Mexico defeated Curaçao 5-0 in the final game of the group stage to grab the top spot and ticket to the CONCACAF U-15 Championship. After beating Panama 3-0 in the debut, Mexico had a 1-0 lead over Israel until the final minute, when a terrible mistake by the Mexican keeper allowed Israel to tie and get the top spot in the group. After Panama defeated Israel by a score of 3-0, all Mexico needed was a win to get to the Quarterfinals.
The game started with Mexico dominating against a Curaçao team who lost by a score of 5-0 to Israel but bounced back to get a 1-1 tie with Panama. A win against Mexico could have gotten them into the conversation, but the goal differential might have been a hill too tough to climb.
Mexico dominated possession, and it wasn’t long before Mexico opened the scoring when a great cross by Alejandro Alcala was headed in by a wide open Miguel Avalos for the 1-0.
Mexico continued to dominate after the goal, but didn’t really create much danger against a Curaçao team that was sitting back and waiting for a counter. It wasn’t until a corner kick that Mexico was able to score their second when a Mexican player was able to head the ball back, and it fell right to Juan Conejo. Conejo hit a one time shot to the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
Mexico had the lead and complete control of the match. Just prior to the end of the first half, a hard foul on a Mexican player lead to a yellow card for each team, which meant the Curaçao defender got a red card for it being his second yellow. David Lopez, the Mexican player who had gotten the card continued to protest and earned a second yellow card almost immediately in a very dumb move by him. Both teams went to halftime having 10 players and with Mexico leaving on that sour note.
When the second half started, Mexico continued to dominate possession. Within minutes, a great combination play between the Mexican attackers ended with Carlos Cruz getting the ball in the area and placing it past the keeper with a left footed shot for the 3-0 lead. Cruz had scored twice against Panama, and added to his count as the leading scorer for Mexico so far in the competition.
With the 3-0 score, Mexico took their foot off the gas pedal, as they knew the score between Israel and Panama. The game became kind of slow paced with a sporadic attack from Mexico making things interesting. After a great cross, Gael Garcia got to head the ball past the Curaçao keeper for the 4-0.
It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes for after a great pass, Alejandro Alcala, Mexico’s best player this game, got a ball in the area and got a left footed shot past the keeper for the final goal and the 5-0 win.
Mexico’s dominating win got them to the knockout stages with 7 points. Mexico was the superior team for all three games, although the difference was less noticeable against Israel than against Panama. They will now wait for their opponent in the Quarterfinals. Mexico is the current champion of the tournament after winning the 2017 edition (also held in Bradenton, Florida) after defeating the United States in the final by a score of 2-0.
Editor’s Note: Mexico will be playing Canada in the Quarterfinals