Mexico gave their worst performance of the 2022 CONCACAF U20 Tournament after a 0-0 tie against Haiti, but still finished in first place in their group. A tie against Haiti is all Mexico needed to win the group, and that is precisely what they got. Mexico will now go to the Round of 16, where they will face off against Puerto Rico on Sunday night. If they win, they will face the winners of the Guatemala vs Canada match in the Quarterfinals.
The first half started with Mexico making many changes, including the return of Karel Campos after getting injured in the first match, as well as the first start for forward Jesus Hernandez. After a couple of even minutes, Haiti had the best chance when a cross into the area was headed wide by a wide open Stevenson Jeudy. Mexico then had a great chance when Isaias Violante got a great shot from outside the area that forced Haiti’s goalkeeper Willemeson Augustin to make a great save. Mexico had gained possession and was controlling the match, but weren’t able to create much against a defensive Haitian side. Christian Torres got the ball in the area and looked to have scored, but was correctly ruled to be offside in a play where if Torres had allowed the ball to pass to Campos (who was going into the area), it would have been an great onside chance for Mexico. The many changes that Mexico had to make ahead of the match meant that even when the field conditions were incredibly superior, they side looked disjointed and weren’t playing as well as their first two matches. Haiti had another chance when a shot turned into a cross that Jeudy got into, but it just ended up deflecting it wide. The halftime whistle blew and Mexico had their worst 45 minutes of the tournament but even then, they weren’t particularly bad.
The second half started with Mexico subbing out Isaias Violante and Jesus Alcantar for Bryan Gonzalez and Rafael Palma. Haiti had a chance when a ball fell to Jeudy but his shot went wide. Mexico answered with a cross into the area that was lowered by Hernandez to Gonzalez, but his right footed shot went wide. Mexico subbed out Christian Torres for Jonathan Perez. After Mexico lost the ball in the area, Haiti could have had a great chance before Jeudy took a dive in the area trying to get a penalty, and the ball went wide with the referee correctly ruling to play on. Haiti then had the best chance of the match when Watz-Landy Leazard got off a left footed shot from outside the area that hit the post. Minutes later they came close again when Jeaudy got a left footed shot that looked easy enough to stop, but a terrible mistake from Mexico’s goalkeeper Jose Eulogio allowed the ball to go over him and hit the post before getting the rebound into his hands. It would have been a terrible blooper, as the ball bounced over him in what should have been an easy save. Haiti then subbed out Adelson Belizaire and Bryan Destin for Joel Favard and Omre Etienne. Mexico meanwhile subbed out captain Fidel Ambriz for Salvador Mariscal. Mexico later subbed out Karel Campos for Esteban Lozano. They then had a good chance when a long ball reached Lozano, but his shot was blocked by a defender. Haiti almost got a goal when a drive into the area bounced off of a Mexican defender, almost deflecting in for an own goal. Haiti subbed out Stevenson Jeudy for Juff Exilius. The referee then blew the whistle as Haitian players celebrated as if they had won while Mexico ended up worrying their fans after a very poor performance.
Mexico finished their group stage matches with a lot of doubts. After a great start and two crushing victories against Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico left a lot to be desired in their match against Haiti. While Mexico made a lot of changes after almost booking their ticket to the Round of 16, it was needed because there had been only a one day rest between matches, Mexico failed to create much danger against a very defensive minded Haiti. While Mexico had most of the possession and overall was the better side, Haiti handled Mexico well and even had the best chances, although one came off a very bad mistake from Mexico’s goalkeeper. Mexico should improve with rest, but the fact is that they should expect more defensive sides in the Round of 16 onward, and it doesn’t bode well that they did so poorly against Haiti. Mexico should be heavily favored against Puerto Rico, but they might have a tough opponent in the quarterfinal match especially if they face Canada, who have been the biggest disappointment so far after their loss to Cuba. Mexico will need to improve, and Coach Luis Perez should get to work because after the first two matches. There will most likely be more bunkering and countering from their rivals in their future.