Matchday 2 of the Third Round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying has come and gone. Some teams took early steps towards securing automatic qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Others lost ground that they will need to make up in coming fixtures.
With teams needing to play 12 more games by next March, the matches in the Octagonal come thick and fast. As a result, the teams who have had success so far cannot afford to let their foot off the gas. On the other hand, teams who have struggled will need to regroup quickly.
Without further ado, here is a look at how the eight remaining teams fared on Matchday 2 (stats from FotMob).
Jamaica 0-3 Panama
Through Matchday 2, Jamaica is the sole CONCACAF team to have suffered two defeats in the Octagonal. An experienced Panamanian side got the best of the Reggae Boyz at Independence Park in Kingston.
Jamaica was without star winger Leon Bailey, who has been battling a hamstring injury. Panama capitalized with two goals in the first half and one in the second to cruise to a comfortable win.
In 2018, Panama qualified for their first ever FIFA World Cup. They have picked up where they left off by making a bright start to qualifying for the 2022 edition. Jamaica, on the other hand, must right the ship quickly to avoid falling out of contention.
Costa Rica 0-1 Mexico
Mexico has been the standout CONCACAF team after two matches. El Tri has picked up two tough wins against Jamaica and Costa Rica to earn all six possible points thus far.
The match was a close one, with the two teams evenly sharing possession throughout the 90 minutes. Costa Rica generated more total shots, but it was Mexico who made the breakthrough. Bryan Oviedo fouled Andrés Guardado inside the box and Orbelín Pineda stepped up to convert the penalty in the first minute of first half stoppage time.
Costa Rica made several attacking substitutions in the second half, but they were unable to get back in the game.
El Salvador 0-0 Honduras
It was the Octagonal’s two Spanish speaking countries with blue and white flags who faced off in this one. Both teams came into this one having drawn their opening fixtures.
El Salvador, the hosts, dominated possession by controlling 70% of the ball. However, the visiting Hondurans generated more shots and chances on the counterattack. Ultimately, there was not a whole lot to separate the two sides in this one. A draw was a fair result for both teams.
This is the type of CONCACAF game between two bubble teams that could end up coming back to haunt one of them near the end of the qualifying campaign. For now though, it is another solid point for two hard-working outfits.
USA 1-1 Canada
In a rematch from this summer’s Gold Cup, the United States got another tough game from a Canada team that is clearly trending in the right direction. The Canadian men’s team has only qualified for one World Cup in their history, back in 1986. However, their star 20-year-old Alphonso Davies gives them a chance in just about any game they play in.
The USMNT had the lion’s share of possession in this one, controlling 72% of the ball. However, the USA struggled to generate chances and it took them until the 55th minute to break through Canada’s defenses. Brenden Aaronson gave the home team the lead when he tapped home a cross from left back Antonee Robinson. Canada responded quickly, with Davies surging into space and picking out Cyle Larin for a very similar looking goal just seven minutes later.
The United States pushed from that point on, but they were forced to settle for a draw. With Zack Steffen, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie all out of the lineup and just two shots on target generated from 72% possession, the USMNT was left with more questions than answers in this one.
— Concacaf (@Concacaf) September 6, 2021
It is Mexico who have looked the best after Matchday 2. CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is all about picking up points any way possible and El Tri have done that by grabbing two one goal wins against tough opposition.
Still, there is plenty of time left for other teams to make their mark on this qualifying campaign as well. With the eight CONCACAF teams back in action on Wednesday night, teams do not have to wait long if they want a shot at changing the narrative.
The United States and Jamaica in particular both need to step up on Matchday 3. Panama hosting Mexico is also an intriguing battle between the top two teams in the group.
There should be no shortage of exciting WCQ action across the region tomorrow night.
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Featured image courtesy of @CanadaSoccerEN.