Despite beating nine-man Haiti 5-1 Sunday night at Home Depot Center, Mexico crashed out of Olympic qualifying on goal difference.
The result means Canada, the second place finisher in Group B, plays the U.S. Thursday, while Guatemala faces Honduras.
In a game that featured wave after wave of Mexican attacks, El Tri could have scored several many more goals, but missed a penalty while Toluca’s Santiago Fernandez missed two point-blank chances within two minutes.
Cruz Azul’s Cesar Villaluz opened Mexico’s account with a diving header in the 18th minute before 12,824 mainly Mexican fans.
Edgar Andrade of Cruz Azul made it two in the 61st minute, while Haiti pulled a goal back two minutes later as Mexico got caught pressing forward.
Fernandez claimed Mexico’s third in the 70th minute and Club America’s Enrique Esqueda made it 4-1 seven minutes from the end of regulation.
Luis Angel Landin of Morelia scored Mexico’s fifth in the 90th minute, but despite five minutes of stoppage time, El Tri couldn’t score the sixth that would have propelled them to the semifinals.
Mexico finished with 24 attempts on goal to 14 for Haiti, with shots on target 14-4. Mexico was called offside 14 times.
Well, Mexican Coach Hugo Sanchez didn’t resign after the game, though Mexican Football Federation officials held a press conference and said his contract would be discussed at a March 30 meeting. Still, they also observed Sanchez has a contract through the 2010 World Cup.
“Obviously, this is a failure,” Sanchez said. “I don’t like to use that word, but you guys are going to keep bringing it up until I do so I will.”
“We had hoped to make history,” he added. “Mexico has never won an Olympic gold medal (in soccer).”
Sanchez lamented the absence of his four European-based players their clubs wouldn’t release and then noted the U.S. and Canada had their European-based players for the competition, which isn’t quite true (the U.S. couldn’t secure the release of Michael Bradley from his Dutch club, for instance).
His counterpart, Haiti’s Wilner Etienne, was quite blunt about the performance of some of his team.
“There are some players who can play at a high level and there are some players you can’t count on,” he said.
Canadian Coach Nick Dasovsic, who had said he wouldn’t comment on the U.S. until after the Mexico game, was quite voluable when I bumped into him in the Stadium Club en route to the Mexico-Haiti press conference. It probably helped he was on his third beer.
“When (Haiti) went down to nine men, I thought we were done,” he said. “I think I died eight times. It was like something out of a movie. We’re through, though, we’re going to Tennessee.”
“It’s a one-game cup final and (if we win) we go to the Olympics,” he added. “The guys will be up for it.”
“They’ve got quality,” he said of the U.S. “It’s going to be huge for the guys.”