Canada’s Dejan Jakovic slide tackles Mexico’s Cesar Villaluz during the second half.
In what is becoming an Olympic qualifying full of surprises, Canada held supposedly mighty Mexico to a 1-1 draw at Home Depot Center Wednesday night in a game that also saw both goal scorers sent off.
Canada struck first after just three minutes, temporarily silencing the overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd, after former Chicago Fire striker Will Johnson stabbed home a close range shot when Mexico failed to clear.
Morelia striker Luis Angel Landin equalized for Mexico in the 22nd minute from the spot after what appeared to be a dubious penalty call.
Mexico gradually asserted control, but saw Landin ejected midway through the second half. Canada was unable to score on the resultant power play and Johnson followed him down the tunnel about 10 minutes later.
Mexico dominated with Canada hanging grimly on – the Canucks didn’t have a shot in the second half – but El Tri couldn’t break down the stubborn defense.
Chants of “Lavolpe” – a reference to former Mexico Coach Ricardo Lavolpe – could be heard emanating from the crowd of 9,949 toward game’s end.
Guatemala beat Haiti 1-0 in the opening game of the night to take an unexpected lead in Group B.
Updated: Canadian Coach Nick Dasovic observed after the game that considering the nation had played precisely zero Under-23 games in four years, his back four was playing together for the first time ever and he had his full roster together just 24 hours before the start of the game, this was a “baptism of fire.”
“I wish we could play Mexico every week,” he said jokingly. “After three minutes I thought ‘sheesh, we pissed off the Mexicans.’”
He added: “This was a confidence builder.”
While, Dasovic was happy with the result, Mexican Coach Hugo Sanchez was not pleased.
“We showed we were superior on the field,” he said.
Sanchez was asked if he was worried by the result.
“No, I would have been worried if we would have lost,” he said.
Meanwhile, the latest on the defecting Cubans confident of getting a job in MLS after seeing the state of the American team is here.