The USA thrashed Trinidad and Tobago in Chicago while Mexico bid a proper farewell to Cuauhtémoc Blanco in Chiapas with a 2-1 win over Canada on Wednesday. Costa Rica rounded out the positive results for the region's nominal big three with a win over Haiti in Port au Prince, in this third matchday of the third round of North, Central American and Caribbean qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Game of the day
USA 3-0 Trinidad - Goals: Bradley (10'), Dempsey (18'), Ching (57')
The United States had precious little trouble with a Dwight Yorke-less Trinidad and Tobago in their first home game of the qualifying campaign. Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey - with his fourth goal in four games - had the Americans in front inside the first 20 minutes, and Brian Ching added a third in the second half. The result sees the reigning regional champions make a valid claim to CONCACAF dominance. Having scored five times in three wins for a perfect nine points, they have yet to see a ball pass across Tim Howard's goal line.
The other games
Costa Rica and El Salvador both won out in a Group 3 that is beginning to look like a foregone conclusion. The Ticos, aiming to qualify for their third straight finals, made easy work of Haiti in Port au Prince. Bryan Ruiz of A.A. Gent grabbed a pair of goals in a 3-1 win that sees the Central American champions keep pace at the top of the section with a perfect nine points from three games.
El Salvador all but ensured their passage to the final round too, beating Suriname 2-0 on the road in Paramaribo. Shawn Martin opened the scoring in the second minute and the Central Americans - who knocked Panama out in the previous round - benefitted from a Marlon Felter own goal to keep hold of second place in the pool with six points.
Mexico had to battle to down Canada in Chiapas, but a goal from Omar Bravo six minutes after coming on sent them on their way. Rafa Marquez added another in the 72nd minute, before Ali Gerba pulled a goal back for the Canadians in the 2-1 loss. Cuauhtémoc Blanco - who announced his international retirement earlier in the day - was brought on as a late sub and honoured with a tribute from captain Marquez, who handed the armband over to the Mexican maverick one last time.
Honduras kept hold of Mexico's coat tails in Group 2 with a 2-0 win over Jamaica in San Pedro Sula. Amado Guevara scored from the spot to double Ramon Nunez's opener in a result that will likely see the Catrachos through to the final round.
Guatemala moved level with Trinidad in second spot in Group 1 behind the USA with a 4-1 win over Cuba in Guatemala City. Roberto Linares put the visitors into the lead mid-way through the first half, drawing the hosts' wrath in the process. Guatemala top scorer Carlos Ruiz bagged a pair of goals and Mario Rodriguez and Jorge Contreras added insurance strikes inside the last five minutes.
The stat 21 - The number of goals conceded by Group 3 minnows Suriname and Haiti over the course of their three games. The Surinamese have shipped eleven in two defeats and a draw, as the Haitians fared slightly better with ten in the "against" column.
Goal of the day
*Mexico 1-0 Canada - Omar Bravo
*With the Canadians putting up brave resistance, Mexico looked to be out of ideas 14 minutes into the second half at their Tuxtla Gutierrez Stadium in Chiapas. Substitute Omar Bravo provided the necessary spark. Leaping over the towering figure of defender Adrian Serioux, the off-balance Deportivo la Coruna man - only on the pitch for six minutes - managed to slam an off-balance header from 14 yards into the top corner of the Canadian goal past the sprawling Lars Hirschfeld.
Quote of the day"We haven't really been decisive in our last two games, even though we won them. Tonight we showed all of our critics that we can play and almost guaranteed ourselves a place in the next round," scorer Clint Dempsey on the USA's 3-0 win over T&T in Chicago.
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