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FT: Canada U23 0-2 Mexico U23—Men’s Olympic Qualifying match thread

Follow along tonight’s action with Michael Singh as a win puts Canada into the Olympic Games for the first time in 37 years.


Live Match Thread

FT: Mexico 2-0 Canada: The Canadian men’s hopes of qualifying for the Olympic games comes to a disappointing end.

90+1–Three minutes of added time.

81’—Things are starting to get a bit chippy as frustration begins to boil over for Canada. They can’t get anything going in the Mexican final third.

74’—Canada clearly lacking difference makers against this incredibly talented Mexican team. Fair play to Mexico, but I wonder how much having some of the TFC players would’ve helped. Regardless, they’ll need to get one soon if they want any shot at a comeback...

67’—Mexico almost make it three. This could get ugly really quickly...

65’—GOAL! Mexico 2-0 Canada—That’s a heartbreaker for Canada. A ball swung in off a free kick finds a Mexican head, who hits the post, but the ball bounces back off Canadian defender Callum Montgomery and into the back of the net. Wow.

60’—And here come the reinforcements... Theo Bair and Ballou Tabla checking in for Canada as Lucas Dias and Charles Andreas-Brym come out. If there was ever a moment for the former Barcelona B man to step up... now is the time.

58’—GOAL! Mexico 1-0 Canada—A costly mistake out of the back for Canada costs the red-and-white. Pantemis gets his pass wrong, and Mexico makes no mistake. An uphill battle for the Canadians from here...

55’—Wow. David Norman got away with one there ... taking down the Mexican defender as the last man. Yellow card, but that easily could’ve been a red. If you’re Canada ... you’ll take it.

54’—Quiet start to the first half for both teams. Again, that’s a plus for Canada.

46’—We’re back! Regardless of what happens, this will be a historic second half. Thank you for choosing to join us here! Hopefully it brings some good vibes—and luck!

HT—Some quick halftime stats: Possession is 65-35 per cent in favour of Mexico, while Canada has one shot on target to Mexico’s four. A positive for the Canadians is that they’ve connected on 95(!) per cent of their passes so far. It sure didn’t feel that way with some of the giveaways out of the back...

HT—Canada 0-0 Mexico: Things are starting to heat up! If you’re Canada, you have to be thrilled with that half. As the old adage goes, if you were to ask the Canadians if they would’ve taken a 0-0 half at the beginning of this match ... you have to imagine they would.

With that being does Canada get the winner in the second half?

45+3’—Big scuffle ensues between Mexico and Canada. Yellow card for Buchanan as well as the Mexican defender.

45+1’—Three minutes of added time. Yellow card for Brault-Guillard for pulling back the Mexican attacker.

45’—First shot of the match for Canada comes from ... you guessed it: Tajon Buchanan! Weak dribbler into the Mexican GK, but he did well to take on his defenders and get into the box.

43’—Still scoreless here in Mexico. If you’re Canada, that’s a great thing, but you’d like to see a bit more out of them offensively. The Canadians are still looking for their first shot on target,however, they do look like they’re growing in this match.

33’—PENALTY SHOUT! Mexican attacker Sebastian Cordova goes down in the box after he appeared to be pulled back by Norman, however, no call on the play. Canada can breathe...

26’—Update: Pantemis is good. He comes out quickly once again to take away a Mexican counter.

24’—CHANCE! Poor pass from Norman to Baldisimo in the middle of the park leads to a Mexico counter-attack. A smart through ball puts the Mexican attacker in behind, but Pantemis does well to close down and make the save! However... the Canadian GK came off worse for ware as he’s down receiving treatment.

21’—As LilJohn pointed out in the comments, Lucas Dias has had a strong start to the match, doing well on several occasions to keep possession for Canada. He looks capable of being able to pull that final string ... now who’s getting on the end of it?

19’—CHANCE! Off a corner, a Mexican defender gets up the highest in a crowd of players, but his header bounces wide. It wasn’t a clear-cut opportunity, but best chance of the match so far—which is probably a good thing if you’re Canada.

15’—Through the opening 15 minutes, it’s been mostly Mexico so far, however, they’ve yet to break through. Most of their attack is coming down their right wing (Canada’s left), so Bassong will need to stay sharp (as he’s done so far this tournament).

11’—Bassong gets his money’s worth with that foul, stomping on the foot of the Mexican attacker. No yellow card, but you have to imagine the next time, the fullback will certainly go into the book.

5’—Wow. Five-star tackle by David Norman. What a tournament he has had, playing out of position. Cavalry look like they have a good one there.

4’—Great early solo run by Buchanan before being taken down at the top of the box by Mexico. No foul on the play, which was questionable to say the least.

1’—And we are off! Mexico kicks off first as Canada sports their white kits this evening, while the Mexicans are in purple. Let’s do this!

9:06 pm ET—Let’s do this thing. Do you believe in miracles?

9:01 pm ET—Us too, Rob. Us too.

8:50 pm ET—We are about 15 minutes away from kickoff! S/O to OneSoccer for some great pregame coverage *cough TSN, Sportsnet cough*

8:40 pm ET—First comment in our comment thread from Supreme Ryantele, who makes a good point:

I’m glad that they went away from Bair up top. He just hasn’t been bringing much to the team in the last few games. He’s been too static. Hopefully this change helps!

Brym and Buchanan lead the attack this evening. I’m expecting Canada ‘park the bus’ and try to take advantage on the counter.

8:29 pm ET—Love this quote from goalkeeper James Pantemis. It’s just one game. I’ll try and embed some of the best tweets that we come across tonight. Make sure to tag us on twitter @WakingTheRed so that we see it!

8:26 pm ET—Was that last comment too savage? Oh well. Score predictions! How do we feel this game will end up? For Canada’s sake, I hope it’ll be a tight one.

8:15 pm ET—I’d like to take this opportunity to ask everyone to please take a moment of silence for U.S. Soccer after their dream of reaching the Olympics ended short this evening, losing the other semifinal to Honduras by a score of 2-1.

8:13 pm ET—Welcome everyone to tonight’s live match thread! It’s a massive night for Canadian footy and I appreciate everyone joining in. By this point, we know the stakes: win and you’re in the Olympic games, lose and the run is over. So on that note, let’s get this part started. I imagine we have viewers from all over the country tuning into this one, so I’ll ask: Where is everyone taking in the action for this evening from?

Starting XI

Here’s how Mauro Biello’s side will line up tonight. The biggest takeaway is 18 year old Lucas Dias making his first start of the tournament in the midfield as well as the absence of Derek Cornelius from the XI.

Canada Starting XI vs Mexico: Pantemis; Brault-Guillard, Godinho, Montgomery, Norman, Bassong; Metcalfe; Baldisimo, Dias; Buchanan, Brym

Mexico Starting XI vs Canada: TBD

Match Preview (via Anthony Khoury)

TORONTO, Canada—Following a second place finish in Group B, the Canadian U23 squad will once again play Mexico in the semifinal of the Olympic Qualifying Championship. Victory in Guadalajara will book Canada’s spot at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, while a defeat will end the dream entirely.

Kickoff is set for 9:06 pm ET on OneSoccer immediately following the senior team’s World Cup Qualifying match vs. Cayman Islands.

Canada finished the group stage unbeaten with one win and two draws to their name. The Reds took all three points against El Salvador and shared the spoils with both Haiti and Honduras in their second and third games. Having just finished behind the Hondurans on goal difference, Canada will need all hands on deck if they are to overcome Group A winners Mexico, a side that won three out of three in the round-robin stages.

Tajon Buchanan will be expected to provide the firepower upfront after scoring two of Canada’s three goals during the group stage. Yet, in order to more effectively test the dogged Mexican defence, Canada will need to ensure they have additional attacking outlets at their disposal.

Mexico are the top scoring team of the tournament with eight so far, and like Canada, have conceded just once in three games. Derek Cornelius and co. will look to keep Sebastián Córdova quiet and maintain The Reds’ strong defensive record that saw them not allow a single shot on target in their first two games.

Buoyed by their unbeaten group stage campaign, David Norman says the squad is in high spirits ahead of a potentially historic night:

“These are the games you want with a chance to play Mexico in Mexico for a spot at the Olympic Games,” Norman said in a press release. “We have a group here that’s ready to make history on Sunday.”

The Canadian men haven’t qualified for the Olympics in 37 years, but head coach Mauro Biello is also confident that his side have what it takes to record a momentous victory:

“We’ve played three matches in a week and they’ve given their all for the shirt and for their country. These boys want it and while they know it is a difficult task ahead, I think it’s going to be something for which they will be ready.”

History certainly isn’t on the side of the red and white. Canada is 0-4-2 against Mexico at the under-23 level in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying since 1992. In fact, no Canadian men’s team has ever beaten Mexico in a competitive match on Mexican soil, making Sunday’s encounter at Jalisco Stadium that much greater of a feat to overcome.

The last meeting between these U23 sides came during the same tournament in 2015, where Mexico recorded a 2-0 win in the semifinal to break Canadian hearts. Moreover, vengeance will firmly be on the minds of every Canadian player ahead of this highly anticipated clash.

A ticket to Tokyo awaits, and Canada’s budding youngsters are just one game away from achieving what no Canadian men’s side has done since 1984.

How to Watch

vs: Mexico U23
Where: Guadalajara, Mexico
Kickoff: 9 pm EST