Hector Moreno and Raul Jimenez helped Mexico re-claim their three-point lead in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 win away to El Salvador on Wednesday.

Moreno headed in Jesus Corona's 30th-minute corner before Mexico star Jimenez rounded out the win with a penalty in the third minute of stoppage time.

Hirving Lozano put an early chance wide, while Osvaldo Rodriguez also pushed a header off target before Moreno broke the deadlock with a glancing effort which crept in at the back post.

Both sides were then reduced to 10 men, with El Salvador losing Mario Jacobo to a straight red card for a foul on Rogelio Funes Mori in the 48th minute.

Mexico saw Nestor Araujo sent off with 23 minutes remaining for a second bookable offence, ruling him out of next month's crucial qualifier against the United States in Cincinnati.

Wolves' Jimenez cushioned the victory with his late spot-kick having returned to the national team last month after suffering a serious head injury in November last year.

The win moved unbeaten Mexico to 14 points after six games, three points ahead of USA, who came from behind to beat Costa Rica 2-1 earlier on Wednesday.

Nearly four years after the infamous loss to Trinidad and Tobago that saw the United States fail to qualify for Russia 2018, a young USA side opened the final round of 2022 World Cup qualifying with a 0-0 draw at El Salvador on Thursday. 

USA head coach Gregg Berhalter's inexperienced team, missing star Christian Pulisic and goalkeeper Zack Steffen, managed to take a point before a raucous crowd in San Salvador following their CONCACAF Gold Cup success last month.

It might not have been a scintillating performance for a side coming off Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League triumphs, but the USA will take it after opening their 2018 qualifying campaign with successive losses. 

Nine players in the USA starting line-up were making their first appearance in a World Cup qualifier, with DeAndre Yedlin and Tim Ream the only exceptions, but the group did not appear rattled on the road. 

USA had a tantalising chance after eight minutes when Miles Robinson got free behind the El Salvador defence on a Gio Reyna free-kick, but saw his header sail over the goal. 

El Salvador's best opportunity of the first half came in the 33rd minute when California-born Alex Roldan cut in from the left after a short corner and curled a ball over USA goalkeeper Matt Turner that grazed the top of the crossbar. 

The home side had a chance to take the lead in the 57th minute, as Turner had to dive to his left to save a header from Eriq Zavaleta off a corner from Marvin Monterroza, the first and only shot on target for El Salvador. 

Weston McKennie had a clear header in the 72nd minute, however the USA and Juventus midfielder could not put home Reyna's cross, one of several missed opportunities for the visitors.

The result snapped the USA's nine-match winning streak, but they still have suffered only one defeat in their last 20 games dating to November 2019, a 2-1 friendly loss at Switzerland in May. 

 

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) could be breathing a sigh of relief as the country remained on the amber list in the latest update of the United Kingdom’s Traffic Light System, which applies to travel to and from the country.

Earlier this week, the Premier League announced that, based on the current quarantine rules, it would not release players for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers to countries on the UK’s red list.  It was later joined by the La Liga and Serie A competitions and yesterday, England’s second tier, the EFL also joined the list of clubs.

The concerns stem from the fact that players returning from red-listed destinations would, based on the rules, be forced to quarantine for 10 days.  The leagues argue that those conditions would lead to players missing games, in addition to having to make up for fitness requirements.

Unless an agreement can be worked out the decision will impact the availability of several teams competing in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which kick off on September 2.

At current, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica are the teams that have been placed on the red list.  The USA, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Honduras are all on the amber list, while Canada has been moved to the green list.

Individuals returning from red list countries are required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days and are subject to at least two COVID-19 tests.

Fully vaccinated individuals travelling to countries on the amber list would be subject to taking a COVID-19 test two days after arriving or before.  Non-vaccinated individuals returning from countries on the amber list would have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine period.

Based on the interpretation of the rules and the club’s specific stipulation of not allowing players to travel to red list countries, the CONCACAF countries on the amber and green list could potentially have their players available.  Baring a change of circumstances, affected countries on the red list would be left short-handed.  However, vaccine stipulations, which it seems are required to exempt individuals from mandatory quarantine, could complicate things.

Jamaica has at least 10 players who ply their trade between the Premier League and England Football League (EFL).  Among the EPL players are Andre Gray (Watford), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), and potentially Michail Antonio (West Ham) who recently received official documentation after switching from England.  It is currently not known how many of the team's overseas players are vaccinated.

 

 

A first-half strike from Jairo Henriquez and a late Walmer Martinez goal powered El Salvador to a 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in Group A of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

With the result, the Cuscatlecos have qualified for their first Gold Cup quarterfinal since the 2017 edition.

El Salvador came out the stronger of the two sides and soon started testing Trinidad and Tobago GK Nicklas Frenderup, beginning with a Joaquin Rivas effort in the 26’ that produced a diving save.

Four minutes later though, there was nothing Frenderup could do to stop Henriquez from giving El Salvador a 1-0 lead by receiving a pass and shaking a defender with a brilliant turn before hammering a right-footed shot past Frenderup.

Henriquez then nearly notched his second of the day in the 38’, only to see his shot from distance glance off the post.

Trinidad and Tobago looked to respond in the second half and moments after Aubrey David nearly scored off a corner kick, Marcus Joseph was denied the equalizer in the 66’ when his stabbing shot off a cross struck the crossbar.

El Salvador looked to put the three points on ice and it was all there for Juan Portillo to do it, but Frenderup had other ideas and snuffed out Portillo’s shot right in front of goal.

The insurance goal arrived in the 90+1 with Martinez finishing off a frenzied sequence that started with Amando Moreno’s short squirting past Frenderup, hitting the post and rolling across the face of the goal on the line. Marvin Marquez swooped in trying to poke it into the net, but it was deflected by Frenderup to Portillo, who passed back to Martinez for an easy stroke into the net to complete the 2-0 scoreline.

 

 Joshua Perez bagged a brace to lead El Salvador to a 2-1 win over Haiti in their Group B finale of the 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship on Thursday at the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.

With the victory, El Salvador’s hopes of reaching the knockout round are still alive, pending the result of the Canada-Honduras match.

El Salvador started off by poking and prodding the Haitian defence before breaking through in the 19’ with a superb strike from Joshua Perez, who received a pass in between a pair of defenders and fired in a left-footed shot to make it a 1-0 El Salvador lead.

The joy was short-lived though, as less than two minutes later Haiti pulled back level 1-1 when an El Salvador giveaway in their own half led to a quick break, with Roberto Louima fighting off a trio of defenders and beating El Salvador GK Tomas Romero for the equalizer.

El Salvador would then regain the lead right before halftime, with Perez following up his header that deflected off the post and finishing with his left foot to make it 2-1 to El Salvador.

El Salvador was keen to add to their lead to start the second half and had several looks at goal, but was unable to find a way past Haiti GK Alan Jerome.

The reprieve sparked Haiti to life in attack and Louima, along with Peterson Joseph, suddenly had the Salvadoran defence and Romero on their heels.

Danley Jean had one final look at goal for Haiti, but was unable to convert, allowing El Salvador to see things out to claim the win.

Meanwhile, Honduras claimed the top spot in Group B of the 2020 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying championship by virtue of a 1-1 draw with Canada in their group stage finale on Thursday night at the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The Catrachos completed the group stage with five points and a first-place finish and will now face the United States in Sunday’s semifinals in which the winner will advance to the 2020 Olympics In Tokyo.

Canada wrapped up their Group B campaign with five points as well, finishing second on goal difference and will now take on host nation Mexico in hopes of a first Olympic berth since 1984.

Honduras had a bright start and Kervin Arriaga came within a whisker of the opening goal in the 9’ with a right-footed shot that slammed onto the post and out.

Canada reacted well and after missing on an earlier header, Derek Cornelius found the target in the 28’ on his second attempt to give Canada a 1-0 lead by connecting on a cross from Patrick Metcalfe.

 Honduras’ response was immediate and two minutes later in the 30’ Denil Maldonado was first to reach Edwin Rodriguez’s free-kick and headed in past Canada GK James Pantemis to draw the Catrachos level 1-1.

The second half started off with a good tempo and Juan Carlos Obregon was set to give the Hondurans their first lead of the night in the 54’, but was unable to head into the net from just a few yards out.

In the 73’ it was Luis Palma almost converting on a loose ball in the area but the Honduran attacker saw his shot blocked by Pantemis.

In the end, Honduras were never able to find a second goal, but the result was enough to seal a first-place finish.

 

 

 

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