Saturday, March 31, 2012
OLYMPICS: Mexico, Honduras qualify
By Scott French
Mexico and Honduras are headed to the Olympics in men's soccer after winning semifinal showdowns Saturday at CONCACAF's qualifying tournament in Kansas City, Kan.
Gerson Rodas scored twice in overtime as Honduras overcame Central American rival El Salvador, 3-2, in the first game of a doubleheader at Livestrong Sporting Park. Mexico claimed its berth at this summer's London Games with a 3-1 victory over Canada.
Mexico is making its 10th men's soccer appearance at the Olympics but just its second in the last four Olympiads. Honduras has qualified for the third time since 2000.
Keeping tabs on the road to London:
Mexico's class was apparent in a deserved victory over the Canadians, with Guadalajara's Marco Fabian de la Mora scoring his fourth goal of the tournament, UANL Tigres' Alan Pulido netting his fifth and Sacramento-born Miguel Angel Ponce, also from Guadalajara, adding a second-half insurance strike.
Pulido fed Marco Fabian's 20th-minute opener, then scored the 33rd-minute winner, just a minute after Marcus Haber pulled Canada even from Philippe Davies' cross.
Canada was down to 10 men after Toronto FC's Doneil Henry picked up his second yellow card in the 77th.
Honduras took three leads, twice in overtime, before pulling out the victory in the first game. Anthony Lozano provided an advantage after just 41 seconds, which looked like it would be enough until Milton Molina's equalizer with about 13 minutes to go.
Rodas' first overtime goal, in the 101st minute, was answered five minutes later by Edwin Sanchez, and Rodas netted the winner in the 114th from a cross by D.C. United's Andy Najar.
Honduras needed penalty kicks to get to the Olympics in 2000 and 2008.
El Salvador was without defender Alexander Larin, who was suspended three matches after bloodying U.S. forward Terrence Boyd's nose in an off-the-ball attack in Monday's Group A finale, an incident that was not caught by the officiating crew. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee assessed the penalty against Larin, who also was accused of biting Freddy Adu and Mix Diskerud during the game.
Cuba lost just one player during the tournament, with defender Yosmel de Armas going missing before the team's final game Monday. He is believed to be defecting to the U.S., like former Chivas USA forward Maykel Galindo, Seattle Sounders star Osvaldo Alonso, Real Salt Lake midfielder Yordany Alvarez, L.A. Blues midfielder Erlys Garcia and others before him.
Mexico and Honduras face off Monday in a largely ceremonial championship game, although there is a trophy. They join in the Olympic field a unified team from host Great Britain, plus Belarus, Spain and Switzerland from Europe; Brazil and Uruguay from South America; Egypt, Gabon and Morocco from Africa; Japan, South Korea and United Arab Emirates from Asia; and New Zealand, from Oceania. The final berth will go to Oman or Senegal, which face off in an April 23 playoff in Coventry, England.
FINAL FOUR (Kansas City, Kan.) Saturday's results
El Salvador 2 (Molina 77, Sanchez 106), Honduras 3 (Lozano 1, Rodas 101, 114), OT
Mexico 3 (Marco Fabian 20, Pulido 33, Ponce 59), Canada 1 (Haber 32)
Monday, April 2
Honduras vs. Mexico, 5 p.m. (Telemundo)
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