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CONCACAF World Cup qualifying: Third Round Matchday 6 recap

The final CONCACAF games of the October World Cup qualifying window have been played. The players representing the teams of the Octagonal will return to their respective clubs for another month away from international action. 

After Wednesday night’s contests, the final eight CONCACAF teams have played six of their 14 third round fixtures. There is still plenty of time, but the remaining number of available points is steadily dwindling. 

If any of the teams do not like their current position, the time for change is now. Some teams, as we will see later on, have already taken that initiative. Here is a look at all the results from a goal-filled Matchday 6 (stats from FotMob).

United States 2-1 Costa Rica

The United States rallied after conceding first in order to secure three important points against Costa Rica in Columbus. 

The game started with a bang, with Keysher Fuller opening the scoring for the visitors in the very first minute. There were questions of offside from the USMNT, but Sergiño Dest’s positioning on the end line meant that the goal was correctly given. Dest made amends less than a half hour later. In the 25th minute, the fullback cut inside on his left foot and fired a rocket into the top corner. The United States then completed the comeback in the 66th minute when Timothy Weah had a shot that hit the post before bouncing off the goalkeeper and in. 

The USMNT certainly had the fresher legs in this one, which became obvious as the match went on. Another decisive factor was Costa Rica’s star goalkeeper Kaylor Navas leaving the game at half time due to an injury. 

The USA had the advantage in terms of possession, shots and chances created. Despite this, the game remained extremely tight until the final whistle. In the end, the United States managed to secure three points that they simply had to have.

Canada 4-1 Panama

Just like the United States, Canada withstood an early goal in this one to secure three points at home.

Rolando Blackburn opened the scoring for Panama in the fifth minute when he converted a cross from Michael Murillo. Canada evened things up in the 28th minute when Murillo inadvertently directed a Canadian corner into his own net. Alphonso Davies gave Canada the lead in the 66th minute with an incredible individual effort. He used a blistering turn of speed to keep a ball in play before scoring with his left foot from just inside the box. The goals kept coming from Canada. New England’s own Tajon Buchanan scored a header in the 71st minute. In the 78th minute Jonathan David slotted home a cross from Davies to cap things off.

It was an emphatic victory for Canada in a match between two teams vying for the third automatic qualification spot. Panama certainly is not out of things yet, but this performance will give Canada a great deal of confidence that they can sustain their level of play.

Honduras 0-2 Jamaica

This clash between the seventh and eighth placed teams in the group gave us the first managerial casualty of the Octagonal. After Jamaica picked up its first win of the third round, Honduras decided to part ways with manager Fabián Coito.

Honduras had the majority of possession in this one, but it was Jamaica who made their chances count. The Reggae Boyz scored once in each half and kept a clean sheet en route to victory. Kemar Roofe opened the scoring in the 38th minute when he redirected a Shamar Nicholson shot past goalkeeper Luis López. Jamaica made it two in the 79th minute when Oniel Fisher scored a great goal off of a feed from Andre Gray. 

Jamaica’s first win of the third round lifted them up to sixth place in the group. With the result, Honduras is now the sole winless CONCACAF team remaining. Jamaica will hope that this will help spark a positive run. Honduras will need to find a new manager to get them back on track before the November games roll around.

El Salvador 0-2 Mexico

On the road in San Salvador, Mexico picked up another quality win to remain the top team in the CONCACAF Octagonal. Although the 0-2 scoreline might suggest a straightforward affair, this one had plenty of CONCACAF chaos.

Mexico opened the scoring in the 30th minute when Héctor Moreno headed home a corner from Jesús Corona. Things took a turn in the 48th minute when Salvadorian defender Mario Jacobo received a red card for bringing down Rogelio Funes Mori and denying a goal scoring opportunity. Mexico themselves went down to ten men in the 67th minute when Néstor Araujo picked up his second yellow card in the span of about 11 minutes. Raúl Jiménez secured the victory for Mexico in the third minute of added time when he rolled in a penalty that he won moments earlier. 

The game had all the hallmarks of a classic CONCACAF affair. However, Mexico’s quality shone through in the end. Mexico preserved their three point lead atop the group with the win. Despite a valiant effort, El Salvador slipped down to seventh place.

Final Thoughts on CONCACAF

The past two CONCACAF windows combined for quite a hectic start to the third round of World Cup qualifying. After six games in just over a month’s time, everyone has a chance to catch their breath.

At this stage of the competition Mexico, the United States and Canada continue to look like the three strongest teams. Panama has been very tough and the inter-confederation play-off spot is theirs to lose at the moment. Costa Rica’s stingy defense should keep them in contention. If Jamaica can go on a run, they have the talent to be in the mix as well. 

El Salvador and in particular Honduras are the two teams who will need a significant change of fortune if they want to get back into contention.

The November window will see the CONCACAF teams play two games in five days. The highlight of that stretch is the highly-anticipated match between the United States and Mexico in Cincinnati.

Featured image courtesy of @Concacaf.

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