After two good performances and very creditable draws against Costa Rica and South Korea, Holger Osieck's mad heads or tails calling skills meant Canada snuck into 2nd place in their group and into the quarter finals, a respectable finish but probably as far as they'd get given that their opponent would be Mexico.
The quarter finals were held as doubleheaders on conescutive days, and it was the first day's matches that had most of the excitement. First up was USA v Colombia (click here for highlights)and after an 81st minute equaliser for Colombia, it went to extra time tied at 2-2. Both teams hit the bar, and thus we went to the world's most inept penalty shoot out ever. Colombia only scored 2 out of 4, but that was all they needed as the US scored a truly atrocious 1 out of 5 penalties and thus were knocked out, current DC United coach Ben Olsen having the final penalty saved.
That was followed by Honduras v Peru. Though I disappointingly can't find highlights of it anywhere, this sounds like a great game, Peru going 4-1 up, then being pegged back to 4-3. Peru got a 5th in the 87th minute, then Carlos Pavon had a goal for Honduras ruled out, and that's when all hell broke loose. Pavon kicked the ball away in frustration and got sent off for his troubles. Milton Reyes protested that decision and also got himself a red card, and let's just say the Honduran supporters didn't really agree with all that.
The miscreants stormed field, ripped up seats and fought with police. "We had a crowd that went from a calm contingency of people which turned into chaos," Miami police spokesman Delrish Moss told Associated Press. Before storming the field, the perpetrators started heaving souvenir seat pads, plastic bottles and rocks onto the field.
That led to the game being abandoned, capping a day of drama and excitement that the next day's matchups would be unable to match. Unless you're Canadian that is.
That's actually a bit harsh on the other quarter final, which saw Costa Rica score an 89th minute equaliser, before Trinidad and Tobago got the extra time golden goal.
It was yet again an unchanged starting lineup for Canada, and the gameplan going in was to keep it tight, frustrate the Mexicans and hope for a set piece or counter attack goal. That worked for a while until Mexico took the lead in the 35th minute, a blow that was further compounded a few minutes later with this Rafa Marquez flying kick to the groin of Carlo Corazzin. Canada kept going with the same plan into the second half and it remained 1-0 until the 81st minute. Martin Nash had come on as a second half substitute and he crossed from the right wing to Carlo Corazzin who rose to head it from about 10 yards out in to the bottom corner.
Watch the goal here, enjoy commentator Bob Lenarduzzi's surprised yelp as the ball goes in, and keep watching to see the very excited Canadian supporter (yes, singular) who looks as if he's about to get the crap beat out of him just as the camera cuts away.
That meant we went to extra time, for what is, thanks to the golden goal rule in place at the time, one of, if not the greatest singular moments in Canadian football history. A Mexican corner leads to a Canada breakaway, Martin Nash passes the ball over the defence for Richard Hastings to run onto, he knocks it into the box, then smashes it past the goalie into the roof of the net for his one and only international goal, and just like that, Canada had knocked out Mexico, 10th ranked country in the world and 3 time defending Gold Cup champions. As Lenarduzzi giggled his was through the post goal analysis, Gerry Dobson had to reassure the viewing public that Canada 2 Mexico 1 was indeed the truth.
Once again, I'll end with another quote from this Jason de Vos article, a scene from after the game.
February 20, 2000. In a bus outside Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, a group of men looked at each other in disbelief. One of them spoke up and said what the others were thinking to themselves. "You know what? We could actually win this thing."