.
Costa Rica 1-0 Canada
In the most shocking result of the night, Canada traveled to Costa Rica to face a Costa Rican team keen to stay in the race for qualification. The match got off to an extremely interesting start, with Mark-Anthony Kaye seeing two yellow cards in the first 34 minutes and 20 minutes apart, leaving Canada down to one man for the rest of the game.
Costa Rica took advantage of the opportunity to be a man with Celso Borges netting a header from inside the box on a nice cross from a free-kick opportunity and put the home side ahead 1- 0, which they wouldn’t back down on and stick to finishing with a solid victory. This victory, combined with Panama’s draw against Honduras, saw Los Ticos jump over Panama by one point to qualify for the playoffs.
Day 13 is Sunday!
Day 12 of the Concacaf Road to Qatar wasn’t exactly the most interesting day we’ve seen, but it did start to create an interesting picture with the remaining teams in contention for qualifying. As it stands, this is how the table shakes:
- Canada – 25 points
- USA – 22 points (plus on goal difference)
- Mexico-22 points
- Costa Rica – 19 points
- Panama – 18 points
As we can see, with two games to go, anything goes in the qualifying picture here at Concacaf. Let’s see how the road to Qatar continues on Days 13 and 14!
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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire