If you aren’t lucky or obsessive enough to have BeIN Sports or Galavision, you missed a unique bit of sports drama that only rolls around every four years or so. Tuesday night, the final games of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying occurred – all games starting at the same time to avoid any shenanigans. The USA qualified a month ago and were only playing for the shirt and microscopic hopes of being seed in Brazil next summer. Costa Rica – already qualified; but for Honduras, Panama, and Mexico, these matches were win or go home.
Honduras dispatched Jamaica without much trouble, leaving Mexico (playing at Costa Rica) and Panama (playing at home against the US) left to duke it out for the chance to play New Zealand in a home and home series for the final slot in the World Cup. Panama and Mexico were only a point apart in the standings, meaning all Mexico needed to do was tie or win. Panama, playing a US team made up almost entirely of younger, B-squad players, needed to win and hope El Tri lost.
The USA didn’t play all that well for most of the match, and Panama took the lead in the first half. Minutes later, the stadium erupted as news came across that Costa Rica had taken the lead over Mexico. Not long after, Mexico equalized, and the stadium was eerily quiet. The US played better in the second half and looked likely to score. Sure enough, Michael Orozco scored on a set piece and the Mexicans were celebrating. They were double safe with the U.S. tying Panama and themselves tied with Costa Rica. Ah, but Costa Rica scored again about 10 minutes later. Again, in Panama, you could feel the electricity, and sure enough Luis Tejada jumped on a loose ball in the box and slammed it home in the 83rd minute. Unbelievable scene. Panama was ahead again, 2-1, and through. Continue reading