With Matchday 3 taking place on Wednesday night, the CONCACAF September World Cup qualifying window has run its course. All eight remaining teams have now played three matches, meaning just over 20% of the Third Round of qualifying is in the rearview mirror.
National federations will have just under a month to regroup before they hit the field again in early October. Before we dive into the month away from WCQs, here is a recap of all the CONCACAF action from Matchday 3 (stats from FotMob).
Canada 3-0 El Salvador
Canada exploded at BMO Field in Toronto for their best offensive performance of the Third Round thus far. New England Revolution winger Tajon Buchanan came up with a goal and an assist to help propel his team to victory.
El Salvador actually had more possession on the evening, but they could not match Canada’s output. Canada made the difference with two goals in the first ten minutes of the game. El Salvador had opportunities, but they were unable to generate a single shot on target.
The win marks the end of a great window for Canada. If they continue to play like this, they will have every opportunity to qualify for their first World Cup of the 21st century.
Panama 1-1 Mexico
Considering Panama only qualified for the Third Round of CONCACAF’s WCQs by a one goal margin over Curaçao, they have made an impressive start to the Octagonal.
Los Canaleros opened the scoring in Panama City when Rolando Blackburn found the back of the net in the 28th minute. They defended well for the next 50 minutes before Mexico pulled level courtesy of Jesus Corona.
Mexico had the statistical edge in terms of possession and shots. However, Panama has played extremely well together as a team during this window. The draw on the road caps off a very strong window for Mexico. Panama will also take the point against the regional powerhouse.
Costa Rica 1-1 Jamaica
Costa Rica and Jamaica battled to a draw at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San José. The Jamaican defense made the difference, led by goalkeeper Andre Blake and center back Kemar Lawrence.
Costa Rica opened the scoring in this one, with Jimmy Marin heading home a ball from Jonathan Moya in the second minute. Jamaica equalized just after half time as Shamar Nicholson converted a cross from Lawrence.
The Jamaican defense held Costa Rica to a single goal despite Los Ticos generating 14 total shots. Blake did his part and then some with six saves on the night. Neither team has had the best start to their CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign. However, both sides had positives to build on in this one.
Honduras 1-4 United States
The difference between the first and second halves in this one in San Pedro Sula really was night and day.
The hosts came out hot, and Honduras opened the scoring in the 26th minute on a well deserved goal from Bryan Moya. The USMNT looked out of it in the first half. They struggled defensively with three center backs on the pitch, a shift in formation from the first two matches.
If manager Gregg Berhalter got his starting lineup wrong, he certainly was spot on with his halftime adjustments. Berhalter subbed on Brenden Aaronson, Sebastian Lletget and Antonee Robinson to start the second half. The changes allowed the USA to line up in a more conventional back four formation, and for Tyler Adams to shift centrally to his most effective position.
The changes paid off big time. Aaronson, Lletget and Robinson all scored in the second half, with Ricardo Pepi joining them on the score sheet en route to a 4-1 win. It was a very nervy first 45, but an impressive turnaround earned the United States a much-needed three points.
— Concacaf (@Concacaf) September 9, 2021
After Matchday 3, it is the three North American teams that occupy the top spots in the Octagonal. It is Mexico who have led the way, complimenting a home win with two solid road performances.
After 45 minutes on Wednesday, the United States were the clear frontrunners for the most disappointing team thus far. The second half explosion that vaulted them up into the automatic qualifying spots was a huge relief.
As a result, that ignominious title probably goes to Jamaica. They have a talented roster, but could not put it all together in this window. There is certainty still time to right the ship, and getting Leon Bailey back for future fixtures will be a big help.
It has been a true CONCACAF window with no shortage of ups and downs. Here’s to another one in a month’s time.
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Featured image courtesy of @USMNT.