Photo by ISIphotos.com
By BRYAN ROBISON
While Jamaica's win over the United States garnered much of the headlines on Friday, there were plenty of other intriguing World Cup qualifying match-ups that took place in CONCACAF.
The most signifcant was Canada's win over Panama at BMO Field in Toronto. Dwayne De Rosario became the all-time leading scorer in Canadian history, notching his 20th career goal to lift Canada to a 1-0 win over Panama. De Rosario surpassed former striker and manager of the Canada national team, Dale Mitchell. The milestone comes just weeks after De Rosario notched his 100th career MLS goal.
Panama came into the night leading Group C and looking to put a tight clinch on first place, as the top two teams in each group advance to the next round. However, Canada held strong throughout the night, concluding with De Rosario's winner in the 77th minute. The goal came off of a quick free kick attempt, as Panama was slow to react to the shot and allowed an unmarked De Rosario to knock in the lone goal.
Panama fought back, coming incredibly close to tying it up in the final moments of the match. They came closest to equalizing on a Roman Torres shot which was just inches to the left of the post.
With the win, Canada takes over the lead in Group C with seven points and Panama now has six. The two sides will face off again in Panama City on Tuesday evening.
Here is a rundown of the rest of Friday's CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches:
HONDURAS TOO MUCH FOR CUBA
Despite a strong showing in the Olympics in London, Honduras had a poor start to their World Cup qualifying, registering just one point in their first two matches against Panama and Canada, respectively. They failed to find the net in both matches. But on Friday, Honduras found the net, and often, against Cuba.
Much like earlier in the summer, when MLS was representing very well for Los Catrachos, they were on full display on Saturday night, as three MLS players scored for Honduras in the 3-0 victory.
The San Jose Earthquakes were represented on two of them, as Victor Bernadez and Marvin Chavez both scored for the visiting Hondurans. Opening the scoring was the star of the Olympics, Jerry Bengtson, of the New England Revolution. Bengtson scored all three goals for Honduras in the Olympics, and he continued that strong form for his national club last night.
Cuba did not stand much of a chance thanks to the Honduras offensive onslaught, essentially eliminiating their hopes of advancing past group stage.
The two clubs will square off again on Tuesday night in San Pedro Sula on Tuesday night.
MEXICO WINS THIRD CONSECUTIVE ROAD MATCH, DEFEATING COSTA RICA 2-0
While much of the discussion going into the match was whether Chicharito would start for El Tri, that was moved to the side as the long-time international started at forward along with Oribe Peralta. Neither one made an overly significant impact, though, as it was the midfield that was the star group for the offense on the night.
Despite missing Giovanni dos Santos due to injury, Mexico had no trouble creating offense throughout the match, as they took on a Costa Rican club looking to overtake the lead in Group B.
That would not happen, as Mexico took over the match with the opening score from Carlos Salcido in the 43rd minute. From there, Costa Rica was unable to mount a comeback. That comeback window seemingly closed early in the second half with a Jesus Zavala goal in the 52nd minute.
With the loss, Costa Rica failed to gain a point, but held on to second place in Group B. They will hold a daunting task on Tuesday if they look to earn a point, as they will travel to Estadio Azteca for the second of two matches in Mexico City on Tuesday.
GUYANA AND EL SALVADOR FIGHT TO 2-2 DRAW
Despite going into Friday night conceding seven goals in two matches, Guyana was able to manage a point out of last night's match with El Salvador in San Salvador.
The man of the match for Guyana was 19-year old Treyon Bobb, who was making just his second appearance for the club. The midfielder scored both goals for Guyana, showing manager Jamaal Shabazz made the correct decision to start the teenager.
For El Salvador, it was a disappointing result, as the they had a chance to move into second place in Group B thanks to the Costa Rica loss to Mexico. Now, they will face a tough schedule for the three remaining group matches in order to make it to the hexagonal stage of qualifying, as they will travel to Providence, Guyana to take on Guyana again on Tuesday. They will then take on second place Costa Rica and first place Mexico next month to conclude group play.
GUATEMALA OVERPOWER ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
On a waterlogged field (and that could be an understatement) in Guatemala City, the host nation proved too strong for the visiting side, as Carlos Ruiz scored a brace in the dominant win on Friday.
Play was sluggish throughout the night, as any consistent offense was hampered thanks to the field, which featured over a dozen large puddles. Even so, El Pescadito was able to score twice, as Ruiz made an impact, despite not having played for a club all season. He notched his 51st and 52nd career goals for Guatemala, continuing his successful year for his home country, having scored seven goals in 2012.
The pivotal win comes on the heels of the surprising draw against the United States in June, as Guatemala is now even with Americans in the Group A standings. Both are even with 4 points and a +1 goal differential.
The Guatemalans will now travel to North Sound for the second match with Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday night.
Group A Standings
1. Jamaica (2-1-0, 7 points, +2 GD)
2. United States (1-1-1, 4 points, +1 GD)
3. Guatemala (1-1-1, 4 points, +1 GD)
4. Antigua and Barbuda (0-1-2, 1 point, -4 GD)
Group B Standings
1. Mexico (3-0-0, 9 points, +5 GD)
2. Costa Rica (1-1-1, 4 points, +2 GD)
3. El Salvador (0-2-1, 2 points, -1 GD)
4. Guyana (0-1-2, 1 point, -6 GD)
Group C Standings
1. Canada (2-1-0, 7 points, +2 GD)
2. Panama (2-0-1, 6 points, +2 GD)
3. Honduras (1-1-1, 4 points, +1 GD)
4. Cuba (0-0-3, 0 points, -5 GD)
What are your thoughts on the results? Surprised by Canada and their performance so far in group play? Will El Salvador be able to come back from the draw? How worried should the Americans be about Guatemala in Group A?
Share your thoughts below.