Home Canadian Soccer Gulp! Canada’s U-20s to face Mexico in quarter-final

Gulp! Canada’s U-20s to face Mexico in quarter-final

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Valerio Gazzola
Canada lost twice Friday at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Guatemala.

The Canadians were overwhelmed 3-0 by Costa Rica in their final group-stage match. And, if not for some wonderful saves from Julien Latendresse-Levesque, the scoreline could have been much, much worse.

The loss guaranteed that Canada would finish second in Group C, meaning it would play the Group D winner in their quarter-final match.

Mexico then thrashed Trinidad and Tobago 5-0 — not that much of a surprise — to ensure that Canada would have to play El Tri in what is essentially a do-or-die game. All of the semifinalists earn spots at the U-20 World Cup.

By finishing second in Group C, Canada has the hardest quarter-final opponent of them all.

Canada will need to stop Mexican striker Taufic Guarch, who scored three times against T and T. The Estudiantes Tecos’ player is raved about on a number of soccer scouting sites. Alan Pulido, the teenager from Tigres, scored twice. After missing out on the 2009 U-20 World Cup, the Mexican program has reloaded, with a plethora of attack-minded players who have, so far, used this tournament for shooting practice.

Juan Golobio opened the scoring for Costa Rica against Canada, as his long-range effort caught Latendresse-Levesque leaning the wrong way. Hard to criticize the Canadian keeper, who made a series of good saves to hold Canada in at 0-0 through the first half-hour.

Joel Campbell, the Costa Rican attacker who has been the Ticos star of the tourney so far, put the game away with a ridiculous free kick in the 66th. He also set up Mynor Escoe Miller’s insurance marker in stoppage time.

Canadian coach Valerio Gazzola started a strong lineup, trying to avoid Mexico. But Russell Teibert, who set up both goals in Canada’s comeback 2-1 win over Guadeloupe, didn’t play.

“We did not have the performance we we wanted,” Gazzola was quoted on the Canadian Soccer Association website. “The scenario required us to open up the game plan in an effort to attack. It is difficult in international football to play an open game and create scoring chances.”

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