CARSON -- Everything went according to plan in the final Group B doubleheader in CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying tournament, with Mexico claiming the top spot, Honduras advancing to winner-takes-all semifinals as the No. 2 side -- and both likely to claim berths for the London Games.
Honduras snared its berth in Saturday's semifinals in Kansas City, Kan., with a by-the-numbers 2-0 triumph over Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday night at Home Depot Center. A victory over El Salvador will send the Catrachos to their third men's soccer tournament in four Olympic games.
It was going to take a miracle to knock Mexico out of the top spot -- El Tri had clinched a semifinal berth Sunday -- and Panama, despite a spirited battle, wasn't going to post the nine-goal win required to do so. It had nearly sewn up a scoreless draw when Guadalajara's Erick Torres, making his first appearance of the tournament, scored in stoppage for a 1-0 victory that thrilled most of the 10,061 in attendance.
Keeping tabs on the road to London:
Honduras and Mexico did what was required and little more.
The Catrachos weren't particularly sharp, but they engineered two scoring plays -- one fortunate, the other precise -- to overcome a game T&T side. Eddie Hernandez and Anthony Lozano assisted each other's goals.
Hernandez provided a 37th-minute lead after Wilmer Crisanto's blast from right right ricocheted off a prone Lozano and looped into the goalmouth. Hernandez needed only a simple header to put it in the net.
Honduras doubled their lead in the 70th minute, when Hernandez nodded D.C. United star Andy Najar's cross onto Lozano's path for an easy finish.
Mexico pulled out a victory at the death in a spirited finale, thanks to Torres' finish after Atlante's Jeronimo Amione one-timed Pumas UNAM winger Javier Cortes' cross from the left flank onto his path.
El Tri was even to that point because of two big first-half saves by Gallos Blancos goalkeeper Liborio Sanchez and Surinamese referee Enrico Wijngaarden's failure to award Panama an early penalty kick after a clear hand ball in El Tri's box.
Saturday's semifinals at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., will determine CONCACAF's Olympians in the men's game. Honduras and El Salvador will battle in the opener, and Mexico takes on Canada in the second game of the doubleheader.
Already in the Olympic field are Great Britain, Belarus, Spain and Switzerland from Europe; Brazil and Uruguay from South Americs; Egypt, Gabon and Morocco from Africa; and Japan, South Korea and United Arab Emirates from Asia. Two more berths, beyond CONCACAF's, must be determined.
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
Canada 0, El Salvador 0
United States 4 (Corona 11, 40, 88, Agudelo 37, own goal Diz Pe 43, Adu 62), Cuba 0
El Salvador 4 (Blanco 4, Flores 53, 80, Mendjivar 68), Cuba 0
United States 0, Canada 2 (Henry 58, Cavallini 82)
Canada 1 (James 25), Cuba 1 (Reyes 91+)
United States 3 (Boyd 1, 65, Corona 68), El Salvador 3 (Blanco 35, Flores 37, 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
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)
Panama 1 (Godoy 69), Trinidad & Tobago (Winchester 93+)
Mexico 3 (Pulido 13, 40, 46), Honduras 0
Honduras 2 (Hernandez 37, Lozano 70), Trinidad & Tobago 0
Mexico 1 (Torres 91+), Panama 0
FINAL FOUR (Kansas City, Kan.)
El Salvador vs. Honduras, 3 p.m. (Telemundo)
Mexico vs. Canada, 6 p.m. (Telemundo)
Final, 5 p.m. (Telemundo)
x - clinched semifinal berth
All times Pacific