Well, that's the first step out of the way. A 1-1 tie (the 3rd consecutive draw between these sides)against Costa Rica means Canada finished first in their group, with Trinidad and Tobago taking 2nd place and Costa Rica finishing 3rd and going home.
It wasn't a completely comfortable game for Canada, but they did just about get the better of a fairly even first half. There weren't many great chances though Marco Bustos came closest for Canada and Hanson Boakai was probably the most dangerous player out there for Canada, getting very involved up front. Most of the action came towards the end of the first half. It started with a Costa Rican player going down in the box and the ref very refreshingly not giving the penalty, but actually calling the simulation and giving out a yellow card for it. Costa Rica then came close, Jordan Medina hitting the post before Canada did get the ball in the back of the net, defender Alex Comsia heading home from an inswinging free kick in injury time. If the diving call gave you thoughts that that familiar Canada Concacaffing might not happen, well that spectre reared it's head as the goal was called offside, which on replay looked to be a very very dodgy decision.
0-0 at the half then, and with Canada just needing to avoid a defeat by 2 or more, things were looking good. It was never going to be that easy though and early in the 2nd, the Ticos scored, a ball played over the top of the defence was tracked down by Arington Torres who lobbed the ball over the onrushing Mario Carducci and into the net.
It's about that moment that the stream crapped out on me, so the rest comes to you via twitter reports, and sadly, it seems that I missed an absolute cracker of a goal from Hanson Boakai. Twitter told me it was: a lovely effort from range - Fantastic left-footed curler - a very nice long-range strike - 20 yards out, left footed curling strike, near post, top corner - out of absolutely nothing. And fantastic placement - a fantastic goal - That's a low-percentage shot if ever there was one, but hell, I'll take it. You get the idea. I look forward to watching the highlights, when they're available I'll link them at the bottom.
At that point, Costa Rica needed to score 3 to knock Canada out, and though Boakai - who recently signed a pro contract with FC Edmonton despite being only 16 - missed a sitter , Canada cruised home to clinch top spot. The only blemish a yellow card to Dominguez that means he'll miss the quarter final.
So, job done so far, well done to Sean Fleming and the boys. Next up is a quarter final against the 2nd place team in group A, win that, and as well as advancing to the semi finals, it also would clinch a spot in the World Cup later this year.
Who might that 2nd place team be? Well, it could be any of 3 teams. The first two games in that group ended in ties, 1-1 between Panama and Jamaica, and 2-2 between Jamaica and Barbados. Panama and Barbados play this evening. What that means:
If either team wins, they'll get top spot and Jamaica will take 2nd. If it ends in a tie, well it depends on how high scoring it is. Here's the options:
0-0 and Jamaica will be first with 3 goals, Barbados second with 2 goals and hosts Panama out with just one goal.
1-1, Panama will still be out, but Jamaica and Barbados would be tied on 3 goals and drawing lots to see who gets first and who gets second.
2-2 Barbados would be first, Jamaica and Panama tied with 3 goals and drawing lots for second place
3-3 or higher Barbados first, Panama 2nd, Jamaica out.
So the hosts will clearly be hoping for the victory to take all the maths and chance out of things, and the most likely opponent will be Jamaica. That game started at 9 Eastern, so it won't be long before Canada knows their opponent for sure.
In the last year and a bit, we've seen the under 23's, the full men's squad, and the under 20's get to within one game of qualifying for various things only to lose, can the under 17's be the ones to finally break that streak? Tune in on Saturday night at 9pm to find out.
Edit: Panama won, so they clinch top spot, and Canada gets to play Jamaica, and now those highlights for you.