Finalists Mexico and Honduras qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer
By: Emmanuel Mendez
The postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020 will take place this summer and only two countries in the North American region can qualify a place in the men’s soccer tournament. The CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament started on the 18th of March, with expectations and eyes on the two favorites to qualify, Mexico and the United States.
The tournament was short with two groups of four teams. Mexico was in Group A, the same group with the U.S., along with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The second group, Group B, had Honduras, Canada, El Salvador, and Haiti.
The teams that finished first and second in their respective groups advance to the semifinals and the winners of those semifinals, the finalists, qualify to Tokyo. In Group A, Mexico and the U.S were very dominant over Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Mexico defeated the Dominican Republic 4-1 and defeated Costa Rica 3-0. The U.S. beat Costa Rica 1-0 and beat the Dominican Republic with a score of 4-0. Mexico and the U.S. encounter ended in a 1-0 win for Mexico. Both teams advanced to the semifinals.
In Group B, Honduras and Canada were the teams to advance in the semifinals. Honduras beat Haiti 3-0 but drew against El Salvador. Canada beat El Salvador 2-0 but drew against Haiti in a 0-0 game.
Honduras and Canada drew against each other in a 1-1 game, and it was enough for both teams to qualify to the semifinals. El Salvador was one point away from securing a spot at a semifinal place.
In the Semifinals, the U.S. played against Honduras and Mexico took on Canada. The surprise of the tournament occurred in the U.S. game as they lost 2-1 to Honduras and missed out on the Olympics. This is the third cycle of qualifications where the U.S has failed to qualify for the Olympics.
The last time the U.S men’s soccer team took part in the Olympics was back in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Meanwhile, Honduras has been consistent in qualifying for the Olympics since 2008. In the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, Honduras finished fourth place.
They will look on to do even better in this year’s Olympics.
Mexico defeated Canada 2-0 and also qualified for the Olympics, for the third consecutive time. Mexico won the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London, England.
They will look to replicate that win again after not getting out their group in the last Olympics in 2016. The two qualified teams Mexico and Honduras played the final of this qualifying tournament.
The game was very close, with many opportunities from each team. No goals were scored in the first half.
In the second half, Honduras would score first thanks to a long-range shot by Edwin Rodriguez in the 71st minute. Nine minutes later, a penalty was called in favor of Mexico after a controversial foul by Jose Garcia on Jose Juan Macias.
Macias would score the penalty and make the score 1-1. The game would go to extra time.
At the extra time, both teams continued to create chances, but the score remained the same. That meant the game went to penalty kicks.
Honduras would go first, and the first penalty kick was saved by Mexican goalkeeper, Sebastian Jurado. After that, both teams didn’t miss their penalty kicks.
Mexico`s striker Alexis Vega scored the penalty kick that won Mexico the tournament.
Both teams did well in the game and throughout the tournament. Mexico and Honduras look like two solid teams to represent the North American region.