||0||2||2||Jordan Hamilton 90'+3, Jordan Haynes 119'|
|HONDURAS||1||2||2||Jorge Bodden 18', Steven Ramos 107'|
|Alex Comsia SAVED||1||Deybi Flores SAVED|
|Aron Mkungilwa GOAL||2||Rembrandt Flores GOAL|
|Jordan Haynes GOAL||3||Devron Garcia MISSED|
|Jordan Hamilton GOAL||4||Steven Ramos GOAL|
|Elias Roubos GOAL||5|
|Substitutions||Andrew Gordon for Marco Bustos 55'
Ali Musse for Matthew Chow 62'
Jordan Haynes for Jose Lopez 77'
Forget the U-17 World Cup for a moment, and think about this tidbit: we've beaten Honduras. Yes, that team that cost us a trip to the Hex, vanquished in Panama City's Estadio Rommel Fernandez, another hoodoo place that still stings when many Canadian soccer fans even think about it. But both demons, exorcised in one night.
...Okay, so it's the U-17 side, but cut us some slack, okay?
Either way, it wasn't exactly the easiest of wins. An early giveaway was cancelled out at the death of regular time by TFC Academy's Jordan Hamilton, and a go-ahead goal by Honduras' Steven Ramos early in the second half of extra time was cancelled out at the death by Vancouver Whitecaps Academy product Jordan Haynes. Then, it would be the result of calm kicking that sealed the deal in the ever-fun penalty shootout from products of all three Canadian MLS academies, the Impact Academy's Aron Mkungilwa kicking off the party and TFCA's Elias Roubos to seal the deal.
Yes, I know. Next, we'll be asking for world peace. But that's neither here nor there right now. The boys, coming off a rather flat performance in the semi-final against Panama just days before, proved themselves in a massive test of character and resiliency. Even when they went down a goal in the 18th minute to a soft giveaway to Jorge Bodden, who duly took the gift and buried it past Marco Carducci, they fought on. It wouldn't be until around the 30th minute when the Canadians would finally find some semblance of footing into the match, but chances would be rare.
Without Hanson Boakai, who was suspended for this match for card accumulation, the Canadians struggled a bit to find some pace. Matthew Chow would have a header from a sharp angle sent high for a corner in the 27th minute, which was just after a couple of corners and a chance from Mkungilwa. Mikael Cantave and Hamilton would start the drive after the break, but it would Marco Bustos, just before being subbed out, who would show Canada's intent in the 55th minute on a free kick, but Alex Comsia would head wide. Ali Musse would drop an excellent ball into the danger area in the 71st, but no red shirt would find it.
Time wasn't on the Canadians' side, and as the clock ticked down it just didn't seem like that they would find an equalizer -- enter Hamilton, who would strike like Terry Dunfield on the last play of second half extra time, off a header from Roubos, to tie things up. The first half of extra time saw little in way of chances, but Ramos would give Honduras the lead again in the 107th minute, after Canada had defended a dangerous free minutes earlier -- and usually that means the party is over, right?
Not this time. Again, at the death, a hero emerges. Jordan Haynes, who had come on late in the second half for Jose Lopez to help find an equalizer, would himself score an equalizer. After the ball had hit the post moments earlier, the Whitecaps Academy product would tie things up, and send it to penalties. Comsia, whose mishit gave up the opening goal, would have his attempt saved. But Mkungilwa, Haynes, Hamilton and Roubos would seal the deal -- and as they say, the rest is history after that.
What does this result really say about the state of Canadian soccer? Not very much if you look at just the surface, given how close the Canadians cut it -- but it does say a lot about the character of these kids (something that their coach Sean Fleming couldn't stop praising in his post match comments). It took a lot of determination to keep fighting, especially for kids as young as they are; and to come back and win so gloriously shows a lot of the spirit and character that has been instilled in these kids; it's almost enough to make a cynical old man like me shed a tear.
So if they can keep playing the way they are, who knows where they can be down the road? The U-17 World Cup in the UAE is on the near part of the radar, but what of the future, if they are to keep at this torrid pace of bodacious? Is a global trophy on the radar? Perhaps not...but hey, that would be one sweet escape to dream of, wouldn't it?
You can see the highlights below: