THE DAY REPLAYED – USA, Jamaica, Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica all did enough to join mighty Mexico in the final six-team (hexagonal) round of CONCACAF qualifying. FIFA.com wraps up all the action from the New World, where Honduras humbled Canada 8-1, USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann proved he’s still an attacker at heart, and Costa Rica and Jamaica came back from the dead.
Game of the day
USA 3-1 Guatemala
A nice, neat, simple draw was all that was required in Kansas City to send both USA and Guatemala through to the final round from Group A. But American coach Klinsmann – a top striker in his playing days – was in no mood for caution, starting with the attacking trio of Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson on the pitch. In a sensational twist, however, it was Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz who opened the scoring, collecting a long ball from midfield, rounding US keeper Tim Howard and poking home to silence a capacity crowd decked out in red, white and blue regalia. It didn’t take long for the home side to respond, though, first through captain Carlos Bocanegra, and then Clint Dempsey (2), to send the Americans through and Guatemala out.
In other action
Cool Jamaican nerves were put to the test on Tuesday night as the Reggae Boyz only just managed to grab hold of the second ticket on offer from Group A. A pair of Dane Richards goals late in a 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda was enough to spark off a mighty party in Kingston as Jamaica edged Guatemala on goal difference.
Costa Rica booked their place in the final round with a stunning 7-0 win over Guyana in San Jose, completing a harrowing revival after a tepid start to their semi-final campaign. Mexico, who qualified two rounds ago at a canter, finished with a simple 2-0 win over El Salvador in Torreon to keep up their 100 per cent record.
Canada needed only a draw on the road in Honduras to book their place in the final round, but they got nowhere near it, losing out 8-1 to Honduras. Jerry Bengston and Carlo Costly both scored hat-tricks in a game that put Honduras through to the hexagonal along with Panama, who drew Cuba 1-1 in Havana.
Player of the day – Jerry Bengston (HON)
Young striker Jerry Bengston has been called the future of Honduran football, and he had his say in the stunning 8-1 victory over Canada in San Pedro Sula. The New England Revolution ace, who wasn’t even in the squad for Honduras’ near-catastrophic start to Brazil 2014 qualifying, scored three goals against the lethargic Canucks, his first-ever hat-trick in a Honduran jersey. Hero of Honduras’ shock run to the quarter-finals of the London Olympics, the tall and pacey Bengston is on an upward trajectory to be sure. He may well be clairvoyant, too, as he told FIFA.com just a few weeks ago: “We’re going to be really strong at home from now on.”
The number 30 – The number of goals Clint Dempsey, who scored two and set up the other in USA’s 3-1 win over Guatemala, has scored for the Stars and Stripes. It ties him with Brian McBride as third all-time top US scorer. Guatemala’s only goal on the night came from Carlos Ruiz, who is his country’s all-time top scorer with 55 in 104 caps.
What they said
“All I can do is ask the fans’ forgiveness on behalf of the players. I know they’ll never forgive me. You’re supposed to go down all guns blazing, but we were horrible.” Canada coach Stephen Hart on the 8-1 loss he called “disturbing,” and one that will have the footballing powers that be in the Great White North asking big questions.
CONCACAF third round, matchday sixHonduras 8-1 Canada
Cuba 1-1 Panama
USA 3-1 Guatemala
Jamaica 4-1 Antigua and Barbuda
Costa Rica 7-0 Guyana
Mexico 2-0 El Salvador
The CONCACAF hexagonal field (in no order)