OLYMPICS: Ponce gives Mexico the crown
Mexico heads to the Olympics as CONCACAF's under-23 champion. Honduras goes to London with two players suspended.
That's the upshot from Monday's title game in the region's Olympic qualifying tournament, in which El Tri prevailed, 2-1, on Miguel Angel Ponce's volley late in overtime in Kansas City, Kan.
Marco Fabian de la Mora also scored for Mexico, which rallied from a deficit after Romell Quioto's header gave the Hondurans a 48th-minute lead.
Both sides qualified for the Olympics with semifinal victories Saturday.
Keeping tabs on the road to London:
- WHAT HAPPENED?
Mexico fell behind early in the second half, then took over, sending attacking wave after wave at the Honduran defense to net a 75th-minute equalizer and score the winner 26 minutes into overtime.
Quioto gave the Catrachos the advantage by nodding home Alexander Lopez's cross, but they were under heavy pressure the rest of the way. Marco Fabian tied the score with a brilliant blast from 28 yards that bent just inside the right post -- his fifth goal of the tournament -- and Mexico failed to win in regulation when the star forward shot wide with an open shot inside the box in the 83rd minute and his Guadalajara teammate Erick Torres put a looping header off the crossbar in the 86th.
Honduras goalkeeper Jose Mendoza was heroic on several occasions. He required medical attention after appearing to hurt his knee and signaled at least twice to bee substituted off.
Ponce, a Sacramento-born midfielder for Guadalajara, got open at the left post to finish Israel Jimenez's cross from the left flank in the 116th minute. The seven-pass sequence occurred when Mexico failed to return the ball to Honduras, which had knocked it out of bounds so a player could receive medical treatment.
Honduras finished with nine players. Luis Garrido was sent off in second-half stoppage for stomping on Marco Fabian's foot during a midfield challenge, and Wilmer Crisanto picked up his second yellow card in the 129th. Both will be suspended for Honduras' first game at the Olympics, and Garrido could face a lengthier ban.
The Olympics! Well, preparations for the Olympics. And speculation begins on which three over-23 players -- Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez for Mexico, perhaps? -- will highlight 18-man rosters in London.
Here's the full Olympic field:
Europe: Great Britain, Belarus, Spain and Switzerland.
South America: Brazil and Uruguay.
Africa: Egypt, Gabon and Morocco.
Asia: Japan, South Korea and United Arab Emirates.
CONCACAF: Mexico and Honduras.
Oceania: New Zealand.
Playoff winner: Oman and Senegal meet April 23 in Coventry, England, for the 16th berth.
The Olympic women's field:
CONCACAF: United States and Canada.
Europe: Great Britain, France and Sweden.
South America: Brazil and Colombia.
Africa: Cameroon and South Africa.
Asia: Japan and North Korea.
Oceania: New Zealand will clinch the final berth Wednesday. The Ferns won Satuday's first leg of the regional final, 8-0, over Papua New Guinea.
The draw is April 24. The opening ceremony is July 27, but the soccer competition begins July 25, and gold-medal matches are slated for Aug. 9 (women) and 11 (men). Games will be played at Wembley Stadium outside London and in Manchester (Old Trafford), Cardiff (Millennium Stadium), Newcastle (St. James' Park), Glasgow (Hampden Park) and Coventry (City of Coventry Stadium).
- THE NUMBERS
FINAL FOUR (Kansas City, Kan.)
Honduras 1 (Quioto 48), Mexico 2 (Marco Fabian 75, Ponce 116), OT
El Salvador 2 (Molina 77, Sanchez 106), Honduras 3 (Lozano 1, Rodas 101, 114), OT
Mexico 1 (Marco Fabian 20, Pulido 33, Ponce 59), Canada 1 (Haber 32)
GROUP A (Nashville, Tenn.)
1. x-El Salvador 1-0-2 (7-4 GF-GA) 5 points
2. x-Canada 1-0-2 (3-1) 5 points
3. United States 1-1-1 (9-6) 4 points
4. Cuba 0-2-1 (1-11) 1 point
Thursday, March 22
Canada 0, El Salvador 0
United States 4 (Corona 11, 40, 88, Agudelo 37, own goal Diz Pe 43, Adu 62), Cuba 0
Saturday, March 24
El Salvador 4 (Blanco 4, Flores 53, 80, Mendjivar 68), Cuba 0
United States 0, Canada 2 (Henry 58, Cavallini 82)
Monday, March 26
Canada 1 (James 25), Cuba 1 (Reyes 91+)
United States 3 (Boyd 1, 65, Corona 68), El Salvador 3 (Blanco 35, Flores 37, Alas 95+)
GROUP B (Home Depot Center)
1. x-Mexico 3-0-0 (11-1 GF-GA) 9 points
2. x-Honduras 2-1-0 (5-4) 6 points
3. Panama 0-2-1 (2-5) 1 point
4. Trinidad & Tobago 0-2-1 (2-10) 1 point
Friday, March 23
Honduras 3 (Hernandez 19, Martinez 47, Lopez 87), Panama 1 (Glaize 55)
Mexico 7 (Pulido 29, Marco Fabian 33, 69, 85, Reyes 51, Jimenez 75, Cortes 91+), Trinidad & Tobago 1 (Molino 87)
Sunday, March 25
Panama 1 (Godoy 69), Trinidad & Tobago (Winchester 93+)
Mexico 3 (Pulido 13, 40, 46), Honduras 0
Tuesday, March 27
Honduras 2 (Hernandez 37, Lozano 70), Trinidad & Tobago 0
Mexico 1 (Torres 91+), Panama 0
x - clinched semifinal berth