The Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers are entering their end game now. Matchday 10 marked that there were five matches remaining for teams to solidify themselves in a top-three spot or push for the playoff spot in fourth place. Who made significant moves, and who took steps in the wrong direction? Here’s a look back at Concacaf’s Raod to Qatar: Matchday 10
Road to Qatar: Matchday 10
Matchday 10 saw teams that sat at one and two in the standings go head to in Canada and the USA. Panama looked to bounce back after a bad loss against a Jamaica side fighting to stay alive in qualification. Mexico, who sat in third, and Costa Rica, who sat in fifth, met looking to raise their place on the table. El Salvador and Honduras, who both sit at the bottom of the table met to see who could keep their qualification hopes alive. Let’s take a look at all four of these matches to see how things played out.
Canada show dominance in 2-0 win over USA
Canada has a true style of play; defend and counter. The USA knows how they want to play, but it lacks heart and the play reflected this. Canada came out early and won the ball in midfield, made two passes, and was in on goal. Cyle Larin slotted home the chance. It was 1-0 in the 7th minute before the USA could even blink.
The remainder of the match was the USA holding the ball, but not creating much with it. They were very stagnant, which allowed Canada to repel them for 90 minutes. To add insult to injury for the USA, Canada hit another picture-perfect counter in the 90+5 minute where Sam Adekugbe fired home a goal to make the scoreline 2-0.
Canada is the best team in the region, who beat the second-best team (USA) without two of their normal starts and some would say best players on the team (Alphonso Davies and Stephen Eustaquio.) They are all but qualified for Qatar 2022, while the USMNT is in a three-team race for the two remaining auto-qualification spots.
Panama edge Jamaica 3-2
One of those three teams in the race for an auto-qualifying spot is Panama. They took a tough loss to Costa Rica earlier in the week and were looking for a bounce-back game against Jamaica. Jamaica has been a team on the fringe of getting some crucial points for most qualifiers, this one would prove to be the same old story for them.
Jamaica got an early lead thanks to a Michail Antonio penalty; their star goalkeeper Andre Blake stopped a Panamanian PK, and things looked up for the Reggae Boyz. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get out of their own way; an own goal gifted Panama the momentum heading to halftime. After that Panama came alive scoring two goals in the second half. Andre Gray pulled one back for Jamaica late on but it was too late.
With their loss, Jamaica falls to second to last place and would need a miracle to even get up to the fourth place playoff spot with only four games remaining. Panama did bounce back in their 3-2 win. They are now just one point behind Mexico and the USA and have a four-point cushion over Costa Rica for the fourth-place playoff spot.
Mexico drop points at home in draw to Costa Rica
Mexico and Costa Rica met at the Estadio Azteca in a game crucial to both. Mexico knew that the USA had dropped points and could leap over them to take second place with a win. Costa Rica wanted to build off of their victory over Panama and continue to push for that playoff qualification spot.
This match went as many predicted on the pitch. Mexico held the majority of the ball and looked to pass it around to find a way through Costa Rica’s defense. Costa Rica looked to defend first and then use their veteran attack to hit on the counter. Both teams executed their style of play, but it didn’t translate to any real attacking sequences and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.
Both Mexico and Costa Rica take one point from this one. It’ll be seen as a good result for Costa Rica, but a terrible one for Mexico. Costa Rica stays in striking distance of fourth place. Mexico stays in third with a very difficult match against Panama next.
Honduras officially eliminated in loss to El Salvador
Coming into matchday 10, Honduras and El Salvador were the two teams at the bottom of the octagonal. Honduras, once a giant in Concacaf, has fallen off in this most recent cycle of World Cup Qualification. El Salvador came into their house and had a rather convincing win.
El Salvador loves to sit back and hit on the counter attack. They pick and choose their moments to push forward well, and while that doesn’t always lead to goals, it did in this match. A goal late in the first half swung the momentum their way, and a dagger in the 90+2 minute ended any hopes for Honduras to seek out a draw.
El Salvador’s win meant they jumped from second to last, to eight points out of the playoff place. They still have everything to play for in their final four matches. Unfortunately with the loss, Honduras is officially eliminated from qualification to Qatar 2022. With four matches to play, they’ll likely have little motivation other than to play spoiler.
Matchday 11 is Wednesday
There is now a clear gap between the top team, Canada, and the teams chasing, USA, Mexico, and Panama. Costa Rica continues to stay in the conversation for the fourth-place playoff spot. El Salvador and Jamaica are clinging to hope for the playoff spot, but it’s a long shot for them at this point. Honduras is the only team eliminated so far, and with four matches still to play. That being said there is the third game of this current international window slated for this coming Wednesday; here are the matches:
- Jamaica vs Costa Rica
- USA vs Honduras
- El Salvador vs Canada
- Mexico vs Panama
Could we see even more movement in the standings? Will Canada continue to dominate the region? Will the USA bounce back from a tough loss? Can Costa Rica continue to rise up the table while ending Jamaica’s hopes? Will Mexico get back to winning ways, or could Panama jump them for third place? Tune in on Wednesday night to find out!
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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire