The last window of Concacaf qualifying has gotten underway with matchup 12 having just been completed. For the most part, the score lines were tame with three draws and one win among the four games played on Thursday night. There was not too much of a shift in the table, but the possible contenders for automatic qualification are starting to play out while a few teams got officially eliminated from qualifying. Let’s take a look at the Concacaf Road to Qatar matchday 12.
Road to Qatar: Matchday 12
El Salvador 1-1 Jamaica
In a battle of two teams that are now officially eliminated from qualifying, you had El Salvador travel over to Jamaica to play the Reggae Boyz. Both teams came into this game understanding that their qualification hopes were over but still played a spirited affair.
MLS vet Eric Zavaleta got the scoring started in the 21st minute off a corner kick, redirecting a beautiful header just inside the post and off the fingertips of Philadelphia Union stalwart Andre Blake. From then on, it seemed like a quiet game, with Jamaica tying it off a scramble in the box from Andre Gray in the 72nd minute. This was truly the only real action of the game with the final whistle calling this game at a 1-1 draw.
Panama 1-1 Honduras
In a battle of one team (Honduras) that was officially eliminated versus another team that is hanging around the playoff spot (Panama), this was an interesting game. Panama had everything to play for, knowing that a win would pull them close to USA and Mexico who were also playing that night. The game started off all Panama and it showed as they scored a solid goal from Rolando Blackburn in the 23rd minute, causing the home crowd to erupt in excitement and passion as their side went ahead.
For about the next 40 minutes or so, Panama seemed like they had this game on cruise control, creating several chances and keeping Honduras on their toes. However, the Panamanian defense cracked with Honduras getting a goal in the 65th minute from Kevin Lopez off a header in the box. Panama kept pushing to restore their lead but unfortunately could not find the go-ahead goal and this game ended in a 1-1 draw, which did shake some things up outside the top three spots.
USA 0-0 Mexico
In a highly anticipated matchup between two of the fiercest rivals in Concacaf, it was expected that there would be some goals and some chances. Unfortunately for the attack-minded folks, there were no goals in the matchup between the second-place USA and third place Mexico from one of the most historic grounds in all of Concacaf, the Azteca. Mexico did have some chances, Chucky Lozano carving DeAndre Yedlin up and down the right-hand side of the pitch, but only managing a few shots right at Steffen.
On the other side, the US had a number of very solid chances to put themselves ahead, with Yunas Musah flubbing a shot from just inside the box, which forced a good save from Memo Ochoa, Christian Pulisic mishitting a chance right in front of the net and Ochoa making another save.
The best chance of the game came from second-half substitute Gio Reyna, who got played in a nice ball over the top and squared the pass to Jordan Pefok, who proceeded to completely mishit the ball and send it back towards the sideline. The US will be happy to take a point from the Azteca, but some fans will wonder if two additional points were left 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 down to Costa Rica to face a Costa Rican side that was eager to stay in the hunt for qualification. The game got off to an extremely interesting start, with Mark-Anthony Kaye seeing two yellow cards in the first 34 minutes and within 20 minutes of each other, leaving Canada down a man for the rest of the game.
Costa Rica took advantage of the man-up opportunity with Celso Borges slotting home a header from inside the box off a nice cross on a set-piece opportunity and putting the home side up 1-0, which they would not relent on and kept to finish with a solid victory. This victory, combined with Panama’s draw against Honduras, saw Los Ticos vault over Panama by one point into the playoff spot.
Matchday 13 is on Sunday!
The Concacaf Road to Qatar matchday 12 was not truly the most interesting matchday we have seen, but it has started to create an interesting picture with the teams left in qualifying contention. At the current state, here is how the table is shaking out:
- Canada- 25 points
- USA- 22 points (up 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 in Concacaf. Let’s see how the Road to Qatar continues on in matchdays 13 and 14!
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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire