CARSON, Calif. – Mexico solidified their status as the clear-cut leaders of Group B in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament on Sunday, hanging a 3-0 victory on Honduras at the Home Depot Center.
El Tri’s victory assures them side of a spot in next week’s semifinal round at Livestrong Field in Kansas City, but behind them Trinidad, Honduras and Panama each have a chance to advance to the semis going into the final match day on Tuesday.
In Sunday’s opener, a stoppage-time goal by Shahdon Winchester gave the Soca Warriors a late 1-1 draw from Panama in a match that was hindered by pelting rain.
It was the aptly named forward Cecilio Waterman who opened the scoring in the 69th minute of play. Rolando Algadona cut through the T&T defense and fired a cross to a waiting Anibal Godoy, whose shot glanced off a Trinidad defender to the waiting Waterman, who tallied from close range.
Trinidad and Tobago would not be denied, however, as they pushed forward in search of an equalizer. That goal came in the 93rd minute when a poor clearance by Algadona bounced off Winchester for the tying goal.
While the first match lacked much excitement till the death, the nightcap was a far more open affair that once again was dominated by the Mexicans.
Alan Pulido continued his torrid scoring streak, tallying a hat trick.
He struck first in the 15th minute of play as midfielder Javier Aquino charged up field before dumping the ball to Pulido on his left side. The Tigres UANL forward then danced around a Honduran defender and fired a shot that beat goalkeeper José Mendoza.
Pulido got his second in the 40th minute when he fired a rocket shot from more than 20 yards that beat an outstretched Mendoza.
It took just 41 seconds into the second half for Pulido to complete the hat trick as defender Hiram Mier launched a pass to streaking Aquino, who found a world of space down the right side. Undeterred by the defense, he unleashed a cross that Pulido easily finished for his fourth goal of the tournament.
D.C. United’s Andy Najar was an unused substitute.
With Sunday’s results in the book, the stage is set for the final night of Group B action on Tuesday as Trinidad and Tobago face a must-win match against Honduras, while Panama look to stop Mexico’s rampant run in the finale.
Adam Serrano writes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org