The Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers are approaching their end. Things are starting to take shape, and teams are solidifying their places. Matchday 11 marked the fourth-to-last match to determine who would automatically qualify or make the playoff spot for the Men’s World Cup; Qatar 2022.
Raod to Qatar: Matchday 11
The matchups for matchday 11 saw The USA take on last place Honduras in frigid conditions, first place Canada head down to barely hanging on El Salvador, Jamaica host Costa Rica to keep their Qatar hopes alive, and Mexico play Panama in a pivotal match that could turn the tides of the standings. Let’s look at each of the four matches and see where the nations stand at the end of this window!
USMNT freeze out Honduras 3-0
The USMNT played last place and already eliminated Honduras in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The temperature at game time was two degrees Fahrenheit, and it made the game difficult for both teams. The USA proved to be better at handling these elements as they relied on set pieces to get goals. Weston McKennied headed one home in the 8th minute, Walker Zimmerman smashed home another one in the 37th, and second-half sub Christian Pulisic benefited from a corner that fell to him. All three balls were served in by Kellyn Acosta, who was seen by many as the man of the match.
Unfortunately, Honduras was never really in this game. Two of their players had to be subbed at halftime because they were dealing with hypothermia. The already-eliminated side was no match for the elements or the USMNT’s possession that led to the set-piece opportunities.
The USA stays second in the standings, while Honduras is still in last place in the Octagonal.
Canada dominant once again in 2-0 victory over El Salvador
Down in El Salvador, Canada looked to get nine points off nine from this three-game window. Canada has a specific style; sit deep and counter. They did this in Honduras, and against the USA in their previous two games and won 2-0. This game was more of the same. El Salvador did well to stifle Canada for 65 minutes of the match, but then the craziest goal was scored.
Atiba Hutchinson had his diving attempt hit the post, bounce back toward him, hit off his backside, and loop over the El Salvadoran keeper to go in. That’s how Canada got their first goal, and they then got the dagger in second-half stoppage time. Jonathan David intercepted a pass after an El Salvador corner and ran the length of the field and then chipped the keeper to make the game 2-0.
Canada is one step closer to Qatar, still in the first place; while El Salvador would have to win out and have other drop points just to make the fourth-place playoff spot in the Octagonal.
Mexico find late winning goal to beat Panama
Mexico is used to being the top team in Concacaf. However, over the last year, the USA and Canada have surged past the region’s giants. Mexico came into their final match of this qualifying window playing fourth-place team, Panama. Panama could leap over Mexico with a win, and given Mexico’s recent record, this seemed like a possibility in this pivotal match.
The game was fairly even as both looked to possess the ball and pass through one another. Mexico was the better team in terms of chance creation, but couldn’t find a goal from the run of play. This one looked destined to end 0-0, but luckily Mexico won a penalty. In the 80th minute, Raul Jiménez stepped up and slotted home a penalty that would give Mexico all three points.
The result helped Mexico go four points clear of Panama heading into the final three matches; while Panama is holding firm at the moment in fourth place.
Jamaica officially eliminted from Qatar 2022 with loss to Costa Rica
Jamaica hosted Costa Rica on matchday 11. This one showcased two teams going in opposite directions. Jamaica has been in the majority of the matches they’ve played but seems to always slip up in the most important moments. Costa Rica started their qualifying slowly, but over their last three matches, they took seven points out of nine and only allowed one goal. This match showed that these trends continued.
Thing’s looked okay for Jamaica as goalkeeper Andre Blake saved a penalty to keep them in the match in the 61st minute. However, just one minute later Costa Rica found the game’s only goal as Joel Campbell scored. The goal doomed Jamaica but continued Costa Rica’s impressive recent run of form.
The goal helped Costa Rica stay in contention for the top four, while the loss for Jamaica meant they were mathematically eliminated from qualifying for Qatar 2022.
The final three matchdays are in March!
With Matchday 11 in the books, there’s a clear break in the teams. Canada, the USA, and Mexico are the top three teams. Panama and Costa Rica are within a point of one another for fourth place. El Salvador needs to win out and hopes that other teams drop points just to make the playoff. Jamaica and Honduras are officially eliminated. Now there are three games left in the octagonal qualifying cycle. The final window of games will be held in March, we’ll get to see things take their final form then. Here’s a look at the matches.
- Thursday, March 24
- Costa Rica vs Canada
- Jamaica vs El Salvador
- Mexico vs USA
- Panama vs Honduras
- Sunday, March 27
- Canada vs Jamaica
- El Salvador vs Costa Rica
- Honduras vs Mexico
- USA vs Panama
- Wednesday, March 30
- Costa Rica vs USA
- Jamaica vs Honduras
- Mexico vs El Salvador
- Panama vs Canada
Will Canada win the Octagonal? Can the USA and Mexico hang on to the other auto-qualifying spots? Will Panama or Costa Rica push further up the standings? We’ll see in about seven weeks!
Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union and other soccer content!
Follow our Union team on Twitter:
Doop on Union fans!