Four games and Canada unbeaten in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, turning heads and raising hopes.
Canada’s men leveled Mexico 1-1 on a goal from Jonathan Osorio on Thursday, picking up a valuable away point against a top-ranked team in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Canadian men have taken their bales at Azteca Stadium in the past. But John Harderman’s young side, despite missing a few key pieces, showed in the first half and parts of the second that it could keep up with the CONCACAF powerhouse, as good as it got and on sometimes hostile ground.
“We wanted three points. I am satisfied with this point but at the same time I think there was an opportunity to take three,” Herdman said. We could have taken three points.”
History was against it.
Osorio’s goal was Canada’s first in 41 years at the Azteca against Mexico. Canada Soccer Hall of Famer Gerry Gray scored in the 87th minute to level Canada 1–1 in the World Cup qualifiers in November 1980. The Canadian men were 0-6-1 all-time against Mexico at the Azteca and were outscored. 16-0 there in the last four games dating back to July 1993.
Times have changed, it seems.
In the second match on Thursday, the United States defeated Jamaica 2-0 in Austin, Costa Rica 0-0, Honduras 0-0, and El Salvador beat Panama 1-0 in San Salvador.
The results left the Americans atop the CONCACAF round-robin on goal difference, with both teams at 2-0-2 with eight points. Canada (1-0-3) is in third place, one point ahead of Panama (1-0-2).
The Canadians will take on number 59 Jamaica in Kingston on Sunday and next Wednesday they will take on number 68 Panama at Toronto’s BMO Field.
Come March, after the remaining eight teams have played 14 matches, the top three finishers in the CONCACAF final qualifying will book their tickets to Qatar 2022. The fourth-placed team will compete in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.
The Canadian men have not made the final round of qualifying in the region since leading France ’98’.
With a 1-1 draw at the break, Mexico came strong in the second half, which was halted in the 59th minute for offensive fan chants. The competition was originally supposed to be played behind closed doors as a punishment for such behavior in the past, but FIFA cut the sanction in half to one game, meaning fans were allowed inside.
After a similar start, Mexico advanced in the 22nd minute when Chucky Lozano found Jorge Sanchez behind the defense; the Mexican fullback controlled the ball with his right foot and then shot with his left, pushing the ball past Maxim Crepue’s feet. shipped through
The game began with Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa at the other end of the field. Three passes later, Lozano had the ball in front of the Canadian penalty box and saw Sanchez, who raised his hand behind fullback Richie Laria.
Osorio beat Ochoa with a throw-in in the 42nd minute to take a slide-rule pass from Alfonso Davies, which cut off four Mexican defenders. Osorio controlled the ball and then put it in the corner for his seventh goal for Canada.
“That goal, to be honest, it’s all fonzi,” Osorio said. “He deserves the credit. He’s our star player and he shows up every now and then. And with the amount of pressure he gets, it’s hard to do that.”
The Toronto FC midfielder is no stranger to goals at Azteca, scoring in a 1-1 draw with Club America in April 2018 that moved MLS to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Final.
The Osorio strike at the famous stadium was also Canada’s first goal since Alex Bunbury against Martinique in the 1993 Gold Cup.
It was 20-year-old Davis’ 14th career assist for Canada, breaking the national team record set earlier this year by Junior Hoylet.
Canada entered the match against Mexico in the senior game from 1957 with a 4–20–8 record. Canada was 1–12–7 against Mexico in a World Cup qualifying game, with the only victory coming in October 1976 in Vancouver.
Canada and Mexico last met in the Gold Cup semi-finals in late July, with the Mexican needing a 99th-minute goal for a 2–1 win in Houston.
Canada was without veteran goalkeeper Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), who is recovering from COVID-19, as well as captain Atiba Hutchinson and forward Syl Larin (both Besiktas, Turkey) and striker Lukas Cavallini (Vancouver). whitecaps) which are recovering. from injury. Hopefully he can join the team at a later window.
Canada Soccer has previously said Hoillet (Reading, England) and midfielder David Woderspoon (St Johnstone, Scotland) will meet with the team in Jamaica ahead of the weekend’s match against the Reggae Boys in order to avoid the quarantine Mexico visitors must undergo. On his return to Britain.
The Canadians came into the opening 11 matches with a combined 219 caps, along with 44 people belonging to Osorio. Six of those initiating were 24 years of age or younger.
Steven Vittoria captained the team in Hutchinson’s absence.
A hard shot from Laria in the 15th minute after a combination with Davies of Toronto FC fullback Ochoa gave Ochoa the best opening scoring opportunity, went down the left flank and then went inside. The rebound came from Tajon Buchanan, who raised his shot.
Four minutes later, Mexico came close when Lozano shot high after a counter-attack triggered by a turnover from Marc-Anthony.
Buchanan and Davis, both speedsters, nearly combined in the 31st minute when Buchanan left several Mexicans in his dust and swung through the box in a wonderfully low cross. A flamboyant Davis gave the ball a leg at the far post, but could not get it to the target.
Canada threatened again in the 40th when Ochoa made a reflex saving Vitoria’s close-range header from a Stefan Eustaquio free kick.
Crepue and Lozano became embroiled at the start of the second half as the Canadians’ keeper tried to deliver the ball but cooler heads prevailed.
In the 56th minute, when Jesus Corona kicked out Laria, there was even more hesitation after both of them went down near the Canadian penalty box. El Salvador referee Ismail Cornejo showed both players yellow cards, meaning Larias would be suspended for the Jamaica game after taking a second precaution.
Soon Corona tested Crepue at a nearby post after a Mexican throw-in.
Canadian defender Alistair Johnson came close to his own goal in the 64th but his clearing header bounced off the crossbar, keeping the ball away from the waiting Raul Jimenez.
Jimenez scored in his 66th goal in his first international since breaking a skull bone while playing for England’s Wolves last November, but the goal was revoked for a foul.
Herdman defeated Sam Adecugbe, Liam Fraser and Liam Miller in triple change in the 77th minute. Charles-Andreas Briam is late for his fourth Canadian cap.
Canada first tied the US and Honduras and defeated El Salvador.
It is the first time since 1980 that Canada has earned results (both draws) against Mexico and the United States in the same World Cup qualifying round.