By DAN KARELL
Mexico’s 1-0 victory over Jamaica on Tuesday night may have convinced fans of El Tri that the team could find goals in difficult road CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.
Instead, all it provided was false hope.
Javier Hernandez limped off with an injury in the second half and Mexico were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw against Panama on Friday in Panama City, El Tri’s third such draw in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign since the start of the Hexagonal round. Also in action in CONCACAF qualifiers, Costa Rica defeated Honduras, 1-0, to go to the top of the Hexagonal table.
Panama’s Blas Perez had his side’s best chance just three minutes after halftime, but his left footed strike on goal in the box lacked power and was saved easily by Mexico goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona.
Mexico struggled to get the ball at the feet of their midfielders and forwards, as central defenders Hector Moreno and Francisco Rodriguez had the ball at their feet along the half-way line for good portions of the match.
In nearby San Jose, Costa Rica, Roy Miller became an instant trivia answer while scoring the game-winning goal against Honduras, leading the Ticos to a 1-0 victory at home.
The New York Red Bulls left back rose highest and sent a looping header over the head of Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares in the 25th minute after a free kick from Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges was parried back into the danger zone by Valladares.
Borges was the key cog in the Ticos attack, making 43 successful passes across the center of the field as well as being the first line of defense when Honduras picked up the ball. Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza had himself a good day but was unable to find teammates Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson in the box with a trademark cross from the left.
The result creates a log-jam at the top of the Hexagonal group, with Mexico, Costa Rica, and the United States all level on seven points. Costa Rica currently leads the U.S. on goal difference, while Mexico sits in third place due to having played one more game than the Ticos and the U.S.
Honduras meanwhile went from the top of the group in mid-March to second from bottom, having failed to win either of their last two matches. Panama slots in at fourth place with six points, just one behind the leaders, while Jamaica remains at the bottom with just two points from five games.
What did you think of Friday’s matches? Do you feel that Mexico is in trouble? Impressed with Costa Rica’s resolve?
Share your thoughts below.