Home Canadian Soccer Two comebacks help Canada to third-place honours at U-17 Championship

Two comebacks help Canada to third-place honours at U-17 Championship

Jordan Haynes
Jordan Haynes
The Canadian team played the third-place match as if it was playing for gold.

Canada scored two dramatic equalizers against Honduras — one at the end of normal time, one at the end of extra time — and then won the penalty shootout 4-2, to take the third-place game at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.

In a consolation game, and with several lineup changes made ahead of the match in Panama City, it would have been all to easy (and forgivable) for coach Sean Fleming’s teen charges to mail this one in.

But, despite spending most of regulation time down 1-0, Canada got its equalizer four minutes into stoppage time. TFC Academy’s Elias Roubos crossed the ball in for his club-and-country teammate, Jordan Hamilton, to head home.

Having finally clawed back into the game, the Canadians put themselves in a position where another comeback was needed. Sixteen minutes into extra time, Honduras’s Steven Ramos finished with his left foot to give the Central Americans the 2-1 lead.

But midfielder Jordan Haynes got Canada level with just a minute left in extra time. Like so many other goals in this tournament, it was a case of sticking with it after the first chance has gone away. If there’s one thing that epitomizes this team, it’s been the number of goals it has scored in this tournament on second and third chances — looking for the ball after a save or block has been made, or if the ball has gone off the post. Haynes’s first shot was blocked, but he smacked home the second chance to get the game to 2-2 — and to penalty kicks.

Canada got the chance to shoot first, but Alex Comsia — whose mishit clearance led to Honduras’s opening goal in the 16th minute off the foot of Jorge Bodden — hit a waist-high shot, the easiest kind for the keeper to save. Luckily for Canada, though, it would end up being the only chance the boys in red would miss.

Aron Mkungilwa, Haynes, Hamilton and Roubos all scored to clinch the third-place honour. Of the four, there was drama on Hamilton’s chance — as he got to retake the kick after Honduran keeper Cristian Hernandez saved the first attempt, but was ruled to have come off his line too early. Hamilton converted his second chance.

Honduras went just two-for-four in kicks. Canadian keeper Marco Carducci made an outstanding diving stop on Deybi Flores, reaching behind himself as he dove to his left to block the shot. And Honduras’s Devron Garcia put his attempt off the post.

“Undoubtedly that performance today showed a great amount of character from the boys,” said Fleming in a release issues by the Canadian Soccer Association after the match. “To come from behind twice at two crucial moments in the game speaks volumes about the self-belief in this team.”

As is the tradition with many third-place games, Fleming used the match to start some players who hadn’t seen much of the field in the tournament. And his hand was also forced, because midfield/attacking sparkplug Hanson Boakai was unavailable due to yellow-card accumulation. After all, Canada had achieved its major goal, qualifying for the U-17 World Cup, and Fleming needed to spread some minutes around so some of the depth players on the squad gain valuable experience of playing in hostile territory.

Haynes, fullback Kevon Black and striker Andrew Gordon, all regulars through the tournament, started the match on the bench. And Hamilton, used as as the super sub for most of the U-17s, got to start and survived the match — playing vital roles in scoring the first equalizer and then scoring in the shootout.

Coaches will say that one international match is about the same as a bunch of club matches in terms of players gaining experience. Canada has fought from behind in the quarter-final and the third-place game — so we’d hope that it means these young players have really developed their mental toughness. And, maybe, down the road, we might not be talking about third-place matches with this generation of players — but championship games, instead.

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  1. cwell

    April 22, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Great performance by the players and staff. Parents, too, for that matter; must have cost a fortune to stay in Panama for two weeks.

    These players will be in their prime – 25-26 years old – for the 2022 World Cup. If they make it that far, I’ll remember this win over Honduras as a starting point. Good luck, boys!

  2. footy

    April 20, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Nice! But now I do hope that the young players get picked up by Pro teams. Especially Andrew Gordon, he has shown lots of ability on the pitch. One would hope to see one or two full internationals in a few years from this team.

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