In perhaps their most important match of the group stage at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, Canada earned a crucial result on Friday night.
The Canadians earned a 1-1 draw with Mexico to remain undefeated after three matches, following a 3-1 win over Haiti and a 3-2 victory over Costa Rica. Tristan Borges, a midfielder from the Toronto FC Academy, scored a long-range golazo late in the first half to cancel out an early strike from Mexico’s Ulises Torres.
Head coach Sean Fleming used essentially the same starting XI as he fielded against Haiti and Costa Rica.
Defender Kosovar Sadiki was inserted as a replacement for Matthew Baldisimo, who captained Canada in the first two matches but left the Costa Rica game at halftime. He was on Canada’s bench on Friday, and almost came on late in the second half when Sadiki was momentarily hobbled. Sadiki, however, finished the game.
Midfielder Rich Ennin came into the lineup in place of Jean-Yves Ballou Tabla, who missed the Mexico game due to yellow card accumulation.
Canada’s two remaining games – against Saint Lucia (Mar. 9) and Panama (Mar. 12) – will determine their final group-stage standing. The Canadians currently sit second in the group, tied with Mexico on seven points but behind on goal differential.
The group winner automatically qualifies for this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile (Oct. 17 to Nov. 8), while the second- and third- place finishers get a one-game playoff with a World Cup berth on the line. Canada are looking to qualify for their third straight U-17 World Cup, after reaching the tournament in 2013 and 2011.
Canada lineup vs. Mexico: Goalkeeper Luciano Trasolini (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency); Defenders Kosovar Sadiki (Stoke City Academy), Kadin Chung (Whitecaps Residency), Gabriel Boakye (Toronto FC Academy) and Thomas Micoski (North Toronto Nitros); Midfielders Duwayne Ewart, Munir Saleh (Whitecaps Residency), Harrison Paton (Fulham U-18 Academy), Rich Ennin (Toronto FC Academy) and Tristan Borges (Toronto FC Academy); Striker Daniel Sagno (Whitecaps Residency).