And so Canada's Men's Olympic dream is over, a 3-1 loss to Mexico meaning they won't be joining the Women's team in London. Disappointing for sure, but there's no real surprise or shame to be had, either in losing this particular match, or in the fact that Canada didn't qualify.
Mexico were clearly the better team and Canada were going to have to play a flawless game to be able to compete. They came out flying, dominating the first 10 minutes, and coming as close as a headed goalline clearance to opening the score. Eventually though Mexico took control of the game and opened the scoring after 19 minutes.
Marcus Haber got Canada back into it with a header through the legs of the Mexican goalie from a Philippe Davies cross after some very fancy footwork down the right wing. Unfortunately, Mexico replied almost immediately, and from there there was really one team in it. Until half time and through the second half, Mexico controlled the game with all the composure and skilled passing you'd expect. They got help they didn't need from the ref who decided not to call a fairly obvious handball in the run up to Mexico's 3rd goal, a fabulous strike from Ponce which Michal Misiewicz could only get a touch to but not quite keep out. Doneil Henry picked up a second yellow card to snuff out any hopes of a comeback and from there the Mexicans just killed the game off.
It was one step too far for Canada, who are now left with cruel thoughts of what might have been if they'd clinched the win against Cuba and got the game against Honduras instead of Mexico. Honduras ended up getting the other qualification spot after a 3-2 extra time win over El Salvador, with just the formalities of a glorified friendly to decide who gets first place overall.
All in all, the Canadian team can be proud of their effort through the tournament, with quite a few players bringing themselves to the attention of fans, or enhancing their reputation. First and foremost is goalie Michal Misiewicz who had great games to keep clean sheets against El Salvador and USA. Doneil Henry, Nana Attakora, Russell Teibert, Philippe Davies, Lucas Cavallini and Evan James also had very good tournaments.
Canada was one of if not the youngest teams at the tournament and many of them will have plenty of time left with the under 20 team, or the same under 23 team when qualifying for the 2016 Olympics comes around. It's a good sign for the future, and shows the academy systems are beginning to bear fruit. We're always going to struggle against Mexico or the US, and they're both improving just as fast as Canada can catch up, but with more and more prospects likely to come up through the MLS clubs' academy systems to join the best of this squad, Canada should very soon be right there as a realistic challenger for the title of 3rd best in the region. The future's slowly getting brighter, and this tournament, with the experience gained from beating the US and facing Mexico in the semi finals has been a valuable stepping stone.