Mexico got a place in the final of the U-17 CONCACAF Tournament after getting past a very tough Haitian side. With a 1-0 victory, Mexico had a tough time against the best team they had faced all tournament, although they were the slightly better team and it wasn’t as bad of performance as the one the U-20 team had last year in Bradenton. Still, Mexico had a tough time and the result was up in the air for 90 minutes, even with Haiti coming in after playing 120 minutes in their prior game. Mexico will now face the hosts United States, who will probably come in as the favored team after crushing Canada 4-0 in their semifinal while also being the most consistent side, unlike Mexico who struggled in their Round of 16 game as well as in the Semifinal.
Mexico and Haiti started in front of two supporting crowds for each team. It was a very even match but it was Haiti who had the first opportunity when they forced Eduardo Garcia to make a save off a long range shot in the sixth minute.
The game continued with Haiti being slightly superior to Mexico. Jesus Gomez got yellow carded after having to bring down an Haitian attacker who went right past him. Although they didn’t get close, Haiti was able to get several shots off, showing how Haiti kept being the better team in the game.
Mexico started having more possession and moving up field but they weren’t able to create much danger and the game was very even with both sides stifled. Mexico had their first chance when Israel Luna headed a cross from a free kick inside the area but it went wide.
Mexico suddenly started dominating possession but exposed at times to dangerous counters from the talented Haitians. Haiti had another great long range shot that forced Garcia to make another great save.
Mexico had the best chance in the last minutes after a terrible mistake from the Haitian goalkeeper, who gave it to Efrain Alvarez for the tap in but he wasted time in changing to his left leg and the keeper was able to deflect it to a corner kick.
The first half ended with Haiti looking the better side, although not by much.
The second half started and almost a minute in, Mexico almost made a terrible mistake. Eduardo Garcia came out badly and a Haitian player was able to connect the ball to a teammate, who sent it wide to an open net.
A minute later it would be Haiti who would make the mistake but Mexico would pounce on it. A long ball was sent to the Mexican attackers but defender Corlens Etienne made a mess of the ball and Efrain Alvarez got the ball and lobbed it over Haiti’s goalkeeper Stephner Paul, who had gone out to try to get to the ball after Etienne mismanaged it.
The goal was a boost from Mexico and they had another good chance when Bruce El-Mesmari made a long range shot that Haiti’s keeper had to dive to save.
Haiti started regrouping and once again gained more control of the ball but also being physically rougher. Gustavo Martinez had a great opportunity to score but his shot was terrible. In the next play, Haiti came the closest it had to score when Kervens Jolicoeur failed to get to a cross but the ball still went close to the far post. Had he connected, it would’ve been a sure goal.
After a bad tackle Hatian Fred Sainte got a yellow card although in the replay, it looked like it should’ve been red. The game continued to be very hard fought but Mexico came slightly superior.
In the final play of the game, a Haitian free kick fell in the area but the Mexican defenders cleared it out in what turned out to be the only dangerous attack after Jollicouer’s chance. Mexico held on to win the game and clinch a place in the final.
While Mexico had a tough match, they were able to get through their toughest test so far. Unlike the U-20 team that struggled mightily in the U-20 CONCACAF Tournament, this team didn’t look out their element when facing the tougher teams like Haiti. Still, at times Mexico suffered and even in games they dominated, they weren’t able to look like a well organized team with the large amount of games played that this team has. In the final against the United States, they shouldn’t be favored as the United States is the host and has been the team with the best results so far in the competition. That said, Mexico should give them a good game and the situation doesn’t look as hopeless as it did in the U-20 final, where Mexico had been lucky to even get to the final.