The Mexican U-23 team earned an automatic berth in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and a spot in the final of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament with a 2-0 win against Canada. With the victory in this afternoon’s semifinal, Mexico has the chance to defend the gold medal they earned in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Mexico set the tone of this match early on, with Erick “Cubo” Torres giving El Tri the lead in just the 5th minute of the match when he headed home a cross from Hirving Lozano.
Lozano himself would go on to score Mexico’s second in the 56th minute after he pounced on a poor clearance by Sam Piette. Mexico had a number of chances to run up the score, with Lozano, Torres, and Marco Bueno all having opportunities.
Canada’s best chance of the game came in the 78th minute, when Erick Aguirre was called for a handball in the box. Michael Petrasso stepped up to take the penalty kick, but Manuel Lajud was able to make the save and preserve the shutout. Then, in the waning moments, Skylar Thomas sent his header against the crossbar.
Overall, Canada hardly threatened, with Mexico earning 66% of possession and outshooting the Canadians 19-6. The one blotch on the afternoon for the Mexicans was an apparent injury to Cubo Torres that forced him out of the game in the 68th minute.
Mexico will now face Honduras in the final on Tuesday, while Canada will face the U.S. in a third-place match that same day. The winner of that match will have one last chance to earn an Olympic berth as they square off against Colombia in an intercontinental playoff.
Mexico: Manuel Lajud, Carlos Salcedo, Rodolfo Pizarro, Erick Aguirre, Jordan Silva, Erick Gutiérrez, Raúl López (Arturo González 45′), Víctor Guzmán, Erick Torres (Daniel Álvarez 68′), Marco Bueno, Hirving Lozano (Luis Loroña 81′).
Canada: Maxime Crepeau, Jackson Farmer, Skylar Thomas, Luca Gasparotto, Mauro Antunes (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 82′), Jay Chapman, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, Sam Piette, Michael Petrasso, Benjamin Fisk-Routledge (Caleb Clarke 63′), Hanson Boakai (Jonathan Grant 70′).