Just when you thought the U.S. Under-23 national team had problems with Olympic Qualifying comes the story of Mexico, which will now head into its third qualifying match with just one point from two matches.
Mexico’s Under-23 team lost to Guatemala on Friday night, 2-1, at Home Depot Center. The result helped Guatemala secure a berth in the semifinals and pushes the Central Americans within a tie or Haiti tie or loss from securing first place in Group B.
As for Mexico, it blew a lead and watched Guatemala outplay them in the second half. All of a sudden, Mexico has to worry about even reaching the semifinals rather than trying to win the group and avoid the United States in the all-important semifinal.
And you know what is arguably the best part about Mexico’s loss on Friday night? Mexico’s only goal came courtesy of American born and raised left back Edgar Castillo, who netted the opening goal in the fifth minute. Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez must have been proud.
The interesting part about the developments in Group B of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying is the fact that Mexico has looked very far from dominant and rather ordinary in its two matches. Yes, there have been flashes of quality attacking play, but both Canada and Guatemala stood toe to toe with a pretty stacked Mexican squad, with the likes of Guillermo Ochoa, Cesar Villaluz and Luis Landin.
At this point I really wonder if the U.S. team should be worried about being matched up against Mexico. As good as Guatemala looked tonight I’m not sure if they are necessarily an easier opponent. Sure, there is the threat of being eliminated by Mexico, but there is also the potential to exact revenge for the Americans being eliminated by Mexico in the last Olympic qualifying campaign in 2004.
What I really wonder is if Hugo Sanchez could lose his job if Mexico failed to qualify for the Olympics. He’s not on the best footing as Mexican national team head coach and a failure to even get out of the group stage, much less a semifinal loss to the United States after a poor group stage showing, might be enough to get him the boot.
What do you think of Mexico’s shocking loss on Friday? Are you stunned? Overjoyed? Are you a U.S. fan who suddenly feels a little better about your team? Share your thoughts below.