By JOEY SAMUEL
The field competing for CONCACAF's spots at the 2012 Summer Olympics is officially set.
Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba each recorded the results they needed Monday night to advance out of Caribbean qualifying and earn the final two spots in the 2012 CONCACAF Pre-Olympic Tournament.
North American nations Canada, Mexico, and the United States were each awarded automatic berths into the eight-team Olympic qualifying tournament.
In September, El Salvador and Honduras each won their respective three-team groups to qualify directly. Then, Panama outlasted Costa Rica over two legs in a matchup of the second-placed teams from those three-team groups to earn the third spot out of Central America.
Monday, Trinidad & Tobago thrashed Suriname, 9-1, while Cuba earned a 1-1 draw with St. Kitts & Nevis to round out the field. Cuba finished first, while Trinidad & Tobago finished second in a four-team group in the second round of Caribbean qualifying. Each team in that four-team group had already won a four-team (or in Cuba's case, three-team) group of their own in the first round.
While the draw to create two four-team groups hasn't yet taken place, the field is now set:
Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, United States.
For reference, the 2008 edition of the CONCACAF Pre-Olympic Tournament held its draw on Feb. 25.
The tournament, which features U-23 sides only, will take place from March 22 to April 2. The United States will host the event. One first-round group will be held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., while the other will take place in Nashville, Tenn., at LP Field.
The final, as well as the all-important semifinal round during which the two CONCACAF teams that advance to the Olympics will be determined, will be played at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City.
What are your thoughts on this eight-team field? Do you see the United States having difficulty qualifying for the Olympics? Do you see a team other than Mexico and the United States advancing?
Share your thoughts below.