Canada finds itself in a three team race for one under 17 world championship spot as group play comes to a close in Costa Rica tonight. Tied with Mexico on points but trailing on goal difference at the top of Group B, Canada know they must win to avoid facing United States and the prospect of almost certain elimination in the semi-final crossover stage of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. A draw will be enough for Mexico.
The US girls have already finished first in Group A with an overwhelming display of superiority. They have been invincible; not allowing a single serious threat on goal through three matches while rolling up the unheard of sum of 39 goals including 10 against their main threat Costa Rica yesterday. Whomever the foe in the semis, United States is not likely to bend and even less likely to break.
Canada, meanwhile, has shown good rhythm to their play and even a pleasing style. But then they have not faced the kind of resistance from a potent opponent to put them off their game. Probably more significant than notching two goals against Panama and four versus Jamaica is giving up a goal in each match. Allowing goals against weak sides has to be concern for coach Brian Rosenfeld because he knows his charges will be facing opponents capable of cranking things up several notches from here on in.
Mexico is the first real test for Canada. The Mexicans have breezed by Panama and Jamaica without allowing a goal while registering nine of their own. In the only recent head-to-head matchup, Canada lost a close one 1-2 to Mexico in a pre-tournament warm-up, making this the first real test for Mexico as well. The only real shot at a World Cup berth lies in the outcome as the victor will draw Costa Rica who finished second in Group A.
Tonight’s match is available in streaming video on the CONCACAF website beginning at 9:30 Eastern.