An early red card helped doom Canada’s Under-20 national team to a costly 2-1 loss to Panama in their Group D match at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship in Bradenton, Florida on Tuesday.
Vancouver Whitecaps Homegrown Player Michael Baldisimo was sent off in the 24th minute, leaving his side to play most of the match shorthanded. Los Canaleros took advantage of the situation in first-half injury time as Saed Diaz scored the first of his two goals. Toronto FC II midfielder Noble Okello drew Les Rouges level after the break, sidefooting a half-cleared loose ball into the upper right corner of the net with a fine one-touch finish from some 18 yards out.
But just a few minutes later Canada goalkeeper Alessandro Busti, who plays his club soccer at Italian giants Juventus, conceded a big rebound that Diaz latched on to, skilfully lifting the ball over the advancing Busti before heading it into the net from close range. Panama also finished the match with 10 players after Jorge Mendez saw his second yellow card in the 87th minute, though it did not leave enough time for Les Rouges to find an equalizer.
The loss is Canada’s first of the tournament and with only group winners advancing to the second group stage, it leaves them in need of help if their qualifying hopes are to remain alive. They’re now tied for second place in the group standings with matches remaining against St. Kitts and Nevis on Thursday and Martinique on Saturday.
Alessandro Busti (GK); Emile Legault (Clement Bayiha 46’), Julian Dunn, Yohan Le Bourhis, Daniel Kinumbe (Noah Verhoeven 76’); Michael Baldisimo, Noble Okello, Mathieu Choiniere (C), Dante Campbell; Adonijah Reid (Jordan Perruzza 46’), Theo Bair.