Canada falls to Mexico in Olympic qualifying, will have to take long road to Rio

SANDY, Utah — The Canadian men’s under-23 soccer team will have to wait a little longer to clinch a possible berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Canada fell 2-0 to Mexico on Saturday in the semifinal of a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. The top two teams from the tournament — Mexico and Honduras — automatically guarantee themselves a spot in next summer’s Games.

Canada and the United States, which lost the other semi 2-0 to Honduras earlier Saturday, have one more shot at securing an Olympic berth. They’ll meet in the third-place match on Tuesday, with the winner moving on to face Colombia in a home-and-away series next year.

Erick Torres, who left the game in the 68th minute with an apparent leg injury, and Hirving Lozano had goals for Mexico.

Torres scored in the sixth minute to give the Mexican squad an early 1-0 lead by heading in a cross from Lozano.

Lozano doubled the lead in the 56th minute, taking a bad clearing attempt from Canadian captain Sam Piette and finding the top left-hand corner of the net.

Mexico had plenty of opportunities to add to the scoresheet.

Lozano fired a shot at Canada’s net from close range in the 11th minute, but goaltender Maxime Crepeau was there to snag the ball. In the 51st minute, Torres took a nice pass from Victor Guzman and worked around two defenders before shooting the ball just over the crossbar. Three minutes later, Marco Bueno corralled a pass from Lozano but fired wide of the Canadian net once again. 

Mexico controlled much of the second half before Canada caught a break in the 78th minute when a Mexican defender was called for a hand ball in the penalty area. Michael Petrasso couldn’t convert the penalty kick past goalkeeper Manuel Lajud Bojalil, however.

Skylar Thomas had another chance for Canada in the 87th minute when he headed a free kick off the crossbar over the outstretched hands of Bojalil.

Mexico outshot Canada 9-1 in the first half and 19-6 overall while keeping possession of the ball 66 per cent of the time.

The game was delayed half an hour because Canada’s team bus was late in arriving at the hotel.

The Canadian Press