Second stage qualifying in CONCACAF for the 2014 World Cup got underway in full force on Friday night, and El Salvador came out the big winners.
Portland Timbers defender Steve Purdy put in a full shift in the back line as La Selecta marched into André-Kamperveen Stadion in Suriname and walked out with a 3-1 win to seal their ticket to the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
The result kept El Salvador, who are now eight points clear of the Dominican Republic and Suriname, perfect through five games in Group A. They will face Suriname again, this time at home, on Nov. 15.
The MLS foursome of Chris Birchall (LA Galaxy), Keon Daniel (Philadelphia), Julius James (Columbus) and Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver), however, weren’t as lucky, as Trinidad and Tobago were eliminated after falling 2-0 to Guyana at Providence Stadium in a Group B qualifying match.
Birchall, Daniel and James all were in the starting lineup, but Birchall was subbed off in the 39th minute and Daniel followed suit in the 55th. Mitchell watched the match from the bench.
The defeat at first-place Guyana opened up a four-point gap between the two nations, a void too big to overcome for the Trinidadians with one match left – at home against Guayana on Nov. 15 – in qualifying.
The Trinidadian faction wasn’t the only one to see their dreams of reaching the big dance evaporate. Real Salt Lake’s Jean Alexandre played a full 90 minutes for Haiti as Les Grenadiers were knocked out of qualifying thanks to a 1-0 defeat against Antigua and Barbuda at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Alexander’s contribution to the game was a yellow card received in the 40th minute. Portland Timbers forward James Marcelin wasn’t in the gameday roster for Haiti.
Haiti needed a victory to maintain hopes of moving on to the third round of CONCACAF qualifying. Instead, the loss now leaves them back five points of first-place Antigua with one match remaining – at home vs. Antigua on Nov. 15.
Down in CONMEBOL qualifying, Alejandro Moreno put in 70 minutes of work as Venezuela rallied back to split points with Colombia in a 1-1 tie at the Roberto Melendez Stadium in Barranquilla.
The Chivas USA forward started the match and was brought off in the 70th minute with La Vinotinto down 1-0. Three minutes after his departure, his replacement, Frank Fletcher, scored to cancel out Fredy Guarín’s goal.
The result put Venezuela in fourth place of the South American table, with four points through three games. They next take on Bolivia at San Cristobal on Nov. 15.
Finally, across the Atlantic, Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Nizar Khalfan started and went the distance as Tanzania topped Chad 2-1 to take a lead in their two-game aggregate goals series in the first round of CAF qualifying for the World Cup.
The two sides will meet again on Nov. 15, when they will play the deciding leg to see who moves on to the second round, where a 10-group group stage awaits.
FORCED TO WATCH
Seattle Sounders winger Álvaro Fernández had to watch from home as Uruguay routed Chile 4-0 in CONMEBOL qualifying action at Montevideo’s Centenario Stadium on Friday night.
Fernández was unable to heed his nation’s calling due to an injury suffered in his team’s Western Conference Semifinal clash against Real Salt Lake.
With the win, Uruguay moved to first in the South American table.
Another injured midfielder forced to watch was D.C. United’s Branko Boskovic, who was in attendance as Montenegro were defeated 2-0 by the Czech Republic in Sparta Stadium in the first leg of their Euro 2012 playoff qualifier.
Boskovic will likely again be in attendance when the return match is played on Nov. 15 in Podgorica.