2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiying: Mexico Reign Again As U-23 Champions

2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiying: Mexico Reign Again As U-23 Champions

After already qualifying for the Rio Games, Mexico once again beat Honduras to be crowned the champions of the region in the U-23 age group.

Ivan Sanchez-Carrasco

After both teams had already punched their ticket to the Rio Olympic Games next summer, Mexico and Honduras found themselves in a rematch of a Group B match up and a chance to win the CONCACAF Olympic Tournament and be named the best U-23 team in the CONCACAF region.

Besides being a rematch from the group stage, the final was also a repeat of the 2011 CONCACAF Olympic Tournament finals between the two nations. Four years ago Mexico was able to take the championship in extra time.

After rotating him team around during the tournament, Coach Raul Gutierrez would repeat almost the exact same lineup that beat Canada in the semifinals which gave Mexico the ticket to Rio. Manuel Lajud Bojail would again start for Mexico in goal while his black consisted of Erick AguirreJordan Silva, Captain Carlos Salcedo, and Rodolfo Pizarro. In the middle Mexico would come out with Raul LopezVictor GuzmanJosecarlos Van Rakin, and Hirving Lozano in the middle. Up top the combo of Marco Bueno and Erick Torres would lead the line of attack. 

The match was an up and down game with both teams showing their qualities and showing that neither were ok with just making the Rio Games and wanted to leave Salt Lake City as champions. It was an even match that showed the quality of both teams, and that over the last two weeks they were far and above the best two teams in the tournament. 

Honduras forced Bojail into four saves on the night, but was unable to crack the Mexican keeper, who was fantastic when called into action. The game would turn on its head when Bryan Acosta would score an own goal and give Mexico the 1-0 lead three minutes away from half. Honduras came out the second half to try and find the equalizer, only to be met by Bojail and a very solid Mexican backline. 

Mexico, once again would find the perfect time to score another goal as they’ve done all tournament long when Guzman would find himself with the opportunity to smash home a goal to double the Mexican lead in the 69th minute. Which made it look as mission impossible for Honduras, considering Mexico over four and a half games had only allowed one goal. To ask the Central American’s to try and score two goals in twenty minutes was just too much of a mission as El Tri saw out the rest of the game and the championship.

Now that they’ve defended their CONCACAF championship, Gutierrez and Mexico can now focus on trying to defend their Olympic gold. The win for Mexico could also help when it comes to the Olympic draw and could be placed in the first pot with host Brazil and other favorites.

This El Tri team also showed that they have a great base of players that has a chance at making a deep run next summer. From the 20 players picked for the tournament, the roster for the Olympics must be cut by two to 18. Add the fact that you’re allowed three overaged players means that at the most, we could only see possibly 15 of these players make the Mexican Olympic roster.

After five games in two days, Mexico now switch their focus on hoping to make another run for next summer’s Rio Games.