It was an exciting week of action for CONCACAF, so when the Quarter-finals rolled around we knew we were in for a treat. Here were my predictions, and here’s what happened:
Haiti 3-2 Canada
When Lucas Cavallini put in a goal in just the 28th minute, it seemed Canada had won. Canada now had a two-goal lead, Haiti hadn’t scored, and Canada’s star offense still had 62 minutes to score the goal to put the game away. The game went into the half with Canada winning, 2-0, but Haiti came out in the second half looking determined. Haiti made it 2-1 with a goal in the 50th minute by Duckens Nazon, and a PK was earned by Haiti in the 70th minute, which was scored by Herve Bazile to tie it at 2-2. A volleyed goal by Wilde-Donald Guerrier broke the tie, making it 3-2, Haiti. Canada subbed on Ashtone Morgan to try to tie things back up but to no avail. Haiti’s comeback win will take them to the CONCACAF Semi-finals for the first ever time.
Mexico 1-1 Costa Rica (5-4 on penalties)
In the 44th minute, Raúl Jimenéz made it 1-0 in favor of Mexico, but a sloppy defensive play in the 50th minute led to a Luis Rodriguez taking out Costa Rica’s Joel Cambell in the penalty box, and Bryan Ruiz took the penalty and tied the game at 1-1. The next 40 minutes were scoreless, so it went into extra time. Games that are tied at the end of 90 minutes go into two-15 minute periods of play, and if it is still tied after those, there are five PKs taken by each team. The team with more PK goals wins. If the other team cannot tie it, an example of which being one team has a 3-0 lead and the team with zero has two PKs left, then they don’t take the last two PKs, the team with three PKs scored win. If the two teams are tied after five PKs, then they just shoot until one team scores and the other team doesn’t. This is exactly what happened, because both Costa Rica and Mexico failed to score in extra time and then tied PKs after the first five were taken, 4-4, with Mexico’s miss coming from Jimenéz and Costa Rica’s from Randall Leal. In the next round, Carlos Salcedo scored, and Guillermo Ochoa saved the PK from Keysher Fuller to give Mexico the win. In a ferocious rivalry game that saw nine yellow cards, Mexico won again.
Jamaica 1-0 Panama
In a very low scoring game, a 75th minute Darren Mattocks PK proved to be the difference in a game that didn’t have a whole lot of action. There were just six combined on-target shots, and, despite having 61% of possession and 75% pass accuracy, Panama took just two of them. There were four yellow cards with three of them being given out in the last five minutes, and 32 fouls conceded.
USA 1-0 Curacao
Curacao’s Cinderella season has come to an end at the hands of Weston McKennie, who headed in the lone goal of the match. Curacao played much better than the scoreboard showed, dominating the field but failing to finish off the many, many attacking opportunities. Christian Pulisic had a great game for USA, getting the assist to McKennie. Eloy Room had a goal-line denial of Pulisic, and super-sub Gino Van Kessel had many great chances, but Zach Steffen made some great plays to deny Curacao. The refereeing was questionable for both sides, with some calls that both teams were frustrated by. Curacao also had two players leave the game with injuries, one on a stretcher, which was Ayrton Statie. USA has dominated in the second half, scoring nine-second half goals, but none were scored today. Eloy Room has to hope his tournament was good enough to attract interest, because his contract with PSV Eindhoven has just expired and he is now a free agent.
Thank you for reading! I will post semi-final predictions soon, and, as always, keep watching soccer.